Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Little grass shack revived, lawmakers advance hundreds of bills, Honolulu could get smaller share of hotel tax, Hawaii County Council chairman remains under ethics cloud, Maui water battle at Capitol, Honolulu wealthy live 6.6 years longer, dengue emergency extended, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo
Historical photo of Hawaiian little grass shack, provenance unknown
Lawmakers and community members are pushing to revive the Hawaiian tradition of living in hale (pronounced hah-lay), thatched homes made from local trees and plants as a way to provide more affordable housing. Though a bill to ease restrictions on building hale died after critics brought up safety concerns, advocates are trying to bring attention to a type of housing that celebrates culture and uses environmentally sustainable techniques to house the homeless. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Legislature passed hundreds of bills ahead of a major deadline, making decisions on a variety of issues including smoking in cars and drug overdoses. They also passed bills to pay for air conditioning Hawaii’s public schools, allow women to get up to a year of birth control at a time and criminalize trespassing on state lands. Associated Press.

Members of the state Senate and House of Representatives are likely headed for a contentious showdown over bills involving water rights, vacation rentals, renewable energy, the homeless and each county’s share of the transient accommodations tax. Among the hundreds of bills that lawmakers gave preliminary approval to on Tuesday, those bills touched off some of the most spirited debate on the floor of the two chambers at the state Capitol. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii is looking for solutions to its homelessness crisis, and lawmakers are considering a program to help connect homeless people with day jobs. Associated Press.

Lawmakers are introducing a bill to crack down on animal abandonment. Associated Press.

Legislation calling for the creation of a sports and entertainment authority passed the Hawaii state Senate Tuesday. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu stands to lose millions of hotel-tax dollars from the state under a measure the House passed Tuesday, which could put city officials in the difficult position of cutting programs or raising property taxes to make up the lost revenue. Honolulu had received a 44.1 percent share of the amount the state gives the counties. The latest version of the bill knocks that down to 30 percent while boosting the portion each neighbor island county receives. Kauai would get 20 percent instead of 14.5 percent; Hawaii County would get 25 percent instead of 18.6 percent; and Maui would get 25 percent instead of 22.8 percent. Civil Beat.

An agreement is in the works between the city and the Hawaii Community Development Authority to prevent homeless people from returning to Kakaako the morning after every sweep. Star-Advertiser.

The ACLU of Hawai‘i Foundation (ACLU) today announced the publication of a “know your rights” guide for houseless individuals impacted by City & County of Honolulu sweeps to enforce the Stored Property Ordinance and the Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance. Hawaii Independent.

The Honolulu Charter Commission is scheduled to take up a proposal this week that could undermine the Honolulu Ethics Commission’s enforcement of conflict-of-interest provisions of the charter. Civil Beat.

A day after HART's board chairman stepped down amid growing concerns about Oahu's rail project, officials sought to reassure residents that the $6.5 billion rail project is on track and will continue as planned. Hawaii News Now.

A Hawaii agency has approved a development agreement with a New York developer to build a low-income Honolulu rental project that will include smaller, efficient units such as micro-units. Pacific Business News.

The top 25 percent of income earners in Honolulu live 6.6 years longer on average than residents at the bottom income quartile, a new national study found. Hawaii News Now.

An illegal lizard was captured in Waianae last Friday, the state Department of Agriculture said. Star-Advertiser.

Despite being acquitted of a misdemeanor assault charge by a Circuit Court jury in March, a 29-year-old police officer must still undergo an internal review, which would determine whether he violated the department’s standards of conduct, before his police powers can be reinstated, police said Monday night. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

An ethics complaint against Hawaii County Council Chairman Dru Kanuha pending since September remains unresolved after a 2-2 vote Tuesday by the county Board of Ethics, with one board member abstaining. Tribune-Herald.

The spread of dengue appears to have halted on Hawaii Island, but the state is not ready to declare the battle over just yet. With peak tourist season approaching, Gov. David Ige opted Monday to extend the state’s emergency proclamation over mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and Zika.  Civil Beat.

With no new cases of dengue fever reported on the Big Island since late March, state and county officials are concentrating efforts on staving off future outbreaks of vector-borne illnesses. Tribune-Herald.

The public is getting its chance to weigh in on a plan to install new moorings and replace old ones at Keauhou Bay — a proposal which has drawn fire from the public and a lawsuit from the Keauhou Canoe Club. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Hawaii State Senate passed a heavily debated water rights bill Tuesday on a 17-6 vote after deliberations that were sometimes drowned out by protesters banging on empty jugs of water with wooden sticks. House Bill 2501 now awaits private negotiations between House and Senate conferees during which it could be dramatically altered without public knowledge before a final vote in early May — the last week of the legislative session. Civil Beat.

Before the Senate convened on a day of expected heavy voting, a group walked the Senate floor door-to-door in hopes of convince lawmakers vote against HB 2501, which would allow the diversion of streams to the benefit of Central Maui farmers and the detriment of taro farmers to the east. Civil Beat.

A contingent of East Maui taro farmers and supporters rallied at the State Capitol today seeking the return of water to streams. Maui Now.

Maui Mall is a step closer to beginning its $10 million expansion and renovation project, which will be phased in over the next several years. Maui News.

Eight non-native mallard ducks from the La'ie wetlands near St. Theresa Church in Kihei have died since Friday and botulism is suspected, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Monday. Maui News.

Kauai

Two seed industry members of the Joint Fact Finding Group that released a draft report of pesticide use by agribusiness on Kauai in February have resigned. Garden Island.