Monday, February 8, 2016

Hawaii bills tackle GMO fish, Superferry, animal rights, hemp, wrongfully imprisoned reparations, funding of innovation, elderly programs; Maui GMO ban heads to appeals court; 66 apply for medical marijuana dispensary licenses; fire chiefs claim losses; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Kampachi fish at local market © 2016 All Hawaii News
House Bill 686 would prohibit “propagating, cultivating, or farming genetically engineered fish” in state marine waters. The bill, sponsored by Democrat Reps. Kaniela Ing and John Mizuno, has a hearing Wednesday at the Capitol. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers are tackling issues from animal rights to police accountability as lawmakers head into their third full week of the 2016 legislative session. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Department of Health on Friday released a list of 66 applicants, including actor Woody Harrelson and local technology entrepreneur Henk Rogers, who submitted proposals for the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary system. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Department of Health posts medical marijuana dispensary applicants online.

Lawmakers considered a bill Friday that would legalize and set rules for growing industrial hemp. The law would require growers to register with the state and would clarify the difference between hemp and marijuana. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require the state to pay $50,000 to the wrongfully convicted for each year they were imprisoned. Associated Press.

The state Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy passed a bill late last week requiring the Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study of establishing a ferry system. Civil Beat.

Two state Senate committees are set to hear a bill Thursday that would establish a collective bargaining unit for graduate student assistants working at the University of Hawaii. Civil Beat.

The Kupuna Caucus, which looks out for senior citizens at the Legislature, last week unveiled its package of bills for 2016, including measures to provide caregiver training, long-term care services and funding for resource centers statewide. Star-Advertiser.

Testimony backing a bill to allocate money from the corporate income tax to the innovation sector has received support from several groups in the Startup Paradise ecosystem. Pacific Business News.

The top-ranked doctors in Hawaii Health Systems earn far more than other state workers, even Supreme Court justices. Civil Beat.

Oahu

There’s a straightforward way to transform Oahu’s crumbling, pothole-plagued roads into the smoother ones that drivers in other parts of the country enjoy, asphalt-pavement industry experts say, but it’s a solution that has eluded the state and city for decades. Star-Advertiser.

For decades, Oahu and the neighbor islands have grappled with hundreds of miles of so-called “roads in limbo,” and the issue continues to affect some local road maintenance, officials say. Star-Advertiser.

The North Shore Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to share their thoughts about the Laniakea parking situation with state Department of Transportation officials, according to a letter sent last week to chamber membership by its executive director. Hawaii News Now.

A new homeless shelter in Honolulu is banking on the idea that fewer rules could lead to more people off the streets. The Sand Island facility, called Hale Mauliola, has been in business for three months now. Hawaii Public Radio.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the opening of Kapolei Hale, which was regarded in 2001 as a pivotal investment in development and growth of the Ewa region. Star-Advertiser.

One person has been arrested and dozens more cited during a law-enforcement operation at Kalalau Beach in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai. KHON2.

The deaths of at least three albatross and the destruction of 15 nests at Kaena Point back in December has prompted state lawmakers to call for heightened security at the remote nature reserve. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Police issued almost 700 more speeding tickets on the Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Highway, also known as Saddle Road, in 2015 than in the previous year. Tribune-Herald.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman gave his re-election bid a boost at last year’s end with a $25,000 loan, helping him maintain a sizable fundraising advantage over challenger Greggor Ilagan. Campaign finance records show Ilagan, a Hawaii County Council member representing Puna, raised $8,412 during the last half of 2015, with $5,500 of that coming from a fundraising event in Honolulu. Tribune-Herald.

Fourteen applicants are vying to open the first medical marijuana dispensaries on Hawaii Island, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Health. Tribune-Herald.

West Hawaii Battalion Chief Ty Medeiros claimed Friday he lost $3,000 to $4,000 in overtime every two weeks when he was put on seven months paid leave last year for publicly criticizing Fire Chief Darren Rosario. During a daylong Merit Appeals Board hearing, Medeiros said he was humiliated when he was stripped of his badge and his rank insignia in front of his peers. West Hawaii Today.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking for more public input on its September proposal to list 49 species of plants and animals in the Hawaiian Islands as endangered species. The federal agency will offer an informational meeting and a public hearing Tuesday in Hilo to gather input. During the informational meeting. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear arguments on a Maui County moratorium on farming genetically modified crops, which was struck down by a federal judge in Hawaii last year. Civil Beat.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments about whether to overturn a federal judge's ruling last year that struck down a Maui County voter-approved moratorium on genetically modified organisms. Maui News.

A legal attempt by a group seeking to halt cane burning by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. continues in 2nd Circuit Environmental Court, though a judge struck down two claims in a ruling Friday. Maui News.

Maui officials are looking to encourage residents who are illegally operating vacation rentals to go through the permitting process. Associated Press.

The County Council Planning Committee drew closer Thursday to the completion of a bill that would change several portions of the county's short-term vacation rental home law to support tourism while pushing local rental operators to comply with permit laws. Maui News.

A 2nd Circuit judge Friday granted a preliminary injunction against further work on the 113-unit Ma'alaea Plantation housing subdivision - with the developers announcing after the ruling that they would commission an environmental impact statement as requested by project opponents. Maui News.

Officials in Mayor Alan Arakawa's administration are holding "high-level discussions" with Alexander & Baldwin officials about taking more water out of the Wailoa Ditch system for Upcountry customers as A&B's subsidiary Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. phases out production at the end of the year, Department of Water Supply Director Dave Taylor said. Maui News.

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education Maui District Office will conduct a community meeting to provide information on school attendance boundaries for Maui Waena Intermediate, ʻĪao Intermediate, Baldwin High and Maui High Schools. Maui Now.

Kauai

Election season has begun and candidate filings are coming in. Three candidates have put their names in the hat for Kauai County Council: Juno-Ann Apalla of Lihue, Matthew Bernabe of Kapaa and incumbent KipuKai Kuali‘i. Garden Island.

Law enforcement and cleanup operations at Kalalau Beach over the past month resulted in dozens of citations, an arrest, and the airlifting of tons of trash from the area. Garden Island.

Lanai

Maui County Council members approved a recommendation Friday to take the Lanai Community Plan update to Lanai for a public hearing March 12. Maui News.

Looking for the most luxurious Lanai experience you can find? The Four Seasons Resort Lanai may have what is the most expensive luxury suite in the state — the rate for its three-bedroom Alii Suite is $21,000 a night. Pacific Business News.