Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hawaii voters could take selfies with ballots under bill passing Legislature, cool schools funding advances, dengue fever over, Maui council mulls $654.5M budget, church v. state for Honolulu council, insurance companies to be barred from transgender discrimination, hotel tax stalemate, geothermal home rule at issue, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Seniors at Waikiki beach © 2016 All Hawaii News
The state has launched a campaign to inform travelers about a website that provides almost real time updates on surf, weather and safety conditions at beaches across Hawaii. Associated Press.

Editorial: Disappointed? New Warning Signs Soft-Pedal Real Danger. State and tourism officials just don’t want to say anything that could scare tourists — especially when it comes to drowning in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Hawaii House lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday explicitly supporting a voter’s right to take a selfie showing their marked ballot, even in the voting booth. The bill, which had already cleared the Senate, now heads to Gov. David Ige for his signature. Civil Beat.

House and Senate negotiators appear close to agreeing on proposed legislation to pay for Gov. David Ige’s pledge to cool 1,000 public school classrooms by the end of 2016. Star-Advertiser.

Insurance companies would not be allowed to discriminate against transgender patients under a bill passed Tuesday by the state House of Representatives. Associated Press.

House and Senate lawmakers have a lot of negotiating to do over the next two days if they want to reach an agreement on how much state hotel tax money to give the counties. The Senate version of the bill simply increases the cap to $103 million for fiscal 2017, which starts July 1, up from $93 million. And it preserves the percentage that each county has long received. The House version of the bill blanks out the overall allocation and dramatically changes the percent each county would get. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers have agreed to give long-term care facilities more money to help them afford to take care of clients on MedicaidCivil Beat.

Hawaii Medical Service Association's new pre-authorization policy has stirred opposition from many Hawaii doctors who say it is delaying critical imaging tests, resulting in harmful consequences for patients. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet commander said he plans to expand the role of the U.S. 3rd Fleet commander and her staff in the Asia-Pacific region. Associated Press.

Hawaii is the only state in which both legislative and executive branches are perceived to be very corrupt. Civil Beat.

A monument honoring Hawaii's fallen law enforcement officers is almost complete after years of delays. Once the construction work is done, Hawaii will no longer be the only state without a memorial honoring county, state, and federal officers killed in the line of duty. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu
Honolulu City Councilmen Ernie Martin and Joey Manahan contend their proposal to subsidize the expansion of a Christian evangelical megachurch in Kalihi will benefit the community, despite criticism that it’s unconstitutional. Martin and Manahan have suggested providing $250,000 of taxpayer funds to help New Hope Oahu’s $10 million capital campaign to renovate and expand its Sand Island headquarters. Civil Beat.

Using public money to pay for new church facilities. According to the latest budget amendments, two city councilmen want to blur the line between church and state. KHON2.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell tried a soft-sell approach with City Council members Tuesday in his latest attempt to gain funding for a proposed eight-person housing development division. Star-Advertiser.

An Ewa Beach campaign for State House is getting ugly. One man is accused of taking down political signs while the other is accused of violence. Now, the courts and police are involved. Hawaii News  Now.

Honolulu Harbor dredged after 17 years. KITV4.

A luxury condominium-hotel in Waikiki will be opening soon. But first, the developer must obtain approvals from the city two years after construction started. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Chinese company that plans to develop a luxury hotel and residential condominium on 23 acres of land in West Oahu is buying a planned 516-acre master-planned golf course community from James Campbell Co. that would connect the City of Kapolei with Ko Olina Resort, the seller confirmed to Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

State lawmakers will meet today in a conference committee to discuss the fate of a bill aimed at curbing the ability of counties to pass their own geothermal regulations. Tribune-Herald.

The nonprofit corporation that wants to build a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea is asking to participate in a hearing about the project’s construction permit. Associated Press.

After the state Department of Health posted on its website Tuesday that it would no longer be updating daily its dengue fever outbreak numbers, a spokeswoman confirmed to West Hawaii Today that Gov. David Ige would be addressing the vector-borne illness today. West Hawaii Today.

Public opposition to a proposed 306-unit condominium development in Kahaluu has led to a contested case hearing on the massive timeshare plan. West Hawaii Today.

After months of clear skies during a drier-than-usual rainy season, wet weather has pushed back the expected opening date of the Pahoa roundabout. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County Council budget Chairman Riki Hokama unveiled a $654.5 million budget for the county for the next fiscal year, a 5 percent increase over the current year's budget, but $57 million less than Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposal. Maui News.

Protesters gathered on three islands Tuesday morning to send a noisy message to Alexander & Baldwin: Give up the rights to the millions of gallons of water diverted each day from East Maui streams. Star-Advertiser.

Demonstrators on three islands led chants of “e ola i ka wai, mauka to makai” — water is life, from the mountains to the sea — in separate “Free the Streams” rallies focused on water rights and opposition to Alexander & Baldwin’s continued stream diversions. Maui Now.

Dozens protest bill allowing diversion of Maui water. Associated Press.

The photographer who caught a rainbow over cinder cones at Haleakala Crater in an image that will appear on a commemorative U.S. Postal Service Forever Stamp had one chance to be picture perfect. Maui News.

Kauai
In order to give Coco Palms developers time to make sure finances are in order to start demolition on the hotel, the Kauai County Planning Commission voted Tuesday to defer the the topic until next week. Garden Island.

A Kauai man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault involving two young girls who belong to the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii Lihue Clubhouse, where he was a volunteer. Star-Advertiser.