Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Senate pushes $13.5B budget, Kauai biomass generator dedicated, Oahu judge assigned to Kenoi case, profs barred from dating students, Honolulu rail over budget again, general excise tax hike unpopular on Big Island, Maui water rights case simmers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Nathan Eagle
Crowds seek entrance into Ways & Means hearing, courtesy Nathan Eagle
State senators announced a new proposed $13.5 billion budget that would leave the state on track to spend more money next year than it collects in taxes and other revenue, but Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda said she did not immediately know how much revenues would lag behind expenses. Star-Advertiser.

State senators are pushing a state budget that directs more money to affordable housing and homelessness programs, putting more funding behind their commitment to address those problems than their colleagues in the House. Associated Press.

Senators have carved out nearly $160 million to rebuild the Hawaii State Hospital, $5 million to bail out Wahiawa General Hospital and $23.5 million to fund the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands in 2017. These were just a few of the major budget decisions that the Ways and Means Committee announced Tuesday. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii now officially bans professors from dating their students. The university came out with a new policy Tuesday that bans faculty from having romantic, sexual or dating relationships with students in their classes. Associated Press.

University of Hawaii professors are prohibited from having romantic relationships with students, under a new policy finalized Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Agencies have long relied on temporary contracts to get jobs done in Hawaii’s state government. Now Gov. David Ige and labor unions are pushing legislation to severely limit those types of contracts — saying they lessen the flow of money into the state retirement system and deny workers collective bargaining rights. Civil Beat.

For 18 years, Hawaii Long-Term Care Ombudsman John McDermott has pushed for a requirement that inspections of care facilities be unannounced. He may not have to wait much longer, thanks to a bill that the House Finance Committee passed Tuesday. Civil Beat.

When the weather gets hot that means classrooms around the state will start to heat up leaving teachers and students struggling to get through the day. KHON2.

Family and supporters of 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran Noboru Kawamoto staged a small demonstration at the state Capitol on Tuesday to lobby for a change in state law to allow Kawamoto to live in the same adult care home as his wife. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Just three months after the Honolulu City Council approved a five-year extension of the general excise tax, top rail transit officials acknowledged that extra money may not be enough to pay for Honolulu's rail project. Hawaii News Now.

Why Was Ethics Director Suspended? Report Offers Few Details. On the day Chuck Totto returns to work in Honolulu, the city releases heavily redacted documents related to his discipline. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Co. is pushing for more electric vehicles to build the utility’s customer base and make way for additional rooftop solar.Star-Advertiser.

468 acres of North Shore land across the street from the Turtle Bay resort will be forever preserved from development. Hawaii Public Radio.

In the ebb and flow of surface ships and submarines at Pearl Harbor, the tide is currently going out. The guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton, a Hawaii stalwart since its commissioning in 1995, pulled away from pier Bravo 25 at 9:09 a.m. Tuesday for a home-port switch to San Diego and dry-docking and maintenance there. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

It’s not easy raising taxes, the County Council Finance Committee discovered Tuesday. The committee’s attempt to raise the general excise tax by one-half percent starting in 2018 was met with public resistance as several people told the county it needed to better manage the money it already gets. West Hawaii Today.

Mayor Billy Kenoi touched on his years of achievements, but didn't mention his looming criminal trial at his last luncheon with the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, an annual event where the mayor and his cabinet update the community on how county sweat and dollars are making lives better in West Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald this afternoon assigned an Oahu circuit judge to temporarily preside in the Mayor Billy Kenoi felony theft case on Hawaii island. Star-Advertiser.

Doctors at the Hilo Women’s Imaging Center, part of Hawaii Radiologic Associates Ltd., are notifying patients of possible inaccuracies in thousands of mammograms as the center completes a re-certification process for its imaging equipment. Tribune-Herald.

On Sunday, a group of Aloha Aina advocates ascended to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center cross walk, where they held a short ceremony in commemoration of the first series of arrests that took place on the mountain – one year ago – on April 2, 2015. Big Island Video News.

State officials will host an informational meeting Thursday night to update Puna residents about the state Department of Transportation’s roundabout project. Tribune-Herald.

Home sales on Hawaii’s Big Island soared by more than 30 percent last month, even as prices dipped for single-family homes and plummeted for condominiums, according to data from Hawaii Information Service on behalf of Hawaii Island Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Maui

Alexander & Baldwin would no longer be eligible to retain the rights to millions of gallons of water that for decades it’s diverted from Maui streams under amendments made to a hotly contested bill that was approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee this week. Star-Advertiser.

Maui’s Ancient Water Rights Debate Headed For Capitol Showdown. Big Ag has long diverted water to serve Central Maui at the expense of others, and the dispute is outliving sugar cane farming. Civil Beat.

In 24 years, Maui island could be powered by 100 percent renewables, including solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energy, according to updated plans submitted by Hawaiian Electric Cos., which include subsidiary Maui Electric Co. Maui News.

Kauai

Eric Knutzen of Green Energy Hawaii joined a crew from Green Energy Hawaii, along with Hawaii Gov. David Ige and more than a hundred others on Tuesday to dedicate and bless one of the first eco-friendly plant of its kind in the United States. Hailed as the first biomass-based, integrated, sustainable, renewable-energy plantation in the world, the biomass-to-electricity and ethanol plant was dedicated near Koloa. Garden Island.

Everyone minded their manners at the Monday night panel discussion on the affects of pesticide use on Kauai. But they didn’t all agree. Garden Island.

A measure under consideration by the Kauai council has the potential to increase the inventory of affordable housing on the island — especially in more densely populated areas like Lihue, supporters said. Co-sponsored by councilmembers Gary Hooser and Mason Chock, Bill 2627 would allow homeowners who meet certain guidelines to construct an additional rental unit on their property. Garden Island.

The state has discovered high levels of bacteria in a Kauai stream, but warning signs won't be posted. Hawaii News Now.

A new program being rolled out this month will help develop stronger biosecurity on the island and prevent invasive species from worming their way to the ‘aina. Garden Island.

The number of single-family homes sold on Kauai in March jumped by more than 50 percent, but the median price fell by nearly 30 percent, according to data provided by Hawaii Information Service on behalf of the Kauai Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Kahoolawe

Two bills that would give the cash-strapped Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission a little more money this year are still alive as the state Legislature winds down to its final month. Maui News.