Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hawaii sets stage for movie theaters for disabled, prostitutes charged for sex assault, Honolulu cop to be fired for fondling breasts at traffic stop, huge Hoopili development approved, county ethics board may struggle to hear Kenoi case, Maui spending scrutinized, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy office of the governor
Gov. David Ige, supporters, at movie bill signing, courtesy photo
Most movie theaters in Hawaii will be required to provide open captioning for hearing-impaired people in at least two movie showings per week per movie under a bill signed into law by Gov. David Ige on Wednesday. The new law is the first of its kind in the nation, and also requires companies that operate theaters in two or more locations in Hawaii to provide an "audio description" of any motion picture for the blind if that feature is offered by distributors. Star-Advertiser.

While the measure might not affect Kauai theaters in the immediate future, it was a topic close to  Rep. James Tokioka’s heart. Garden Island.

A panel of state lawmakers spent the better part of a day last March listening to Hawaii nonprofits and others take advantage of the three minutes they were each allotted to make their case for government grant money. Silence ensued for the next six weeks and then a list of winners — a sliver of those who had applied — was announced without explanation as to why some charities were selected over others. Civil Beat.

If there were any lingering doubts, Gov. David Ige dropped hints Wednesday he is likely to sign bills allowing for the privatization of state-owned medical facilities in Maui County and providing state funds to acquire land at Turtle Bay to protect it from development. Star-Advertiser.

Newly anointed state Senate President Ron Kouchi announced a new lineup of committee chairs Wednesday, clearly rewarding those who supported ousting Donna Mercado Kim on Tuesday while putting others out to pasture. Civil Beat.

The state Senate announced a new organization Wednesday under Senate President Ron Kouchi that shuffled the leadership of some committees, but left the most powerful committee posts in the hands of the same three senators. Star-Advertiser.

On his first full day as the first Kauai resident to lead the state Senate, Ron Kouchi vowed to put the people and interests of The Garden Island at the forefront of every legislative decision.

Hawaii lawmakers have put the state at the front of a national discussion over the future of ethanol in gasoline by passing a bill that puts an end to a requirement that the corn-based additive be mixed into fuel sold in the state. The move comes as Congress faces pressure to review a federal mandate that calls for ethanol and other renewables in the nation’s fuel supply. Associated Press.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii have put a price tag on at least one health-related complication from volcanic emissions, in one of the first studies to examine the economic impacts of a pollution source that is not man-made. Civil Beat.

Since its summit erupted in 2008, Kilauea Volcano has increased health care costs statewide by approximately $6.3 million, new research shows. Timothy Halliday, an associate professor of economics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and co-author of the study, said it is the first time a dollar figure has been calculated for the damage associated with Kilauea’s emissions. Tribune-Herald.

Oahu

The landscape-altering Ho‘opili development project won a 9-0 final approval from the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday, paving the way for up to 11,750 new homes on the Ewa Plain over the next few decades. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council has approved a bill to rezone nearly 1,300 acres in West Oahu to make way for a 11,750-home community by developer D.R. Horton. The vote was unanimous. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu City Council cast its final vote today on a planned 12-thousand unit housing project in West O’ahu. Hawaii Public Radio.

The City Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to approve Bill 3, which would rezone 1,289 acres of agricultural land in West Oahu for the controversial Hoopili project by developer D.R. Horton. KITV4.

A plan to expand the city's existing sit-lie law was approved 7-2 by the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday, despite lingering worries that it may not pass constitutional muster. Council members Brandon Elefante and Kymberly Pine, who have consistently opposed all sit-lie measures, voted against Bill 6. Star-Advertiser.

A Mainland investment group is putting up almost the entire development cost of $34 million for the long-planned Waikiki Landing mixed-use project at Hawaii’s Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, the attorney for the developer confirmed. Pacific Business News.

The Honolulu Police Department plans to fire an officer accused of fondling an underage girl's breasts during a traffic stop, sources told Hawaii News Now Wednesday.

Honolulu police worked with two federal agencies to conduct an undercover operation that led to the arrest of 16 women last week in the latest crackdown on prostitution and illegal massage parlors. But instead of arresting the women and charging them with prostitution, the women were charged with fourth-degree sexual assault — a misdemeanor. Star-Advertiser.

About a dozen women arrested over the weekend in a Honolulu prostitution sting at massage parlors won't be charged with prostitution. Instead, they face the more severe charge of sex assault. Associated Press.

The state is paying $900,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the parents of a 3-year-old boy who died when a pickup truck crossed Farrington Highway in Nanakuli and crashed into their vehicle. Star-Advertiser.

King Street bike path design flaw creates handicap parking problems. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Hawaii County will pay travel expenses but not legal fees for a deputy corporation counsel to come from Maui to advise the Board of Ethics on charges against Mayor Billy Kenoi, following a vote Wednesday by the Hawaii County Council. But it remains to be seen whether the Board of Ethics, down to just three members from its legal complement of five, will be able to hear the case when it meets Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

Despite concerns over how much a county contractor may charge residents for compost, the County Council on Wednesday gave the Department of Environmental Management the go-ahead to pursue a new green waste program. West Hawaii Today.

While requests for millions of dollars in renovations at Big Island schools were scrapped, lawmakers signed off on a project that will give future baseball and softball players at Waiakea High School an opportunity to perfect their swings in a new — and costly — batting cage. The cost to Hawaii taxpayers: $450,000. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Money misspent on Maui could lead to more questions from authorities in the wake of KHON2’S Always Investigating report, and others may have crossed the line masking personal expenses as county costs.

An estimated $172 million in Capital Improvement Project funds has been secured for various projects in Maui County under the state budget passed by the legislature this week. The largest single item was a $38 million appropriation for expansion and improvements to Kahului Harbor. Maui Now.

Maverick Helicopters opened its Maui operations last month and celebrated its new location with a Lei Day soiree. MauiTime.

Kauai

Jade Fountain-Tanigawa was appointed Kauai County Clerk Wednesday. Fountain-Tanigawa replaces former County Clerk Ricky Watanabe, who retired April 30 following more than 30 years of service to the county. Garden Island.

Three days of fiery testimony on federally proposed changes to the humpback whale sanctuary concluded in Lihue Wednesday with 50 residents voicing their opinions. Garden Island.