Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Hawaii may return to the little grass shack, lawmaker seeks better vetting of state officers following rape, Honolulu incinerator procurement violations probed, bid window opens for marijuana dispensaries, Kauai to consider lobbying law, Bishop Estate to sell Waipio Valley, expert doubts NestEra purchase will happen, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Forest & Kim Starr [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Little grass shack, Hana, Maui, courtesy Forest & Kim Starr
State lawmakers are considering a unique solution to the housing crisis: They want to make it possible for people to live in traditional Hawaiian grass huts. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmaker proposes grass huts to help homeless. KHON2.

A state senator is raising questions about the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ employment practices after the agency hired an officer who had been fired about a year earlier from the Honolulu Police Department and was arrested last week on allegations he sexually assaulted a female minor while on the job. Star-Advertiser.

A state law enforcement officer charged with five counts of sexual assault of a minor on the Big Island is a former Honolulu policeman who was fired in 2012 after falsifying reports and lying to investigators about his whereabouts when he was transporting an underage runaway. Civil Beat.

The vice president of the state Senate said he plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session requiring all state and county law enforcement agencies to list in a database all officers fired or forced to resign from their agencies. Tribune-Herald.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will host a meeting Friday regarding the future of more than 80 commercial and industrial parcels in Hilo, but there is one site in particular expected to garner a lot of attention. Tribune-Herald.

The state Department of Health opened an 18-day bidding window today for companies interested in competing for medical marijuana dispensary licenses. Star-Advertiser.

NextEra Energy Inc. will not win state approval for its $4.3 billion buyout of Hawaiian Electric Industries, according to UBS Financial Services Inc., a Zurich-based investment research firm.Star-Advertiser.

NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co. won’t go through because of the current challenges the Florida energy giant is facing, according to a recent analysis by financial services giant UBS. Pacific Business News.

Several bills are being drafted to clarify the current mandatory peer review for accountants, according to the Hawaii Association of Public Accountants. Pacific Business News.

The U.S. Supreme Court started its January session today by listening to arguments in a case that could have huge ramifications for unions in Hawaii. Friedrichs V. California Teachers Association, challenges the ability of unions to collect mandatory dues. Civil Beat.

The number of two-year degrees awarded through the University of Hawaii’s community colleges has doubled in recent years thanks in large part to an initiative that tracks transfer students who move on without an associate degree. Star-Advertiser.

Measures Adopted To Protect Fishery Observers In Western, Central Pacific. Following another recent disappearance, a regulatory commission finally takes steps to discourage abuse of observers aboard fishing vessels. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A City Council committee will hold a public hearing Wednesday on findings from the city auditor that the Department of Environmental Services violated policies and procurement laws in awarding contracts to build and operate the HPOWER waste-to-energy plant. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council enters the new year with push coming to shove on the $6.6 billion commuter rail project. For months, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials have appeared before the full council and its budget committee urging the leaders to approve a five-year extension of the 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge for rail. Civil Beat.

Mayor weighs in on alcohol park controversy. KITV4.

A Waialua bakery will pay a $6,000 settlement for food safety violations that prompted the state Department of Health to temporarily close the store. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Bishop Museum is committed to include Waipio Valley community members in the process as it works to find a new owner for its land within the historic agricultural community and popular tourist attraction, museum CEO Blair Collis said Monday. Tribune-Herald.

The commission charged with prioritizing county land purchases isn’t ready to commit to buying a popular Kaloko trailhead, despite advocates’ concerns the land could slip from the public’s hands. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii residents interested in seeing and learning more about the telescopes on Mauna Kea’s summit will soon get a closer look through a new program ready to launch on Saturday. Hawaii News Now.

Maui

After decades of petitioning and planning, the long-awaited Kīhei High School in South Maui broke ground off Pi‘ilani Highway at 9 a.m. this morning, Monday, Jan. 11. Maui Now.

When Don Medeiros was hired as the county's first transportation coordinator in 2002, there was no Department of Transportation and no public county bus system. Now, the man who had a hand in building both from the ground up is back at the helm of county transportation issues. Maui News.

Rep. Angus McKelvey and Sen. Rosalyn Baker will hold their annual Pre-Legislative Session Community Talk Story meeting on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, beginning at 10 a.m. at Kaunoa West Maui Senior Center in Lahaina. Maui Now.

The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management, Solid Waste Division, announced that due to a staff shortage, a residential refuse collection route in the Kahului area was not picked up today. Maui Now.

Kauai

Kauai is the only county in Hawaii that doesn’t have an ordinance governing lobbying. On Wednesday, the county will be taking a first look at a draft for an ordinance doing just that. Garden Island.

Even though the county’s barking dog bill is back before the County Council for a second reading — the last step in the process before it becomes law — Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura doesn’t believe there’s enough information to make a good decision. Garden Island.