Friday, May 1, 2015

Office of Hawaiian Affairs sheds support of Thirty Meter Telescope, ethanol to be removed from gasoline, road construction lags, no Obama library for Hawaii, huge Honolulu housing project advances, Ellison's airlines cuts back, new deal for Turtle Bay, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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State lawmakers are poised to scrap the long-standing mandate that gasoline sold in Hawaii must be mixed with ethanol, with House and Senate negotiators agreeing Thursday to a bill that would abandon the ethanol requirement at the end of this year. Star-Advertiser.

A Hawaii News Now investigation revealed hundreds of millions of dollars in federally funded highways projects have been stuck in the state bureaucracy for years, delaying badly needed improvements and the creation of construction jobs. A federal review found it takes three to four times as long for the average federal highway project to get started in Hawaii, compared to other states. Hawaii News Now.

A bill that would ban sex trafficking passed out of conference committee in the Hawaii Legislature on Thursday afternoon. Senate Bill 265 which would replace the charge of first-degree “promoting prostitution” with the term “sex trafficking.” Civil Beat.

Switching gender on birth certificates could get a lot easier for transgender people in Hawaii. A proposal to allow people to change gender on their birth certificates without having to undergo surgery cleared a legislative hurdle Thursday, sending the bill to the full Legislature for a vote on the brink of a legislative deadline. Star-Advertiser.

Environmental groups oppose gutting of environmental funds. 15 environmental groups have written an open letter to the State House and Senate finance committee chairs urging them not to appropriate money from, or modify in an any way, several vital environmental funds. Hawaii Independent.

It’s truth time for Hawaii’s medical marijuana bill. With the clock ticking on the current legislative session, House and Senate leaders are working today to forge an agreement on legislation to set up a statewide system of medical marijuana dispensaries. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii could get an influx of $469.7 million for military construction and infrastructure investment as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Associated Press.

Two units of the Hawaii Government Employees Association that include about 14,400 public workers have ratified a new two-year contract with the state and counties. Last week the union halted contract ratification voting for bargaining Units 3 and 4 after HGEA learned negotiators for the Hawaii State Teachers Association won larger across-the-board raises and a larger bonus than HGEA had negotiated for those units. Star-Advertiser.

It was always considered a long shot, but now it looks official: Honolulu will be missing out on the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum. Civil Beat.

President Barack Obama has chosen Chicago to host his future presidential library, two individuals with knowledge of the decision said Thursday. The University of Chicago's victory marks a letdown for the other three schools on the shortlist: the University of Hawaii, New York's Columbia University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, a public school that proposed building the library on Chicago's West Side. Star-Advertiser.

Island Air, the Hawaii interisland airline owned by Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, will cut its workforce by 20 percent, close its operations on Kauai and cancel delivery of new aircraft in the short term as the airline works to reposition itself as the second largest airline in the Islands, the airline’s CEO said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

Ho‘opili, the largest housing project to go before the Honolulu City Council in at least two decades, is one vote away from going to the mayor's office for consideration. Star-Advertiser.

A bill to rezone land in West Oahu for 11,750 new homes has cleared a major hurdle. The Honolulu City Council Zoning and Planning Committee voted to approve the measure Thursday after hours of debate and public testimony. Civil Beat.

A year after former Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced a historic $48.5 million deal to preserve 665 acres at Turtle Bay Resort in perpetuity, Gov. David Ige unveiled a new $45.5 million agreement that would protect less North Shore land, cost Honolulu taxpayers more money but save the state $5 million. Civil Beat.

A rejiggered plan to preserve much of Turtle Bay Resort from development was put into firm place Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

The Governor joined lawmakers and environmental group leaders to announce a tentative agreement today on funding for the purchase of conservation lands at Turtle Bay. Hawaii Public Radio.

A group of senators charged with investigating Sen. Brickwood Galuteria plans to recommend that he be allowed to keep his seat despite a complaint alleging he doesn’t actually live in his district of Kakaako and committed tax fraud. Civil Beat.

New rules for collecting aquarium fish are in effect for Oahu waters. The rules, put in place last month, include new limits on nets used to collect marine life, daily commercial bag limits, commercial size limits and a prohibition on the taking of some fish species. Star-Advertiser.

New changes are coming to the new cycle track on King Street. Starting next week, 13 traffic signals designed especially for bicyclists will be installed. The city will also start removing parking spaces next month, an effort Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell believes will make the bike lane safer. Hawaii News Now.

A plan to expand Oahu's sit-lie ordinance is advancing quickly through the Honolulu City Council despite warnings that it may be illegal. Star-Advertiser.

Federal, state and city officials broke ground for a new joint traffic management center that was supposed to be completed in 2012. Associated Press.

Every time you shell out rail tax on all your Oahu purchases, not all of that money goes to the transit project. The state skims a fee off the top, and that has amounted to more than $163 million already. Where does it all go? KHON2.

Hawaii

Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Thursday voted to rescind support for building a giant telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea, but did not outright oppose the project. Associated Press.

Sending what they described as a strong message to those with oversight of the Mauna Kea summit, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees voted Thursday to rescind their support of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Star-Advertiser.

After listening to nearly four hours of testimony, members of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees voted Thursday to rescind their 2009 vote to support building the Thirty Meter Telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea. However, before passing the resolution they removed wording that said OHA actually opposes the telescope project. Civil Beat.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs have rescinded their support for the development of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea, changing their 2009 stance on the controversial project. But the board stopped short of opposing the telescope entirely. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs voted 6-1 Thursday to rescind its 2009 support for construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea. KITV4.

A bill requiring a greater commitment to farming in order to receive substantial property tax benefits will be back before the County Council Finance Committee on Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Construction of the $22.3 million Pahoa District Park, once paused due to the June 27 lava flow, restarted last week, Hawaii County officials said. The county gave the go-ahead to resume grubbing and grading work following a downgrade in the lava flow threat March 25 and consultation with Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Civil Defense. Tribune-Herald.

What course should the state’s most popular national park take over the next two decades? The question is at the heart of a draft general management plan released for public comment today by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The public has 60 days to weigh in on the three scenarios presented by the National Park Service. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A half-dozen testifiers commented Wednesday evening on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's draft management plan to expand the size and to include multiple species in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Maui News.

The Waikapu Country Town project that calls for hundreds of homes took a first step toward realization Wednesday after the state Land Use Commission gave its approval for developers to prepare an environmental impact statement. Maui News.

As the number of shark attacks in Maui continues to climb, researchers at the University of Hawaii are trying to figure out the reason. Associated Press.

Kauai

A group of Kauai citizens is currently seeking County Council action to place a proposal on the 2016 ballot to change our county’s governing structure to a council-manager system and replace the mayor-council system now in effect. Garden Island.

Five days before the first of two public hearings on Kauai about federally proposed changes to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, fishermen, activists, surfers and scientists gathered at Port Allen Harbor Wednesday to spread the word that they have the power to shut down the changes if they make loud and strong their collective voice. Garden Island.