Monday, February 22, 2016

Hawaii farmland dwindling, dairy seeks state bailout, Honolulu Police sued for racial discrimination, cocaine possession mars Maui legislator's medical marijuana dispensary application, bad year for coffee, Legislature pares bill list, Kauai lobbying bill advances, Humane Society in Big Island group's cross-hairs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Island farmland © 2016 All Hawaii News
There's a drop in the number of acres devoted to agriculture between 1980 and 2015: a decline of 200,000 acres of cropland and 340,000 acres of pastureland, representing drops of 57 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Star-Advertiser.

A state Department of Agriculture study of agricultural land use aimed at helping industry, government and the community in decision-making also tells the story of the accelerated decline of farming in Hawaii, punctuated by this year's announcement of the end of sugar cultivation on Maui. Maui News.

A baseline study of agricultural land use created by a team of Big Island researchers and planners is intended to help inform future decisions as Hawaii’s agriculture continues to evolve. Tribune-Herald.

Bad weather and a lingering pest problem delivered major blows to Hawaii coffee farmers this past season, according to a new report that estimates production of one of the biggest crops in the state fell 16 percent. Star-Advertiser.

And Then There Were 2,633 — Hawaii Legislature Pares List Of Bills. A look at some of the measures that survived the first major deadline of the session, and some of what has fallen by the wayside. Civil Beat.

Owning a car could soon become more expensive as lawmakers consider increases to the state’s fuel tax and vehicle registration fees. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island state Sen. Lorraine Inouye expressed confidence Friday that a bill requiring a feasibility study for an interisland ferry would at least advance from the Senate to the House this legislative session. Maui News.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and surgeon Ben Carson have qualified for Hawaii’s March 8 presidential caucus. They join Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, businessman Donald Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich on the ballot. Civil Beat.

Under a bill making its way through the Legislature this year, an independent review board administratively attached to the attorney general’s office would conduct a separate investigation in police cases. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would give the state's counties the power to acquire electric utility property through eminent domain has passed second reading in the state House of Representatives, but it doesn't appear headed out of the House. Maui News.

State Sen. Josh Green has more than a half-million dollars in his campaign coffers, far more than any of his 24 colleagues. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Bicycling advocates are worried that a push by Honolulu City Council members to gain more control over planned bikeways and other Complete Streets projects could stymie efforts to make streets more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. Star-Advertiser.

A racial discrimination lawsuit involving three Honolulu police officers who say their lives were put at risk because of the color of their skin appears to be about to come to an end. Civil Beat.

SunEdison Inc. is urging Hawaii regulators to not approve Hawaiian Electric Co.’s termination of the power purchase agreement between the two companies regarding the Missouri company’s three proposed Oahu solar farms, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.

A $5.5 million federal grant will aid the University of Hawaii Cancer Center’s research into why cervical cancer rates are so high among certain Pacific Island populations. Civil Beat.

Christian leader Franklin Graham is scheduled to be in Honolulu Wednesday to hold a prayer rally, preach the Gospel and challenge believers “to take a stand and take action.” Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Hawaii’s largest dairy is seeking state help to develop a $10 million milk processing plant after the only local processor dramatically cut what it pays Hawaii’s last two dairy farms for their milk last year. Three bills at the Legislature backed by the administration of Gov. David Ige seek to allow Big Island Dairy LLC to finance a milk processing plant by selling bonds under the state’s authority. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Cuts To Pest Control Have Allowed Dengue To Thrive. The state aggressively attacked previous outbreaks of dengue fever that were quickly stopped but response efforts have been gutted. Civil Beat.

Fewer county police officers were fired or suspended last year compared to the year before, according to an annual report submitted to the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

The University of Hawaii is pulling out of geothermal research projects on Hualalai. West Hawaii Today.

Administrators of East Hawaii’s hospital system began last week to publicly build a case for the possibility of shutting down the Extended Care Facility at Hilo Medical Center. Tribune-Herald.

How to reduce the number of unwanted animals that are euthanized on the island? That’s the question some animal advocate groups want to answer, and they attended a town hall meeting to tackle just that. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A federal judge denied United Public Workers' request to prevent the privatization of the Maui state hospitals. Pacific Business News.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor rejected Friday an attempt by the United Public Workers union to derail the privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula and Lanai Community hospitals, according to an announcement from the state Department of the Attorney General. Maui News.

A legislator involved in a cocaine possession case in 1988 is part of a medical marijuana dispensary application.  Sen. J. Kalani English’s guilty plea on a charge of promoting a dangerous drug was deferred and the case later dismissed after he completed court requirements. Associated Press.

After two decades of steadily processing the island's green waste into compost, Maui EKO Compost recently diverted its millionth ton of waste. Maui News.

The state will pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation for failing to offer the driver’s license test in Chuukese and Marshallese. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai


The eight-member citizen fact-finding group on pesticide use by Kauai’s major agricultural operators will release the draft of its final report on March 10. Garden Island.

A bill that would regulate lobbying on Kauai evolved in committee last week, and is expected to go before the County Council Wednesday. Garden Island.

The state is renewing its efforts to tackle a decades-long problem of accumulated trash and damage to heiau in Kauai’s Kalalau Valley — the result, for the most part, of illegal camping. Star-Advertiser.

Better bus system one solution to congestion. But an all-or-nothing approach difficult with tight budget. Garden Island.

Carol Bain says she is running for another term on the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors because she wants to see certain projects come to fruition. Garden Island.

Invasive species are still successfully staking their claim on Kauai. Garden Island.