Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Legislative leaders question why federal funds unspent, Maui group appeals GMO ruling, Kauai pesticide study under wraps, Ellison seeks buyer for Island Air, sewage settlement costs Maui $1M, cocaine use up, pCard use audited, guns in schools, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Hawaii House majority office
Hawaii House and Senate money committees, courtesy House majority office
Gov. David Ige’s top staff was warned Tuesday that lawmakers expect them to find out why state government has been so slow to spend federal funds, and find a way to fix the problem pronto. House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said the state departments of Health, Transportation and Hawaiian Home Lands are “terrible at utilizing federal funds.” Star-Advertiser.

The state agency responsible for enforcing and processing child support payments is facing a $1.3 million hit to its budget for the 2017 fiscal year that begins in July — a loss that will hamper customer service and overall operations, according to officials who oversee the department. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: A high-profile nonprofit organization that advocates for health and human services in Hawaii has agreed to pay a $2,000 penalty to settle charges it violated the state’s lobbying law by failing to disclose its lobbying-related expenditures over the past three years, according to a summary of the case made public last month by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. Civil Beat.

Hawaii should set aside $2.2 million in state general revenue funds to maintain and restore civil legal services for low and moderate income individuals, according to a working group of interested government agencies and community entities. Pacific Business News.

Nearly twice a month, a child is caught with a firearm at a Hawaii public school. That’s according to the Department of Education, which is required to report these incidents to the state. KHON2.

Cocaine use in the workplace doubled in the fourth quarter from the year-earlier period while marijuana still remained the drug of choice. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii regulators have struck down a request by the Department of Defense to withdraw as an intervenor in the regulatory review of NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co., according to a ruling this week. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Congressman Mark Takai pushes to compensate military personnel exposed to radioactive soil and debris in the Marshall Islands. Civil Beat.

Island Air, the Hawaii interisland airline that billionaire Larry Ellison bought nearly two years ago, may be up for sale again. Pacific Business News.

Many Hawaii residents were thankful for plentiful platters of ahi tuna they were able to enjoy over the holidays. But few realized the critical role the late Sen. Daniel Inouye played in making sure Hawaii fishermen could get it to them. Associated Press.

Oahu

The planned $300 million golf resort community for Leeward Oahu's Makaha Valley will include a 300-room, four-star hotel. Pacific Business News.

Just months before completion, the state has fired the contractor for the $66 million cargo and maintenance facility that's being built for Hawaiian Airlines. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

A bill allowing the “little guy” to engage in agricultural tourism without going through a complicated and costly permitting process faces another round of changes in the County Council Planning Committee, following council concerns Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

The current program of tax breaks for agricultural land won’t be changing anytime soon, and those who hold vacant land in agricultural zones shouldn’t expect a new tax break just yet. West Hawaii Today.

It’s been almost a month since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weighed in on the public health response to the Big Island’s dengue fever outbreak, and officials say that as a result they have instituted a number of changes to the way they are combating the mosquito-borne virus. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii County Council on Tuesday advanced a proposal to build a community park in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision, but with strings attached. Tribune-Herald.

A Waimea towing company was evacuated Tuesday morning after a possible explosive device was found attached to the front fender of a vehicle that had been towed to the yard following a weekend “Freedom Ride” rally. West Hawaii Today.

Military bomb squad determined the device strapped to the gray car in a Waimea tow yard is a fake bomb. Hawaii News Now.

Maui

A federal judge erred last year in striking down a voter-approved moratorium on genetically engineered crops in Maui County, according to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals brief filed by attorneys for the citizens group behind the county's first successful voter initiative. Maui News.

In the wake of media investigations and statewide crackdowns on the use of government purchasing cards, known as pCards, auditors have started to look into Maui County pCard accounts, and they expect to report their findings in June, county Department of Finance officials said. Maui News.

The federal court settlement over penalties for releasing partially treated wastewater into injection wells from the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility could cost Maui taxpayers an additional $1 million. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai

State and county officials have asked a consultant to hold off on releasing the initial draft report on pesticide use by large-scale agribusinesses on Kauai to allow more work on the health chapter, according to an update Tuesday. Civil Beat.

Bronson Bautista, owner at PD Designs & Armory, said the discussion about new gun restrictions proposed by President Barack Obama has already led to higher gun sales. Garden Island.

The office of the governor released additional funds to support two criminal justice programs maintained by the County of Kauai Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. Garden Island.

The president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines said Tuesday he recognizes Kauai residents want low airfares. And he believes Hawaiian Air is providing them. Garden Island.

Molokai

A ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of when the first 12 people were sent to Kalaupapa in 1866 will be held at Hoaloha Park in front of the Hawaiian Canoe Club hale at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2015. Maui Now.