Thursday, December 10, 2015

Teachers union seeks tax hike, Kaiser Medicare premiums increased, Honolulu rail tax advances, Muslim harassed on Honolulu street, Mick Fleetwood vacation rental OKed, Maui environmental manager resigns, body cams for Kauai police, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Department of Education
Honolulu school, courtesy photo
The Hawaii State Teachers Association is proposing a 1 percent general excise tax hike, which the union estimates would generate $750 million a year for education needs. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s education system is in dire need of an overhaul, according to the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association. The union has identified 10 areas that need improvement and is including them in an omnibus bill that will be introduced during the 2016 legislative session. To fund the bill, it is proposing a 1 percent increase in the state’s General Excise Tax, with a few caveats. Garden Island.

Randy Iwase, chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission, said Wednesday some commitments offered by NextEra Energy Inc. to win support for its proposed purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries aren’t any different than what the Hawaii utility would do on its own. Star-Advertiser.

Colton Ching, vice president of energy delivery for Hawaiian Electric Co., said Wednesday during his time on the stand for the regulatory hearings on NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of the Honolulu-based utility, that there are some commitments that aren’t necessarily new, but instead a promise to continue what is currently being done. Pacific Business News.

The Ige administration is struggling to fill nearly 350 vacancies on state boards and commissions. Civil Beat.

With less than one week left before a Dec. 15 deadline, nearly 6,000 people in Hawaii had signed up for health coverage using the federal government’s healthcare.gov website during the open enrollment period that began Nov. 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

House and Senate negotiators announced today that they reached agreement on bipartisan legislation to make permanent a moratorium that prevents states from taxing access to the Internet. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which opposes the measure, estimates that Hawaii’s state government would lose about $20 million in tax revenue, based on 2012 figures, when the tax is phased out. Associated Press.

According to United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Annual Report, Hawaii is the healthiest overall when compared to all US states. Hawaii News Now

About 15,000 senior Kaiser Permanente Hawaii Medicare plan members will see an increase in their monthly out-of-pocket premiums on Jan. 1. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday moved a step closer to approving a bill requiring consumers on Oahu to pay a 0.5 percent surcharge on the general excise tax for five more years to help finance the city’s $6.57 billion rail project. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council voted Wednesday to keep alive a bill to extend a 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge by five years, from 2022 to 2027, to help pay for a growing deficit in the municipality’s $6.6 billion rail project. Civil Beat.

In response to critics of rail who say shutting down the project could save taxpayers money, officials said Thursday that dismantling what's been built already and terminating contracts would have a huge price tag. Hawaii News Now.

The Honolulu City Council deliberated today on the bill to increase funding for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. Hawaii Public Radio.

Bobby Bunda held a campaign fundraiser at the Pacific Club in downtown Honolulu on Dec. 1, suggesting his desire to return to elective office. The former Hawaii Senate president asked for contributions of $500 in a bid for the District 2 seat on the Honolulu City Council. Civil Beat.

An Oahu grand jury could take up the case of a Honolulu police officer repeatedly beating a man with his baton — an act caught on video, the prosecutor’s office said. Star-Advertiser.

State officials took another step Wednesday toward clearing out homeless encampments at two Kakaako parks. At a special meeting, the Hawaii Community Development Authority board signed off on what its officials call “abandoned property protocol” — rules guiding how the agency will enforce nighttime closures at Kewalo Basin Park and Kakaako Waterfront Park. Civil Beat.

A 36-year-old marketing manager who wears a traditional hijab said she was harassed for her Muslim religion by an unidentified man who made offensive comments as he followed her from Alakea Street to Bishop Street. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Council members are expected to approve a $1.2 million settlement this week for a 2008 motorcycle crash on Kaluanui Road in Hawaii Kai that left a man paralyzed. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Supreme Court will hear an oral argument Thursday from 10-11 a.m. at Waianae High School, part of an ongoing outreach program intended to educate students about the law and democracy. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Exclusive interview with Gov. David Ige about Thirty Meter Telescope project. Hawaii News Now.

An eruption of multiple large fights sent Pahoa High and Intermediate School into lockdowns the past couple of days and required police response. Adults trying to intervene are being assaulted. KHON2.

As NextEra Energy Inc. continues to seek approval of its $4.3 billion acquisition of the Hawaiian Electric companies, organizers behind a movement to pursue a nonprofit utility on the Big Island say their business model could save Hawaii Electric Light Co. customers as much as $113 million on their electricity rate base in a four-year period. Tribune-Herald.

After more than a week of increased traffic congestion along one of Puna’s main arteries because of the construction of a new roundabout, local elected officials are searching for ways to improve driving conditions during the project timeline. Tribune-Herald.

A community resource center and emergency shelter is moving ahead at the Kailapa Homestead in Kawaihae. West Hawaii Today.

A brief lull in the number of reported dengue cases doesn’t mean the disease is anywhere near finished with the Big Island — a fact highlighted Wednesday when the fever resumed its steady march with six new cases. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Kyle Ginoza has resigned as director of the county Department of Environmental Management and has taken a job as general manager for Maui operations of Hawaii Gas. Maui News.

Mick Fleetwood, drummer and co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, was approved Tuesday for a permit to use a cottage his late mother lived in as a short-term rental in Napili. Maui News.

It's official. What had been known for more than 100 years as Iao Stream is officially the Wailuku River. Maui News.

The already slow-moving proposal to build a 1,500-home town development at Olowalu has come to a full stop after the state Land Use Commission rejected the developer's draft final environmental impact statement Monday. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry says he plans to launch the state’s first body camera program before the end of the year — with or without support from the state’s powerful police union. Civil Beat.

Kauai County doesn’t have a long-term financial plan, so county officials are bringing consultants on board to help form one. At the cost of $40,000, the Government Finance Officers Association will help Kauai County develop a financial vision for the future. Garden Island.