Monday, May 4, 2015

Kilauea Volcano explosion caught on camera, legislative committee stuck on marijuana dispensaries bill, media access bill fails, committee approves Honolulu rail tax, smoking age law would be nation's first, Molokai leper colony could be a park, more news from all the Hawaiian islands

courtesy Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory
Explosion on Kilauea Volcano, courtesy Hawaii Volcano Observatory
A small explosive event at the summit of Kilauea volcano on Sunday afternoon was captured on camera. Big Island Video News.

A bill raising the smoking age in Hawaii to 21 would put the state in the lead in national efforts to prevent nicotine addiction, but is worrying some young smokers whose habit would suddenly be forbidden in public. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers have revived a bill to establish a medical marijuana dispensary system after conference committee negotiations collapsed Friday. A conference committee made up of Senate and House negotiators plans to reconvene Monday at noon to consider House Bill 321, according to a Senate press release emailed at 1:21 a.m. Saturday. Civil Beat.

When negotiations broke down Friday night over details of the marijuana dispensary bill, the Senate's Democratic caucus quickly gathered to sign a petition expressing their desire to see a bill pass this year. Senate Health Committee Chairman Josh Green, who was blamed by many for the failure of the dispensary bill, was then stripped of control of the measure. Star-Advertiser.

Two bills that would require Hawaii insurers to cover treatment for autism, orthodontic treatment and orofacial anomalies, passed conference committees Friday and are headed for a final vote by both chambers next week. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawmakers failed to advance a bill that would have given media personnel greater access when covering natural disasters like the June 27 lava flow. Sen. Lorraine Inouye, D-Hilo, who co-introduced the original measure on behalf of the Big Island Press Club and later resurrected it by having it inserted into a separate piece of legislation, said she was “disappointed” by the outcome and that the deciding factor was money. Tribune-Herald.

A $10,000 sewer conversion tax credit will allow 500 homeowners a year to defray the cost of converting from cesspools to sewer systems. The income tax credit with a $5 million yearly cap was approved in legislative conference committees on Friday. West Hawaii Today.

The Jones Act, its defenders argue, is a vigilant protector of American shipping. Opponents in Hawaii, by contrast, often paint the Jones Act as a primary driver of high prices.Civil Beat.

Visitor arrivals to the islands continue to be strong. But as much as we hear about record tourist numbers, not everything in the industry is as rosy as it may appear. Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu

A joint panel of state senators and representatives agreed to terms Friday to extend Honolulu’s 0.5 percent General Excise Tax surcharge for rail another five years beyond its Dec. 31, 2022, sunset date. Civil Beat.

The developer of a McCully condominium complex seeking a list of exemptions from city zoning land laws will get them — but only if it can provide more homes to families in lower income brackets. The City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee gave preliminary approval Thursday to Resolution 15-89, which exempts developers of the 180-unit Ohana Hale condominium complex from 17 requirements of Hono­lulu's Land Use Ordinance. Star-Advertiser.

If you ever wanted to learn more about the Honolulu Police Department’s policy on use of force, bias-based profiling or even its grooming standards, you can now do so simply by going to the agency’s website. On Friday, the HPD announced it has uploaded each of its more than 250 policies in order to increase departmental transparency. Civil Beat.

Honolulu police officers who discovered an alleged indoor marijuana growing operation while responding to a dropped 911 call in Hale­iwa conducted an illegal search, the state Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled recently. Star-Advertiser.

More people have been bicycling and fewer bikes are on sidewalks since Honolulu opened a 2-mile protected bike lane on South King Street in December, according to the city's deputy director transportation services. Associated Press.

Hawaii

The complaint against Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi over misuse of his county-issued purchasing card will go before the county Board of Ethics on May 13, when three Kenoi appointees will consider options against the mayor and his finance director. Star-Advertiser.

A call to explore moving the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy to UH-Manoa failed to gain traction in the Legislature this year, but the resolution’s sponsor says it’s a question likely to come up again. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee members worked late Friday and into the early hours of Saturday to try to put the finishing touches on the panel's draft of the county fiscal 2016 budget. Maui News.

Time-share owners have filed 649 real property tax appeals with Maui County for the 2015 assessment year, the highest number of appeals for owners of properties in any of the 10 property rate tax classifications. Maui News.

The Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission had been hoping to receive at least $6 million from the state Legislature to maintain operations for the next two years, but lawmakers approved only $2 million for the commission in its biennium budget by Friday's legislative deadline. Maui News.

Kauai

Civil Air Patrol Col. Roger Caires has been appointed as the Kauai Composite Squadron commander, and Lt. Col. Ronald Victorino has been named as the squadron’s vice commander. Garden Island.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife is seeking public input and comments on a draft forest reserve management plan for Nounou and Kalepa Forest Reserves on Kauai. Garden Island.

Molokai

When the last of 16 Hawaii Hansen's disease patients dies, the National Park Service wants to allow more visitors to Kalaupapa National Historic Park and overhaul some buildings to accommodate them — but otherwise preserve the feel and history of the isolated Molokai peninsula that was home to 8,000 exiles afflicted with the disease also known as leprosy. Star-Advertiser.