Friday, February 12, 2016

State agency seeks to save coral, challenges to medical marijuana selection secrecy and care home inspection confidentiality, labor lawsuit dismissed in Maui hospital privatization, bill would ban feeding feral cats on public land, Schatz calls for swift dengue action, illegal vacation rentals targeted on Oahu, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy state Department of Land and Natural Resources
Growing coral faster, courtesy state Department of Land and Natural Resources
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is establishing a new coral nursery at Sand Island that aims to serve as a sort of “neonatal intensive care unit” to help restore damaged reefs as well as a bank for Hawaii’s native corals. Star-Advertiser.

Officials in Hawaii have come with a plan to grow large chunks of coral in a fraction of the time it would normally take. In doing so, they hope to create a stock of replenishing species to build up damaged or unhealthy reefs in the future. Associated Press.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser told the state Health Department on Thursday it will file a lawsuit if the agency does not release by the close of business today the names of committee members who will award Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary licenses.

Health Officials: Don’t Make Us Post Care Home Inspections Online. Hawaii health officials say they “strongly supported” a bill that would let them stop following a law they’ve struggled to comply with, but senators killed the measure. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers are pushing for more police oversight in the wake of incidents that they say chipped away at the public’s trust. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department is opposing an effort to create statewide standards and training for law enforcement officers, while state law enforcement agencies support the proposal. Hawaii News Now.

To help relieve overcrowding in jails, Hawaii lawmakers advanced a bill that would release from custody some misdemeanants — people convicted of misdemeanors. Civil Beat.

State legislators advanced two bills Thursday that address regulation of taxicabs and ride-hailing companies that use smartphones to connect independent drivers with fares. Star-Advertiser.

Charter School Commission Executive Director Tom Hutton is stepping down after three years on the job, having put in place a new accountability system for charter schools and overseen the contentious closure of one of the state’s oldest charter campuses. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s airports could have their own governing body in the coming years thanks to a Senate bill seeking to expedite modernization of the state’s key transit system. Tribune-Herald.

A bill to prevent large commercial solar operations from setting up shop in residential neighborhoods is moving ahead at the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

House Bill 1668 would authorize any state court to permit the use of a facility dog in a judicial proceeding “involving the testimony of a vulnerable witness if the court determines that there is a compelling necessity for the use of a trained and credential facility dog to facilitate the testimony of a vulnerable witness.” Civil Beat.

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin has filed a complaint in 1st Circuit Court seeking to officially dissolve the defunct Hawaii Health Connector, citing that its assets are being "misapplied or wasted." Pacific Business News.

The state maintained its 2.3 percent growth forecast for Hawaii’s economy this year and raised its projection for visitor arrivals but said it expects tourists to spend less in 2016 than previously anticipated due to the strong U.S. dollar and the weakening of foreign currency. Star-Advertiser.

In the first seven months of the fiscal year general tax fund deposits have surged 7.3 percent compared to the same period in the previous year, according to a statement released by the Department of Taxation. Pacific Business News.

The Center for Public Integrity analyzed lobbying registration data from all 50 states from 2010 through 2014. Civil Beat.

Predator bill could outlaw feeding of feral cats on public land. KITV4.

With the changing face of Hawaii communities, the State Historic Preservation Division will be surveying and documenting residential neighborhoods on Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island. Maui News.

Oahu
The city is turning up the heat against operators of illegal vacation rentals, putting more inspectors in the field and scanning the Internet for advertisements. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department pushed back Thursday against criticism that it isn’t doing enough to catch rapists after it was disclosed that 1,500 rape kits collected from alleged victims of sexual assaults have gone untested. Star-Advertiser.

Some businesses along Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City say they have been suffering because of the rail project. KITV4.

Hawaii
Thursday evening, officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources considered a rule amendment that would establish the Kaupulehu Marine Reserve, where no marine life could be taken inside of 120 feet of water. The kapu is being proposed to allow the shoreline ecosystems near the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai a chance to recover from what some say has been years of overfishing. West Hawaii Today.

The TMT International Observatory’s decision to consider locations other than Mauna Kea for its next-generation telescope didn’t come as much of a surprise to supporters of the project, given the hurdles it still faces. Tribune-Herald.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz called Thursday for a swift response to Hawaii Island’s dengue fever outbreak. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County Council Chairman Mike White listed an annual income of more than $180,000 and newly appointed Environmental Management Director Stewart Stant won $85,000 from Las Vegas table games, according to financial disclosures recently filed with the Maui County Board of Ethics. Maui News.

A federal judge has denied an effort to halt privatization of three hospitals in Maui County. Civil Beat.

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday filed by the United Public Workers, clearing a potential roadblock to the takeover of operations of three Maui County public hospitals by Kaiser Permanente on July 1. Maui News.

The names of the four candidates vying for the top post in the county Department of Liquor Control were disclosed Wednesday during a county Liquor Commission meeting. Maui News.

A January court ruling invalidating Alexander & Baldwin’s permits to tap millions of gallons of water a day from Maui streams could also affect other companies, farmers and developers that are allowed to use public water without conducting environmental assessments or consulting with Native Hawaiians on whether the use affects taro farming and other customary practices. Star-Advertiser.

There are a handful of bills dealing with industrial hemp before the state legislature this session.   Some lawmakers are looking at ways to help 675 Maui sugar workers who are scheduled to lose their jobs at the end of the year. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kauai

The State Historic Preservation Division will be surveying residential neighborhoods on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii islands, starting this month. Staff will be on Kauai Feb. 16 to 18 and visit Hanalei, Kapaa, Lihue and Hanapepe. Garden Island.

Power outages on the Lihue Airport runway caused a 45-minute delay Wednesday for travelers in Honolulu. Garden Island.