Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Prosecutor fights sex trafficking bill, Thirty Meter Telescope work ongoing behind the scenes, lawmakers scrutinize work furlough program, 90 Big Island hospital workers face layoffs, governor signs stormwater fee, B&Bs buck Kauai law, Honolulu Handi-Van woes continue, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Waikiki at night © 2015 All Hawaii News
Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro is urging Gov. David Ige to veto a bill that would establish "sex trafficking" as a crime in Hawaii, while supporters of the same measure are mobilizing to persuade Ige to sign it into law. Star-Advertiser.

A Senate committee looked into the state’s work furlough program for prison inmates today.   The focus was on the increasing number of inmates who walk away from the program. Hawaii Public Radio.

While the state's work furlough program for prison inmates has proved to be successful, a recent rash of nearly two dozen prisoners walking away from custody has lawmakers considering tweaks to improve the system. Star-Advertiser.

Some high-profile escapes unresolved, work furlough program scrutinized. KHON2.

Governor signs 'rain tax' bill into law. Bill gives counties power to impose new stormwater fee. KITV4.

Cigarette use among island children ages 12 to 17 has dropped, according to a new federal study, and health officials hope that a bill that would make Hawaii the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21 will further cut young people's cigarette use. Star-Advertiser.

Nelson Doi, a self-acknowledged political maverick, was remembered Tuesday as among the best political orators in Hawaii after World War II and a staunch supporter of the economically underprivileged. Star-Advertiser.

Nelson Kiyoshi Doi, former lieutenant governor, judge and state senator, died earlier this month in Waimea. He was 93. West Hawaii Today.

Oahu

Some seven months after the Handi-Van system was upgraded with badly needed new vehicles and real-time scheduling software, Oahu transit officials acknowledge that the big fixes they'd hoped to see aren't taking hold yet — and riders still have plenty of horror stories to share. Star-Advertiser.

Can Honolulu’s Sit-Lie Ban Pass Constitutional Muster? What started with a push by the mayor to get the homeless out of Waikiki is now an ever-expanding effort by the City Council in the face of a migrating homeless population. Will a legal challenge put a stop to it? Civil Beat.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is expected to sign a rezoning bill Wednesday for the contentious 11,750-home Ho‘o­pili project in West Oahu, but opponents say their fight is far from over. Star-Advertiser.

At least one classroom at James Campbell High School in Ewa Beach will be getting air conditioning later this year, after a student-run fundraising campaign raised $21,710. Civil Beat.

For the third time in the past three decades Hawaii will once again play host to the Asia-Pacific Real Estate Congress, with more than 300 attendees expected to attend this fall. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Nearly 90 employees will be laid off and some services will be cut at Hilo Medical Center, Ka'u Hospital and Hale Ho'ola Hamakua because of a projected $7 million deficit in the fiscal year starting July 1. The hospitals comprise the East Hawaii Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, the state funded hospital system which is facing a $50 million shortfall overall for fiscal 2016. Hawaii News Now.

Despite the ongoing standstill atop Mauna Kea, those behind the Thirty Meter Telescope are moving forward with the $1.4 billion project. Tribune-Herald.

A new law allowing hospital privatization will likely lead to a public-private partnership between Kona Community Hospital and The Queen’s Medical Center within five years, and the construction of a free-standing emergency room near the Kona International Airport. West Hawaii Today.

Puna Geothermal Venture finished drilling a new well earlier this month intended to offset a drop in production at the 38-megawatt power plant outside Pahoa. Tribune-Herald.

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority has improved its transparency and accountability to the public, but some problems remain, the state auditor said in a report issued Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development announced that it was issuing a new Request for Proposals (RFP) on a proposed Maui County municipal utility or co-op. MauiTime.

Slowly, more bits and pieces of a former home of Hawaiian royalty are becoming visible to archaeologists, researchers and a group trying to restore a West Maui gem. Maui News.

Phase I of the bypass road between Hana Highway and Puunene Avenue is expected to be completed by July. Maui News.

Kauai

“The Planning Department’s tactics are bullying tactics.” That comment from Greg Allen gave voice to the anger and frustration many B&B operators are feeling after the county sent cease-and-desist letters telling them they had two weeks to shut down or risk facing $10,000-a-day fines. Garden Island.