Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Legislature kills bill to fly homeless to mainland, only DNA was recovered from Marine helicopter crash, Thirty Meter Telescope hearings officer sought, Ige defends slow response to dengue, Honolulu Mayor Caldwell grows $1.6M war chest, public opposes NextEra Hawaiian Electric purchase, Kona could beat Honolulu to bike-share program, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy of Hawaii House Majority Office
Sen. Gil Kahele funeral procession, courtesy Hawaii House Majority
A motorcade tribute with the body of the late state Sen. Gilbert Kahele passed the state Capitol on Tuesday and then continued its trip to Big Island locations.

Hawaii lawmakers killed a bill today that would have funded a program to fly homeless people back to the mainland, saying some people may view it as an opportunity for a tropical vacation. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s controversial program to fly homeless people back to the mainland is likely to expire at the year’s end. The Legislature adopted the three-year program in 2013, infusing it with $100,000 in state funds to buy one-way tickets to those wishing to return to their families on the mainland. Civil Beat.

A bill to exempt members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents from a law that requires them to publicly disclose their financial interests cleared its first hurdle in the House on Tuesday. Civil Beat.

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Gov. David Ige on Tuesday defended his response to the ongoing dengue fever outbreak, following criticism from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on Friday that included a call for him to declare a state of emergency. Tribune-Herald.

The stubborn outbreak of dengue fever on Hawaii island underscores the potential threat to the state from other mosquito-borne diseases like the fast-spreading Zika virus, linked to devastating birth defects in Brazil. Star-Advertiser.

Responding to Hawaii’s largest dengue fever outbreak since World War II has stretched state resources thin, an issue that the state will have to address in order to be prepared for future outbreaks, Gov. David Ige says. Civil Beat.

It’s been 3 months since the Dengue Fever Outbreak was first reported on the Big Island.   There are also concerns of it spreading to the neighboring islands.  The Governor brought the County and State responders to the Capitol for an update. Hawaii Public Radio.

Gov. Ige and other county and state officials said in a news conference Tuesday that they are continuing an “aggressive, collaborative response” to the current dengue fever outbreak on Hawaii Island. KHON2.

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The proposal for a Florida company to acquire Hawaii’s largest electric utility does not sit well with most Hawaii voters. And, when it comes to state government officials being capable of making a sound decision on the merger, people also don’t think state regulators have their interest at heart, according to a new Civil Beat Poll.

Staffing shortages and inefficient technology are hampering operations of the special-education program in Hawaii’s public schools, according to an internal audit released this week that found the program is functioning at a “marginal” level. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering dozens of proposals to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as a couple that could legalize recreational marijuana. Associated Press.

The state Health Department is going ahead with rules banning cesspools statewide even after state lawmakers rejected similar proposals last year. Hawaii News Now.

Fitch Ratings is concerned about First Hawaiian Bank’s future after BNP Paribas and has placed its support rating and long-term issuer default rating on negative watch. Pacific Business News.

Scientists have discovered four new species of algae in waters 200 to 400 feet deep at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Bolstered by an active fundraising effort since winning the race for Honolulu Hale three years ago, Mayor Kirk Caldwell owns a hefty $1.6 million campaign war chest to draw from as he gears up for a re-election bid. Star-Advertiser.

As of Dec. 31, Kirk Caldwell was sitting on $1.6 million for his re-election in 2016. The figure comes from the Honolulu mayor’s filing this week, which covers the past six months of 2015. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro has asked FanDuel and DraftKings to stop operating their daily fantasy sports contests on Oahu, his office said Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

The Marine Corps today clarified a statement it made Monday about remains being recovered from the Jan. 14 crash of two CH-53E helicopters off Waimea Bay, killing all 12 service members aboard. trace elements of remains, in the form of DNA, were recovered during the search and rescue phase that ended on 19 Jan. Star-Advertiser.

Trace elements of DNA have been found from Marines killed in a helicopter crash off Oahu last month, the Marine Corps said Tuesday. Associated Press.

Hawaii

Hawaii officials are looking for a hearings officer to oversee proceedings for a permit to build the Thirty Meter Telescope. Telescope officials haven't indicated whether they will pursue a new contested case hearing after the state Supreme Court in December voided the project's permit to build on conservation land on Mauna Kea. Associated Press.

If all goes as planned, Kailua-Kona could be the first community in the state to have a bike-share program. West Hawaii Today.

Several Big Island lawmakers are backing legislation that would establish seven “science and technology research subzones,” including one covering Mauna Kea’s astronomy precinct. Tribune-Herald.

A 39-year-old Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer, accused of sexually assaulting a girl, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault in Circuit Court in Hilo. Star-Advertiser.

A state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer accused of the New Year’s Day rape of a 16-year-old girl on a Hilo beach pleaded not guilty to all charges Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Virgin America airlines today announced it is expanding its service to Hawai’i with daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Honolulu, Oʻahu on May 5, 2016, and Kahului, Maui on June 14, 2016. Maui Now.

Maui-based Kokua Realty LLC has taken over management of the Lahaina Business Park on the Valley Isle. Pacific Business News.

"Your County with Mayor Arakawa" will be televised live on Akaku Channel 55 at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Maui News.

Kauai

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where he attended the 84th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. While there, the mayor also met with Hawaii’s congressional delegation and their staff as well as with federal partners. Garden Island.

In November, 10 fuzzy Hawaiian Petrel babies were taken from their mountain burrows in the Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve and transplanted into artificial nesting boxes within the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. It was the first phase in a plan to establish a protected breeding colony of the endangered Hawaiian Petrel. Garden Island.

Lanai

Lanai's tourism engine restarts, and Larry Ellison turns the key. Pacific Business News.