Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hawaii set to lose federal Safe Drinking Act funds, state #2 in military money, Affordable Care Act waiver makes Hawaii first, more on medical marijuana dispensaries, Punchbowl condo project opposed, sex offenders get special treatment, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Freshwater stream enters Pacific Ocean © 2015 All Hawaii News
The federal government is withholding $8 million — or all of the 2015 fiscal year funding that’s earmarked for repairing Hawaii’s drinking water infrastructure — because the Hawaii Department of Health continues to do a poor job of spending federal funds, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Department of Health shouldn’t receive any more federal funds under the Safe Drinking Water Act until it cleans up its own act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General said in a report made public Monday. Daily Caller.

Read full EPA report on Hawaii's drinking water infrastructure spending here.

Hawaii still ranked No. 2 in the nation in fiscal 2014 among states with the greatest military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, but those expenditures slipped to $7.6 billion in 2014 from $8.1 billion the previous year, the Department of Defense said in a new report. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s first draft of an Affordable Care Act waiver proposal is the first of its kind in the nation. The state is seeking public input on a waiver to harmonize its relatively progressive Prepaid Health Care Act, which passed in 1974, with the federal health care law. Pacific Business News.

Protections Proposed for 49 Hawaii Species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to add 10 animals and 39 plants to the Endangered Species Act. Civil Beat.

Should lawyers be allowed to represent medical marijuana dispensaries that are legal under Hawaii state law but not under federal law? That’s the question the state Supreme Court is grappling with, and it’s asked for public input. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii’s record run of visitor arrivals and spending could be in jeopardy next year even though airlines are bringing more seats to the islands than ever before. Star-Advertiser.

While the visitor growth in August was not as strong as in previous months, Hawaii’s visitor industry continues to exceed 2014 records in spending and arrivals. Spending reached $10.3 billion for the first eight months of 2015 and contributed $1.1 billion in state tax revenue. West Hawaii Today.

Virgin America, AirAsiaX and Jin Air will begin operating flights between Hawaii and the West Coast and Asia by the end of the year, the Hawaii Tourism Authority says. Pacific Business News.

State lawmakers have confronted the issue of how to allow charitable giving by candidates in a way that creates a public benefit but doesn't give incumbents an unfair advantage over those seeking to challenge them politically. Maui News.

Treating Hawaii’s Sex Offenders: ‘Here, We Don’t Give Up on People’ Of the state program’s 800-plus “graduates,” only 20 have returned to prison after committing a new sex crime, a recidivism rate of slightly more than 2 percent. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Plans for a contentious condominium project on the makai slopes of Punchbowl crater will be subject to a public hearing Wednesday morning. Star-Advertiser.

Pearl Harbor was once known as Oahu’s “bread basket” because it was such an important fishing area, teeming with ocean life. But since the construction of the iconic U.S. military base, the pristine harbor has been marred by environmental disaster. Civil Beat.

The cost of a parking ticket and other traffic violations on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus would significantly increase next summer under a proposal that would bring campus fines in line with citations from Honolulu police and state sheriff’s deputies. Star-Advertiser.

More than a year after a violent fight between a Honolulu police officer and his girlfriend was caught on surveillance video, the internal investigation is finally done. HPD Sgt. Darren Cachola was not indicted for domestic violence but his own department could hand down stiff punishment against the 19-year veteran of the force. Hawaii News Now.

Goto Construction has been contracted by the city to refurbish 15 playgrounds across Oahu, and they’re hoping to bring a new one online every week. KHON2.

Hawaii

NASA’s announcement Monday that it found evidence of liquid water on Mars was reassuring for a University of Hawaii at Hilo team hoping to select the landing site for the first manned mission to the red planet. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Public Utility Commission has granted the request made by Parker Ranch subsidiary Paniolo Power Company, LLC to withdraw from the HEI-NextEra merger docket. Big Island Video News.

A trial begins today in a lawsuit that accuses the state Department of Land and Natural Resources of failing to properly oversee the Army’s use of ceded lands at the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

Kahului is one of the most tax-friendly places for retirees in Hawaiʻi, according to a recent study from SmartAsset, a New York-based financial technology company. Maui Now.

Kauai

Visitor expenditures on Kauai increased 15.5 percent (to $1.1 billion), which was boosted by the growth in visitor arrivals (up 4.5 percent to 802,554) and air seats into Lihue (up 5.2 percent to 473,200). Per person per day spending also saw a double-digit increase of 12.2 percent, which helped the island maintain its momentum for the first eight months of 2015. Garden Island.

The Department of Public Works used sand to fill holes at Kapaa Beach Park after an old cesspool was removed Monday morning. Garden Island.