Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Biotech, GMO spotlighted at national agriculture conference in Kona, Navy trims sonar use in whale lawsuit settlement, Honolulu allows extra units in residential neighborhoods, Hawaii County settles panhandler, urinalysis lawsuits, Schatz weighs in on NextEra plan, Kaui parents protests oust principal, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo
University of Hawaii GMO researcher, courtesy photo
As lawyers defending Hawaii County’s ordinance regulating genetically modified crops work toward an Oct. 1 deadline to file their final brief, a key attorney challenging the new law is scheduled to speak about the issue at a national gathering today in Kailua-Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Biotech companies have spent at least $160,000 to sponsor a four-day national convention of state agricultural officials hosted by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture in Kailua-Kona this week. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Navy agreed to limit its use of sonar and other training that inadvertently harms whales, dolphins and other marine mammals off Hawaii and California in a settlement with environmental groups approved Monday. Associated Press.

Whales, dolphins and other marine mammals swimming off the coasts of Hawaii and Southern California will be more protected from the Navy’s use of sonar thanks to a settlement Monday. Two cases brought by environmental groups were resolved in federal court after a years-long battle to limit the military’s sonar training and testing as well as its use of explosives. Civil Beat.

The Navy agreed to limit its use of sonar and other training that inadvertently harms whales, dolphins and other marine mammals off Hawaii and California in a settlement with environmental groups approved Monday. Garden Island.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said he wants the state Public Utilities Commission to focus on NextEra Energy Inc.’s renewable energy and cost-cutting capabilities when deciding whether the Florida-company is fit to purchase Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. Star-Advertiser.

There’s been plenty of press about Hawaii’s first-in-the-nation policy of “100 percent renewable energy by 2045″ but a lot less talk about what the law really means, especially its loopholes. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s highest earners are working in the medical field, according to a recent report by American City Business Journals, but there's a catch. When you consider the high cost of living in Hawaii, it can actually be challenging to attract professionals to work in the health care sector, experts say. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s insurance premiums are on the rise, and it’s due to a combination of circumstance and new federal regulations, according to a new report by the Hawaii Health Information Corp. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

Under a bill signed Monday by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, homeowners with residential and agricultural lots are able to put up accessory dwelling units if they meet certain criteria. An ADU is a second smaller housing unit, either attached or detached, that can be rented out to either family members or outside parties. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers say it could be the change that opens up to 20,000 places to live on Oahu. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed what's called the "Accessory Dwelling Unit Bill" into law on Monday. Some are calling it a game changer in the battle against homelessness. KITV4.

A measure to address affordable rental housing on O’ahu was signed into law today at a bill signing ceremony. Hawaii Public Radio.

The brother of a Waipahu man fatally shot by police is suing the Honolulu officer who he says is responsible for the death, alleging that the officer didn’t follow proper procedure for handling people with mental illness. Civil Beat.

The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail and parking lot will close Tuesday through Friday and again Monday through Sept. 23 for repaving in an ongoing $2.7 million improvement project. Star-Advertiser.

State crews, including 70 inmates, began a cleanup of the homeless encampment beneath the H-1 freeway viaduct Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Officials are planning to clear a second section of the large homeless encampment in Kakaako. Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Monday that the next phase of the camp clearing will happen Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

If you hike the popular Koko Head Crater Trail, it’s common to see a few bees, but lately hikers say there are a lot more. KHON2.

Hawaii
Hawaii County has agreed to pay $80,000 and rewrite its panhandling laws to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by a Kailua-Kona man. West Hawaii Today.

Little did Justin Guy know that holding a sign that read “Homeless Please Help” on a Kailua-Kona street corner would spark a free speech case resulting in changes to the law that protects everyone’s First Amendment rights on Hawaii island. Star-Advertiser.

The ACLU-assisted settlement in a houseless Hawaii County man's free speech case has lead to revisions of several ordinances now found to be unconstitutional. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii County will pay $115,000 and cease the requirement of urinalyses and other medical screenings as a condition of employment for most positions under a federal lawsuit settlement announced Monday. West Hawaii Today.

An 'ahu or altar that was built along the Mauna Kea summit road has been bulldozed by a Mauna Kea Support Services (MKSS) employee. Hawaii News Now.

Maui

A public briefing on health care initiatives by Gov. David Ige that include a waiver from the federal Affordable Care Act and improved services for behavioral health and long-term care will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the Cameron Center Auditorium in Wailuku. Maui News.

RAM Reports Good News for Real Estate Buyers. Maui Now.

Flash floods stranded 20 hikers last month on the Commando and Bamboo trails in East Maui, including one man who was caught on camera being swept 30 feet down the side of a waterfall. Maui News.

Kauai

Step one, done. That’s what the Save Hanalei School group said about Superintendent Bill Arakaki’s decision to remove Hanalei Elementary principal Lisa McDonald effective Monday. Garden Island.

The U.S. Air Force said it is still working to address a lighting issue at its Kokee station that has led to more than 120 fallen endangered seabirds. Garden Island.

Kauai’s chicken die-off has scientists trying to rule out avian influenza. Necropsy to test for bird flu and botulism. KITV4.

The next phase of the Hauaala Road project in Kapaa near the Kuhio Highway intersection will begin this week. One lane of the roadway will be closed Wednesday and Thursday to allow reconstruction work to take place. Another is planned for next week. Traffic will be contra-flowed during the lane closures. Garden Island.

Molokai

The Molokai Ferry has adopted a new sailing schedule. The owner says this month’s changes will help stop the financial “hemorrhaging” the ferry has seen in the last two years.  But not everyone is happy about the new plan. Hawaii Public Radio.