Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Huge rate hike sought for Hawaii Obamacare plan, cash-strapped Department of Education to cut programs, lawsuit filed against Kauai dairy, Sand Island homeless shelter draws council ire, ethics bill stalls in Hawaii County, resort cut from Lanai plan, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Puuhonoa o Honaunau National Historical Park © 2015 All Hawaii News
It’s still going to cost just five dollars to visit Puuhonoa o Honaunau National Historical Park. Bucking a trend of increased entrance fees at national parks, officials at the popular South Kona destination have decided to implement increases in the cost of only one of its passes — and not until 2017. West Hawaii Today.

The Legislature has approved less than half of the additional funds the Department of Education said it needs to run Hawaii's public school system next school year, but the department says it expects to only partially fill a resulting $38 million funding gap. Star-Advertiser.

Efforts to reduce chronic school absenteeism are shining new light on the prevalence of illnesses like asthma among students and the lack of trained medical professionals stationed in Hawaii schools. Hawaii currently lags behind most states when it comes to the availability of school nurses. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Medical Service Association is proposing an average 49.1 percent rate hike — the highest it has ever requested — for 20,935 members in Obamacare plans for 2016. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association is proposing to increase its rates by an average of 49.1 percent for individual Affordable Care Act health plans in 2016. West Hawaii Today.

Lawmakers have agreed to remove a mandate requiring ethanol in gasoline, the only thing left to do is for the governor to sign it into law. KHON2.

Under a new budget plan approved by the Board of Regents Tuesday, the University of Hawaii at Manoa will allocate some funding to instructional units based on student enrollment for the first time. Pacific Business News.

Public school teachers who didn't pull an absentee ballot but wanted to vote in Tuesday's re-do HSTA election cast their votes in person. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

The city of Honolulu's plan to build container-style shelter units at Sand Island for the chronically homeless is a "piecemeal" approach and will only shift the problem from one area of the island to another, the district's City Council member said. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Caldwell announced a plan to build Hale Mauliola, temporary modular housing, and to provide services for houseless on Sand Island site. Hawaii Independent.

Despite Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s veto of one attempt, Honolulu City Council members appear dead set on expanding the city’s controversial “sit-lie” ban even though they acknowledge they’re increasing the chance of a legal challenge. On Wednesday, the council will take up a spate of new bills aimed at pushing the boundary of the existing laws banning people from sitting or lying on sidewalks and in pedestrian malls. Civil Beat.

Federal prosecutors have accused local businessman Albert Hee of being a tax cheat. They now say he's a corporate deadbeat. In a superseding indictment filed several months ago, a federal grand jury said that Hee's company owes the Honolulu Board of Water Supply $5 million. Hawaii News Now.

Paying for solar -- twice! It may not sound very book-smart, but that is what the state has done at one of its libraries. KITV4.

A proposal by Haseko to develop part of its Ewa Beach property continues to draw stiff opposition from several residents who insist that the site near Oneula Beach Park is not a good fit for the project. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Farm Bureau is opening a new farmers market beginning this Sunday in Hale'iwa. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

It’s back to the drawing board for an ethics reform measure that has already made untold appearances before the County Council over the past five years. The council Finance Committee on Tuesday postponed the measure, Bill 37, until June 30 after inconsistencies were discovered in its amended text. West Hawaii Today.

With a deadline for its input looming Saturday, the Hawaii County Council, the policy-making body for the county, has not yet had any discussion about one of the county’s main policy documents, the General Plan. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council Committee on Governmental Relations and Economic Development took up a rare discussion on Hawaiian sovereignty in Hilo on Tuesday. Puna Councilman Danny Paleka introduced a resolution requesting the Hawaii state legislature designate July 31st as Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea, recognizing the day independence was restored to the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1843 following a taking by the British Royal Navy. Big Island Video News.

WHR LLC, which bought the 383-room Naniloa hotel on Hilo’s Banyan Drive in December 2013, signed a franchise license agreement Monday with Hilton Worldwide, making it the first DoubleTree by Hilton establishment on the Big Island. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County Council Member Bob Carroll has called a Hana community meeting at 5 p.m. today at the Hana Community Center to discuss the possibility of a skydiving business using Hana Airport as a drop zone. Maui News.

Kauai

Oregon-based environmental attorney Charlie Tebbutt on Monday filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act on the part of those behind a proposed dairy in Mahaulepu Valley. The suit claims the backers of Hawaii Dairy Farms — a proposed $17.5 million, 576-acre operation — have and continue to violate federal water regulations by installing irrigation systems, wells and water troughs without a state stormwater construction permit. Garden Island.

For the second day in a row, NASA postponed a high-profile launch here Wednesday despite a forecast of calm breezes and sunny weather in the low 80s. Star-Advertiser.

Flights from Japan to Kauai could be a future reality, as the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced expansion of its international inspection program to an airport in Japan. Garden Island.

Lanai

Proposed revisions to the draft Lānaʻi Community Plan update are now available on the council’s web site, Planning Committee Chair Don Couch announced today. Maui Now.

The future of Lanai is under consideration. The Maui County Council has a revised long-term plan for the Pineapple Isle. Among the changes, plans to build a new resort on the eastern side of the island were scrapped due to lack of resources. KHON2.

Kahoolawe

In an effort to cope with receiving only a third of its requested funds from the state Legislature, the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission expects to downsize its 18-member staff, with some taking pay cuts, others being reduced to part-time workers and two people losing their jobs. Maui News.