Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ige seeks cool schools, affordable housing, new Oahu jail in State-of-the-State address; hotel tax a sticking point for mayors; bills mulled for lottery, birth control from pharmacists, lower blood-alcohol for DUI; more government news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy Sen. J. Kalani English
Gov. David Ige State-of-the-State address, courtesy Sen. J. Kalani English
Gov. David Ige used the words “long overdue” five times in his second State of the State address Monday. Speaking before a packed Hawaii House of Representatives chamber, the governor identified issues that he said had been neglected but could wait no longer for action. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige vowed in his second State-of the-State speech to install fixes that will cool 1,000 public school classrooms by the end of the year, and to launch an initiative to develop water, sewer and other infrastructure to make it easier to for companies to develop affordable housing. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige outlined the broad strokes of his policy agenda for the upcoming year, promising to focus on affordable housing, homelessness and conditions in public schools in a speech that paid homage to the state’s past while embracing the need for change. Associated Press.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige discussed several funding issued during his second State of the State address on Monday, including a proposal that the state fund $30 million over the next six years to support growth in the innovation sector. Pacific Business News.

The Governor delivered his second state of the state address to the legislature today. Hawaii Public Radio.

In his second State of the State address, Gov. David Ige made a big push for affordable housing units, a key to address the ongoing concern about homelessness. KHON2.

Lawmakers agree on Governor’s priorities but want to see details. KITV4.

County mayors say they were caught off guard during a budget briefing Monday when powerful members of the Legislature questioned a recent panel recommendation that state lawmakers significantly increase the counties’ share of the state hotel room tax, known as the transient accommodations tax. Star-Advertiser.

The mayors of Honolulu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties told legislators Monday that the state should give them a bigger share of the 9.25 percent transient accommodations tax that it collects from visitors. The counties currently split $103 million of the hotel tax revenue, and the cap drops to $93 million next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Civil Beat.

The powerful chairs of the state House and Senate money committees on Monday dashed the hopes of the four county mayors that the counties would easily get a bigger share of money collected from hotel rooms and other short-term rentals. West Hawaii Today.

It doesn’t have a hearing scheduled yet, but there is a bill to allow lotteries in Hawaii. It was introduced last Friday by Joe Souki, the speaker of the House of Representatives, who said recently that a lottery for the state is a distinct possibility. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers introduced legislation that would make it easier for adult women in Hawaii to get birth control. Right now, women can only get certain contraceptives through a physician. If passed, the bill would allow women older than 18 to get hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, patches and rings directly from pharmacists without having to visit a doctor. Associated Press.

One Hawaii lawmaker wants to impose a DUI game-changer, lowering the limit below the .08 blood alcohol percentage used in all 50 states. KITV4.

Rep. Romy Cachola says the state should spend the money to turn the reflecting pool surrounding the State Capitol into dancing fountains with bright lights and music. KHON2.

Homeless outreach specialists and volunteers walked for hours all over the state on Monday counting the homeless for the annual Point-in-Time Count. Hawaii News Now.

High school students using e-cigarettes will likely graduate to tobacco, a two-year University of Hawaii Cancer Center study found after following 2,300 Hawaii teenagers. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.2 percent in December after the number was revised upward by one-tenth of a point for November.The last time the rate was this low was in January 2008, according to data released Monday by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Property taxpayers can expect to see a 9 percent increase in rates to subsidize annual operational costs for the 20-mile rail system when it comes online in late 2021. Star-Advertiser.

The Oahu Board of Registration has concluded that Hawaii Sen. Brickwood Galuteria and his wife Abigail did in fact live in a one-bedroom apartment with the senator’s mother in Kakaako during the 2014 general election, despite a complaint brought by a political opponent. Civil Beat.

A new plan to stabilize a famous stretch of shoreline is moving forward. Funding for the Royal Hawaiian Groin Replacement project will be provided by the state and commercial property owners in Waikiki. Hawaii News Now.

Eight months after the University of Hawaii launched an internal investigation of UH Manoa’s chief academic officer over faculty and staff complaints of bullying and racist and sexist behavior, UH expects to hand the case over for an outside decision-maker. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has rejected Kamehameha Schools’ request to block a judge’s order to turn over evidence trust officials gathered in their own investigation of a former teacher charged with using a hidden camera to record students showering in his apartment. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii’s four county mayors went to the capitol on Monday to present their local needs to state lawmakers. Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi joined Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., and the City and County of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell for an informational briefing before the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance Committees. Big Island Video News.

East Hawaii administrators for Hawaii Health Systems Corp. say they are continuing to review changes to their long-term care services following a public grilling last week by state Rep. Richard Onishi, D-Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is requesting the state charge “sufficient” rent to observatories on Mauna Kea. Bills introduced on behalf of OHA in the state House and Senate would require University of Hawaii, which holds a master lease for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, to account for environmental damage, impact to Native Hawaiians and administration of its management plan, among other factors, when assessing lease payments. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A road repair project on Kahekili Highway is pending while officials decide how best to protect a nearby burial site thought to contain multiple human remains. Maui News.

The hearings officer in the East Maui watershed contested case is calling for the restoration of 18 million gallons of water a day to 10 streams currently being diverted mainly for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. operations - but he did not take into consideration the impending closure of the plantation at the end of 2016. Maui News.

Maui Electric Co. has donated $30,000 to the University of Hawaii Maui College to establish an endowment fund for students enrolled in the school's sustainable science management program, according to an announcement. Maui News.

The Maui Humane Society has received a $258,000 grant from PetSmart Charities to expand the society's veterinary clinic, according to an announcement. Maui News.

Kauai

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whales National Marine Sanctuary expansion plan will be discussed at the sanctuary’s advisory council meeting today. But a Jan. 22 letter from Suzanne Case, chairperson for Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, was a tell for how the meeting might shake out. Garden Island.