Friday, February 19, 2016

Bill would let imprisoned felons vote, DLNR creates oversight panel after newspaper reports land-lease abuse, bill allowing media access at disaster scenes clears committee, sight-seeing helicopter crash alarms Pearl Harbor tourists, Thai restaurant fined for taking down health placard, tax reform for Kauai, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Prison guard in Hawaii © 2016 All Hawaii News
Hawaii would become the third state to allow imprisoned felons to vote if House Bill 2773 becomes law. Incarcerated state residents would be allowed to vote by absentee ballot under the bill introduced by Rep. Kaniela Ing. It’s scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ controversial revocable-permit program could be in for some big changes. Suzanne Case, chairwoman of the agency’s board, announced Thursday the formation of an eight-member task force, including several members from outside the department, to review the program and recommend revisions to ensure the process serves the public trust and provides transparency and consistency. Star-Advertiser.

With six months to go before the Aug. 13 primary, two high-profile lawmakers seem to be having trouble raising money for their re-election bids. But while Reps. Calvin Say and Tom Brower may be cash poor, two of their colleagues — Romy Cachola and Sylvia Luke — have been raking in the cash, despite easy wins in the 2014 election. Civil Beat.

More than 40 percent of Hawai’i’s homeless live unsheltered on neighborhood streets, parks, beaches or vacant properties.   But the state does not plan to spend more on shelters for this population. Hawaii Public Radio.

News media could be granted access to restricted areas in emergency situations under Senate Bill 533, but critics worry reporters might put themselves in danger or interfere with rescue workers. Civil Beat.

As the three members of the Public Utilities Commission weigh whether to let NextEra Energy take control of Hawaiian Electric Industries, a regulatory dust-up that came to a head in Florida six years ago might offer some guidance. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige is urging Hawaii lawmakers to appropriate $9.4 million to fund the state’s troubled health insurance exchange. Star-Advertiser.

Ige Nominates 7 To Environmental Council. The neglected council has struggled to meet over the past year due to lack of quorum. Civil Beat.

Cultivating cannabis has become somewhat mainstream and one startup is hoping to harness the excitement of the growing trend to create a commodities trading platform for hemp, which can only be operational in 27 states, including Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

Hawaiian Airlines and other U.S. carriers now have two more opportunities to land another coveted slot at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono are praising an agreement announced Thursday that will add more flights between the United States and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii in general, and Hawaiian Airlines in particular, could reap more visitors from new agreements between Japanese and American aviation officials. Hawaii News Now.

Voting on a bill that would create no-spray buffer zones around sensitive areas was deferred by The Hawaii House Agriculture Committee in a joint hearing with the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection Tuesday, essentially killing the bill for this legislative session. Garden Island.

Oahu

A sightseeing helicopter carrying a family of four crashed just offshore of the USS Arizona Memorial visitor center Thursday morning, shocking tourists and prompting a few people to dive into Pearl Harbor to help those in the overturned aircraft. Star-Advertiser.

WATCH: Helicopter crash video near Ariz. Memorial. KITV4.

Schnitzer Steel and smaller metal recyclers would receive a 25 percent discount in refuse disposal fees under a bill passed 7-1 by the Honolulu City Council. Star-Advertiser.

Rail leaders have restarted condemnation proceedings for Blood Bank of Hawaii’s headquarters in Kalihi, despite the blood bank’s urging that they hold off as negotiations continue. Star-Advertiser.

A Thai restaurant in the Windward City Shopping Center faces a $7,000 fine for removing a yellow “Conditional Pass” placard that had been posted at its entrance after Health Department inspectors found food safety violations. Star-Advertiser.

Drivers stuck in traffic along the Waianae Coast may be getting some relief.  An afternoon contraflow lane in Nanakuli could be in operation in the next month or two, said state Rep. Andria Tupola, (R) Nanakuli. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Lawmakers have advanced a bill curbing the ability of counties to pass their own laws regulating geothermal power plants. Three Senate committees voted late Wednesday afternoon in favor of an amended version of SB 2535, which gives the state exclusive authority to regulate “geothermal resources development and geothermal resources exploration,” unless it delegates that power to the counties. Tribune-Herald.

Puna Pono Alliance President Robert Petricci made the trip to Oahu to testify on Senate Bill 2535 relating to Geothermal Resources Exploration and Drilling. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. plans to kick one of its renewable energy partners to the curb. The utility said this week it likely will terminate next month a power purchase agreement with the foundering Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC plant in Pepeekeo, after the company failed to meet key deadlines in its effort to provide Hawaii Island with up to 10 percent of its energy needs in renewable power, totaling 21.5 megawatts. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The Maui Police Department is seeking proposals for a body-worn camera system, as it takes a closer look at the technology. Maui News.

The Maui Police Department is considering outfitting officers with body-worn cameras. Hawaii News Now.

Heavy rains Tuesday night and early Wednesday flooded the Maui County Service Center at the Maui Mall, damaging computers and motor vehicle records, shutting down power and generating a foul smell. Maui News.

The Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau today launched its new “Maui Mavericks” public relations campaign and selected 16 next-generation leaders as Maui ambassadors for the program. Maui Now.

Kauai
Kauai County needs real property tax reform, but a 3 percent assessment cap for homestead and long-term affordable rental properties could provide relief for some families while county officials hash out a complete overhaul. That was the general consensus of the committee that took on the assessment cap bill on Wednesday. Garden Island.

Actress Julia Roberts has dropped the asking price — for a second time in less than a year — of her beachfront estate on the Hawaii island of Kauai by about $4 million to $21.95 million, Pacific Business News has learned.