Monday, October 5, 2015

Prominent people seek marijuana licenses, lawmakers block biotech correspondence, $1.7B tech tax credits run amok, teachers' ethics compromise planned, Big Island biotech to fuel power-hungry Oahu, $10M donated for Punahou scholarships, federal funds for false killer whale study, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

used with permission under Wiki Commons
Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis shop in Denver, courtesy O'Dea
Big-name entrepreneurs, high-profile attorneys and former politicians are positioning themselves to compete for one of the eight licenses the state will issue next year to begin selling medical marijuana legally in Hawaii for the first time. Nearly 30 new business registrations include “marijuana,” “cannabis,” “pakalolo” and “weed” in their names, many of them filed with the state since the enactment of the law authorizing the establishment of pot dispensaries. Many are associated with well-known business personalities. Star-Advertiser.

Two Hawaii lawmakers have rejected a request from a nonprofit organization seeking correspondence between the legislators and biotech companies or groups representing their interests. The Hawaii Center for Food Safety asked five lawmakers to share all their communications with seed companies such as Monsanto — as well as organizations representing them — regarding genetically engineered crops and bills related to buffer zones and pesticide use. Civil Beat.

Special state tax credits lawmakers approved almost 15 years ago to spur growth in Hawaii’s technology sector could eventually cost the state up to $1.7 billion in lost tax collections, or more than twice the amount the state previously estimated, according to the Hawaii state auditor. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Co. CEO and President Alan Oshima would like to puncture a dream once and for all: This state shouldn’t expect cheap electricity. It could become less expensive, eventually, but it won’t be cheap. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Gas’ $300 million plan to ship in liquefied natural gas in bulk amounts to the Islands could save the state in excess of $2 billion over a 15-year period from the beginning of 2019 through the end of 2033, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.

A Board of Education committee has come up with a possible solution to the ethical dilemma posed by public school teachers traveling free as chaperones on field trips they organize with tour companies. Star-Advertiser.

Bruce Anderson, a well-known Hawaii leader in environmental protection, has been selected to be administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources. West Hawaii Today.

A new federal funding source for false killer whale research will allow researchers to dive deeper into their understanding of the elusive marine species. Last week, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, in partnership with Hawaii Pacific University and the Olympia, Wash.-based Cascadia Research Collective, received nearly $1.2 million in grant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association fisheries division to support further conservation and research relating to the whales. Tribune-Herald.

Oahu

The biggest construction and renovation projects at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific since 1966 have the Department of Veterans Affairs warning visitors to Punchbowl that things will be bumpy — and noisy and somewhat unsightly — for some time at the usually serene cemetery. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Planning Commission voted last week to recommend approval of a city proposal to rezone about 282 acres in Waipahu to make way for mixed-use communities around the area’s two rail stations. Star-Advertiser.

Here’s What Homeless People Have to Do to Get Their Property Back. When belongings are confiscated instead of trashed, Honolulu’s retrieval process is too expensive and cumbersome for many. Civil Beat.

The Sierra Club of Hawaii has expressed “extreme disappointment” in Governor Ige, the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for agreeing to a settlement that the nonprofit says does not do nearly enough to protect Oahu’s drinking water from the massive, “historically leaky” fuel storage tanks beneath Red Hill. Hawaii Independent.

Punahou School announced Sunday that it has received a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor and alumnus that will have a multiplier effect on its student financial aid program. The gift represents one of the most significant philanthropic contributions in the school’s history, and by far the largest ever made outside of a capital campaign. KHON2.

An unprecedented $10 million gift to Punahou School is expected to help 150 more families over the next five years afford an education at the state’s largest single-campus private school, and advance Punahou’s long-standing goal to increase access for qualified students. Star-Advertiser

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has plans to install protective fencing on a hillside just below the popular Lanikai 'Pillbox' trail. KITV4.

Hawaii

New liquor license fees to be considered Tuesday by the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee will usher in new opportunities for county businesses, officials say. West Hawaii Today.

Work will begin Monday to restore Cemetery Road in Pahoa, a large portion of which less than a year ago was covered by lava. Tribune-Herald.

A renewable energy project in South Kohala is catching its second wind with a new operator. Lalamilo Wind Co. LLC is building five wind turbines at the former Lalamilo Wind Farm near Puako, which Hawaii Electric Light Co. decommissioned in 2010 after operating for 25 years. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has approved a contract between Hawaiian Electric Co. and Pacific Biodiesel Technologies to supply biodiesel for Oahu power generators. West Hawaii Today.

VIDEO PRESENTATION: Ka’u Coffee Economic & Risk Analysis. Big Island Video News.

Maui

Maui is down to only a handful of agricultural inspectors a day - the frontline defense against new invasive species arrivals such as the little fire ant and coqui frogs - and there does not appear to be any relief in sight with a deadly fungus rapidly killing Big Island ohia trees. Maui News.

Former Maui Film Commissioner Harry Donenfeld's termination from his job nearly two years ago went unexplained publicly at the time, but in a recent interview Mayor Alan Arakawa disclosed that Donenfeld was fired because "he wasn't coming to work, period." Maui News.

Road work begins today, Monday, Oct. 5, in the Summit District of Haleakalā National Park. Maui Now.

The mayor's South Maui budget meeting that was canceled due to a tsunami advisory Sept. 16 has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Kihei Community Center. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai’s Hilo Hattie store isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Even though the company is downsizing and relocating its flagship store on Oahu, company officials say the original Kauai branch will stay right where it is. Garden Island.

The newest store in the Longs chain on Kauai was blessed and dedicated Sunday morning before a handful of customers. Garden Island.