Thursday, April 2, 2015

Senate trims Ige budget, police ticket cellphone users in traffic jam, clean energy initiative ends, teachers allowed to campaign at school, Mauna Kea telescope protests continue, Kenoi releases credit card records, Maui council to cut budget, treasures return to Kauai museum, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii state Capitol © 2015 All Hawaii News
A Hawaii Senate panel has passed a version of the state budget that restored some funding that the House had stripped out, but the panel left several departments wanting more money. Associated Press.

The state Senate unveiled a new two-year budget Wednesday that would slightly cut back on Gov. David Ige's proposals, but would still increase state spending to record levels next year. The Senate budget draft would shave about half of 1 percent from the $13 billion budget proposed by Ige for the year that begins July 1, and would trim a bit more than half of 1 percent from Ige's proposal for the following year. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday restored $212 million in general funds that the House had cut last month from Gov. David Ige’s proposed $13.28 billion state spending plan for the next two years. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige has made six appointments to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, including a former community college provost, accountant and attorney, and hospital executive. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Senate to Post Résumés of Nominees on Website. President Kim decides it's important to provide "important information to the public" about gubernatorial appointments to boards and commissions. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii state Senate has formed a special committee after questions were raised about whether Sen. Brickwood Galuteria lives in his district. Hawaii News Now.

Teachers running for union offices in an internal election now underway will be allowed to distribute their campaign materials in school mailboxes, according to the terms of a temporary restraining order issued last week by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that it has posted on its website some data showing what restricted-use pesticides were sold in the state last year. The data only specifies what kinds of pesticides were purchased and in what amounts, and doesn’t state who bought them. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative — a series of agreements created in 2008 under the leadership of then-Gov. Linda Lingle that are critical to shaping the state’s energy future, including achieving 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 — has officially ended, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.

One of the top clean-energy nonprofits in Hawaii sharply criticized the state Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday over its much anticipated order on decoupling, which separates Hawaiian Electric’s revenues from its sales. Blue Planet Foundation, headed by Jeff Mikulina, said the commission failed to adopt proposals to tie the utility’s revenues to clean energy performance. Civil Beat.

A federal judge ruled on March 31 that the National Marine Fisheries Service acted illegally in approving testing and training activities by the US Navy in the Pacific Ocean that threatens widespread harm to whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine mammals. Maui Now.

Oahu

Members of the Honolulu City Council had more harsh words Wednesday about the direction of the island's rail project — but then the group signaled its support of a rail tax extension with key votes. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Council members voted yes on two rail-related measures during a special meeting Wednesday, indicating their support for extending an island-wide tax hike to pay for estimated cost overruns on the $6 billion project. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers on both sides of Punchbowl Street are weighing a handful of nonbinding resolutions that would call for piecemeal reforms to the Honolulu rail project. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu police issued 65 tickets to motorists for illegally using cellphones and other electronic devices Tuesday during the height of the traffic standstill touched off by ZipMobile troubles. Star-Advertiser.

Officials from the Honolulu Police Department explained in a press conference on Wednesday that there was a preplanned electronic device enforcement event in Pearl City on Waimano Home Road on the same day that a broken ZipMobile caused traffic gridlock on the H-1 Freeway. KITV4.

At least one state lawmaker has written a letter to Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, asking him to dismiss any traffic citations that were issued for cell phone or shoulder lane use during Tuesday's traffic nightmare. Hawaii News Now.

Tuesday's carmageddon cost residents an estimated $1 million in lost time and gas, rendered cabdrivers and delivery trucks motionless, caused travelers to miss flights, and had caregivers working overtime when family members couldn't arrive to take their keiki or kupuna home. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A $1,219.69 surfboard at a Honolulu store, $1,909.47 worth of equipment at a Kailua-Kona bike shop and $78.27 in sportswear from a Honolulu Quiksilver shop were among personal purchases Mayor Billy Kenoi made on his county charge card since being elected in 2008. Kenoi also paid a $700 tab at a karaoke bar across the street from his Hilo office, and his $566 state bar association dues, and he bought an $89.86 garment bag at a Kailua-Kona big box store, among many other personal purchases. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi revealed Wednesday he has reimbursed the county for a total of $26,000 in charges and interest on a county credit card — roughly half of which went for personal purchases. Star-Advertiser.

What was supposed to be a night out with friends at a local hostess bar has turned into a political crisis for one of the Democratic Party's rising stars. Hawaii News Now.

Big Island Mayor, Billy Kenoi spent nearly 900 dollars at Club Evergreen, a hostess bar in Honolulu. Kenoi says he paid the money back,but those weren’t the only unauthorized purchases on what is called his county pCard. KHON2.

With the exception of two members, the Hawaii County Council is choosing to remain tight-lipped concerning Mayor Billy Kenoi’s personal use of a county-issued credit card. Tribune-Herald.

Protesters of the Thirty Meter Telescope, who call themselves protectors of Mauna Kea, say they will continue to take a stand against the $1.4 billion project even if it means facing arrest. Tribune-Herald.

Protesters continued their vigil against the planned $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope without incident Wednesday as no work crews attempted to travel up to the construction site at the summit of Mauna Kea for the second day in a row. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: The long-standing overtly contentious face off between Native Hawaiians and the University of Hawaii’s aggressive advocacy of maximizing Mauna Kea as a premier site for astronomical observatories is heading into its most serious period of conflict. Civil Beat.

Funding for the Kona Judiciary Complex passed intact through key Senate committees on Wednesday. The $55 million needed to round out the $90 million price tag for the complex was approved by the Ways and Means and Judiciary committees. West Hawaii Today.

Two critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals were recently returned to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument after being rehabilitated at The Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in Kailua-Kona.West Hawaii Today.

Maui

"We are in cutting mode," said Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama on Tuesday as council members began their review of Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed nearly $700 million budget for fiscal 2016. Maui News.

More than 100 supporters of the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement or SHAKA join hands in front of the Kalana O Maui Building on Tuesday morning at the close of a rally demanding implementation of last year's voter-approved moratorium on genetically modified organisms. Maui News.

The Maui Police Department will soon equip at least some of its officers with body cameras, the department announced on Mar. 20. MauiTime.

With former mayoral candidate Nelson Waikiki Jr. saying Wednesday that he wants to represent himself in his criminal case, his sentencing was delayed until May 1 on securities fraud charges. Maui News.

Kauai
The Kauai Museum on Wednesday opened two of four large crates of artifacts received from the Smithsonian Institution of National Museum of American History.  The antiquities, which went down with a ship almost 190 years ago, have a storied history. Garden Island.

The public is invited to attend a meeting on the role that electric vehicles play in Kauai’s clean energy future. Among the topics that will be covered are the benefits of EV usage; access to charging stations; and EV trends in Hawaii and beyond. Garden Island.

Molokai


A resolution urging the mayor to seek a half-million-dollar appropriation for the Molokaʻi Ferry is scheduled to surface on the council agenda next Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Maui Now.