Monday, April 4, 2016

GMO hearings planned for June, rail officials want Ala Moana station, bond sale saves state $32.8M, judges shun Kenoi case, OHA's Lindesey suffers stroke, PR for Honolulu police, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may hold hearings in June on three cases related to genetically modified farming in Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties. The appeals court hasn’t officially scheduled the hearings yet, but it notified parties recently that they may be held June 13-17 in Honolulu. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige’s plans to address Hawaii’s homelessness crisis and affordable-housing shortage are competing for funding with other priorities in the Legislature, and some advocates are concerned that lawmakers are not setting aside enough money to solve those pressing problems. Associated Press.

The state refinanced $345 million in general obligation bonds Thursday in a move that will save the state $32.8 million during the next eight years, according to an announcement from Gov. David Ige. Star-Advertiser.

A bill to allow the cultivation and distribution of industrial hemp for research was approved by the House Finance Committee on Friday. Civil Beat.

Hawaii spends roughly $17 million a year on the salaries of state employees whose main mission is to keep the islands safe from natural- and human-caused disasters. Civil Beat.

State utility regulators are weighing a switch to smart meters for thousands of Hawaiian Electric Co. customers. Associated Press.

Embattled telecommunications company Sandwich Isles Communications has asked the Hawaiian Homes Commission to certify it as an eligible telecommunications carrier so that it can potentially resume receiving millions of dollars in federal ratepayer funds to subsidize its phone and Internet service on Hawaiian homelands. Star-Advertiser.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairperson, Robert K. Lindsey Jr., suffered a stroke a few weeks ago, and the agency says he is now in the process of recuperating. Big Island Video News.

The University of Hawaii will be presenting its proposed tuition schedule for fall 2017 through spring 2020 to the community at public meetings statewide from Monday, March 28 to Thursday, May 5. KHON2.

Oahu

City rail officials appear to be massaging their construction schedule to preclude the Legislature, City Council and public from any temptation to stop the financially troubled $6.57 billion project at Middle Street instead of running to Ala Moana Center. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department will pay a public relations firm about $125,000 over a year to train its two police public relations professionals as well as leaders and officers. Associated Press.

When they were announced last year, accessory dwelling units were touted as a potential quick fix to help alleviate O‘ahu’s housing shortage. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

It appears no Big Island judge will hear the pending theft trial of Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. Tribune-Herald.

The state indictment charging Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi with theft and lying about purchases he made with his county-issued credit card does not include any of the more egregious allegations, including that he used the card to pay Honolulu hostess bar tabs, to buy a surfboard and bicycle or to pay his state lawyer association dues, according to an analysis of the credit card statements. Star-Advertiser.

Retired Hawaii Island Circuit Court Judge Riki May Amano has been chosen as the hearings officer to conduct a new contested case hearing regarding the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope project atop Mauna Kea, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Friday. Civil Beat.

A retired Hawaii state judge will serve as a hearing officer for a contested case hearing redo for the Thirty Meter Telescope land permit, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said. Pacific Business News.

A bill to privatize Honokohau Harbor after years of disrepair is gaining steam at the Capitol. And the state agency which now oversees the facility is backing what could become a model for privatization of small boat harbors across Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

A group of Papaikou mill beach users and their supporters stood along Highway 19 on Friday to again urge Hawaii County officials to make the only trail to the small black sand beach a public path.Tribune-Herald.

A Life Flight helicopter which has been allowed to permanently park on Hilo Medical Center’s helipad will soon be getting the boot. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The Special Committee on County Governance voted 6-5 on Thursday afternoon to pursue some form of county manager government. Maui News.

Hawaiian Electric Cos., including subsidiary Maui Electric Co., is seeking to embark on a $340 million project to install smart grid technology which will allow customers to monitor their electricity use by computers or mobile devices and the utility to improve grid operations and integration of renewable energy. Maui News.

Kauai

Creating transportation alternatives that would decrease Kauai’s traffic congestion and carbon footprint is a long road. Garden Island.

State health officials are blaming the fecal waste of feral pigs, sheep, rats, birds and possibly a dozen land tortoises for polluting a stream that people frequent on the south shore of Kauai. Civil Beat.

In its continuing effort to maximizing efficiency, the Kauai Transportation Agency next month plans to implement new bus routes, resulting in savings of up to $120,000, according to the county. Garden Island.

Lanai

Technical difficulties in maintaining clear videoconference or phone communications with Lanai testifiers pulled the plug on the Maui County Council's attempt to pass the Lanai Community Plan update on first reading Friday. Maui News.