Friday, March 4, 2016

Ivory prohibition sought, cigarette taxes advance, former Mayor Kim to run again, Honolulu mayor vetoes recycling bill, Coco Palms to become a Hyatt, state consumer advocate says biogas not renewable, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Elephants at Honolulu Zoo © 2016 All Hawaii News
Hawaii’s black market ivory trade is thriving online, in stores and at swap meets, animal activist groups claimed Thursday. Civil Beat.

Wildlife advocates met at the Hawaii Capitol on Thursday to discuss the state’s illegal ivory trade, which they say could become the largest in the U.S. if left unregulated. Associated Press.

A proposal to allow Hawaii voters to decide whether to impose term limits on state lawmakers died this week after Senate Judiciary and Labor Chairman Gilbert Keith-Agaran told his fellow committee members he was shelving the bill indefinitely. Star-Advertiser.

The House Finance Committee breathed new life into spending bills Thursday by waiving the 48-hour notice typically required for a hearing, including House Bill 1932, which would appropriate funds to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Civil Beat.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved measures this week to tax e-cigarettes and prohibit smoking of any kind in cars containing minors. Civil Beat.

Political junkies have had a lot to watch this year as national elections have been playing out through caucuses and primaries around the country. But Hawaii’s 2016 election season is ramping up, too, with both the state Republican caucuses and the Democrats’ presidential preference poll in March. Civil Beat.

Interest in this year’s presidential election is at record levels in many states across the country, and the respective party chairs in Hawaii say it’s no exception here. KHON2.

Local Republicans can have their say Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at dozens of precinct locations across the state. Civil Beat.

Hawaii is the only state that holds its statewide primary election on a Saturday. This year, the primary is Aug. 13. Civil Beat.

A Hawaii resident who contracted the Zika virus while traveling in the Pacific is the first case of the mosquito-borne virus confirmed in the state so far this year, officials said Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

The state has confirmed the first imported case of Zika in Hawaii this year. Hawaii News Now.

Investors wanting to own commercial real estate in Hawaii bought a near-record amount of such property last year. Star-Advertiser.

More than half of Airbnb hosts in Hawaii rented space last year in their primary homes, rather than second homes or vacation rentals, according to a new survey by the alternative lodging service. Pacific Business News.

You may have heard that growing numbers of kama‘āina are renting out rooms on Airbnb, but how many are doing so? And why? Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu

A bill that would give Schnitzer Steel Hawaii Co. and other smaller recyclers a 25 percent discount on refuse disposal fees was vetoed Thursday by Mayor Kirk Caldwell, likely setting up an override vote by the Honolulu City Council. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has vetoed a bill that would have provided a $600,000 annual subsidy to recycling companies. The vast majority — $530,000 — would have gone to Schnitzer Steel Industries, an Oregon-based company that reported $1.9 billion in revenue last year. Civil Beat.

The city and state spent more than $9,000 to send four state and city employees to Florida last week to inspect a new $118,117 boat that the Hawaii Community Development Authority is buying for water safety in Kakaako’s Kewalo Basin. Civil Beat.

A City Council bill that proposes a moratorium on the construction of larger developments from Aiea to Kalihi is generating support from several residents and officials who view the measure as a way to help address traffic congestion. Star-Advertiser.

Former and current residents say the Oasis townhouses in Waipahu have turned into a haven for rats. Hawaii News Now.

As a “homeless concerns” liaison in Hawaii’s public schools, Clyde Aikau tracks nearly 300 students and their families. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Former Mayor Harry Kim is jumping into the mayoral race once again. Kim said Thursday he’s decided to run again, this time on a campaign to restore trust in government. West Hawaii Today.

Former Big Island Mayor Harry Kim says he wants his old job back. Hawaii News Now.

A Windward Planning Commission meeting got heated Thursday when testifiers scolded Hawaii County officials because a proposed study on the impacts of geothermal development on Native Hawaiians is stuck in bureaucratic limbo. Tribune-Herald.

A judge has recused himself from hearing a voter fraud case against a blogger who ran unsuccessfully for County Council in 2014. Tribune-Herald.

Festooned with lei and applauded by a full room of staff and well-wishers, Randy Kurohara was confirmed Wednesday by a unanimous County Council vote as the county’s new managing director. West Hawaii Today.

Nearly 49 percent of electricity provided to the Big Island by the Hawaii Electric Light Co. in 2015 came from renewable energy, according to a statement from HELCO’s parent company, Hawaiian Electric. Civil Beat.

Maui

The state consumer advocate is calling on the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to reject the idea that Anaergia's proposal to sell biogas to Maui Electric Co. is the equivalent of renewable energy. Maui News.

The Maui County Liquor Commission plans to choose the next Department of Liquor Control director at its regular monthly meeting next week after interviewing all four candidates on Wednesday. Maui News.

The state House today advanced several bills including legislation in support of Maui sugar workers, ahead of next week’s crossover deadline. Maui Now.

A two-year time extension request for a 100 percent affordable housing project in Kihei is headed to the Maui County Council on Friday. Maui News.

Kauai

Pledging to continue her decades-long commitment to community service, Norma Doctor Sparks of Koloa has announced her candidacy for Kauai County Council. Garden Island.

Kauai's iconic Coco Palms Resort
is getting ready to reopen again under a new brand. The scheduled reopening date is spring of 2018 and will be part of a new brand called 'Unbound collection by Hyatt.' Hawaii News Now.

The Kapaa refuse transfer station will be accepting only bagged trash and green waste today to allow for the repaving of Kahi Road, the roadway leading up to the transfer station. Garden Island.