Monday, June 20, 2016

National parks boost Hawaii tourism, Chinese investors coming, coral reef symposium this week, judge allows 20 to participate in Thirty Meter Telescope case, Kaiser curbs Medicaid patients, Kauai mulls smoking ban in cars with kids, Gabbard hasn't embraced Clinton, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands


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Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park © 2016 All Hawaii News
 In 2015 visitors spent an estimated $364.5 million in local areas while stopping at National Park Service lands in Hawaii — a total up $24 million from the previous year, the U.S. government said. Star-Advertiser.

A 2015 ban on free travel for public school teachers who organize out-of-state field trips was essentially lifted Friday, after a Circuit Court judge invalidated advice given by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii is only beginning to see a trickle of what will be coming, in terms of Chinese commercial real estate investments, although developers need to do more to attract these types of key investments, an international real estate expert tells Pacific Business News.

Recent Chinese investments in Hawaii real estate total nearly one billion dollars. Hawaii Public Radio.

The International Coral Reef Symposium convenes Monday to try to create a more unified conservation plan for coral reefs. Associated Press.

After the most powerful El Nino on record heated the world’s oceans to never-before-seen levels, huge swaths of once vibrant coral reefs that were teeming with life are now stark white ghost towns disintegrating into the sea. Associated Press.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has stopped accepting new Medicaid patients, making it more difficult for those on the government-backed health insurance program that in Hawaii is known as "Quest," to find doctors willing to admit them. Star-Advertiser.

Allegations of wrongdoing by University of Hawaii employees and officials can now be confidentially reported by students, faculty, staff and the public through a whistleblower website and hotline the university has launched. Star-Advertiser.

Almost a year after Hawaii’s Environmental Court made its debut, it received high marks last week at a conference in Honolulu on environmental law. Civil Beat.

A group that sued to stop a Native Hawaiian election is persisting with its lawsuit because it fears another race-based vote will happen. Star-Advertiser.

Here’s the harsh truth about the roughly 900 prisoners released each year in Hawaii: The odds are, more than half of them will end up back in trouble. Civil Beat.

Man’s efforts to find birth parents leads to legislation that eases access to adoption records. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s top supporter of Bernie Sanders is not prepared to endorse Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. “I’m not prepared to do that,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer Friday when asked if she would back Clinton. Civil Beat.

The yearly “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report,” compiled by the Washington, D.C.-based Food Research and Action Center, ranks Hawaii No. 47 in the country for the percentage of students who ate free federal meals last summer in comparison to the school year. Tribune-Herald.

Oahu

An unprecedented and acclaimed Hawaiian feather work show that was years in the making and originally scheduled to appear at Bishop Museum in Honolulu has instead opened in Los Angeles. While the Bay Area show went off as planned, Bishop Museum apparently backed out because of the expense to bring the exhibit to Hawaii and stage it here. Star-Advertiser.

There are more than $20 billion worth of transit oriented developments planned along the rail line from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.  But experts said that stopping it at Middle Street is going to be devastating for some of these projects.  Hawaii News Now.

One-half of 1 percent of all city general fund collections are set aside for Oahu nonprofit groups each year under a Honolulu City Charter amendment approved by voters in 2012. Star-Advertiser.

Plantation housing in Ewa will be redeveloped by city. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Riki May Amano is giving everyone a seat at the table as she prepares to start a new contested case hearing for the Thirty Meter Telescope’s land use permit. During her first pre-hearing conference in Hilo on Friday, the hearings officer accepted 14 new parties, essentially everyone who applied and showed up to the cramped meeting room at the State Building on Aupuni Street. Tribune-Herald.

There are now 20 participants in permit proceedings for a giant Mauna Kea telescope. The retired Big Island judge overseeing the contested case hearing on Friday allowed the nonprofit company building the Thirty Meter Telescope to participate. Associated Press.

Attorney arguments recorded inside the cramped pre-hearing conference cut together with moments captured outside the old courthouse, as the TMT contested case proceedings begin in Hilo. Big Island Video News.

For many of the 75 or so community members and real estate agents who grabbed lunch at the Kona Elks Lodge on Friday, it was their first good look at eight mayoral candidates in the same room. West Hawaii Today.

Kekaualua steps down from campaign as DOT investigates. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

About 2,800 displaced workers on Maui received some good news on Friday as Gov. David Ige signed two bills into law that will help them during the transition. Pacific Business News.

About 30 farmers and residents gathered at Honomanū bridge along the Hāna Highway on Saturday in an effort to draw attention to their objection of House Bill 2501, which defines water rights on the island. Maui Now.

Kauai

Bill No. 2629 was drafted in an effort to address the potential harmful health risks to children who are exposed to nicotine in cars. On Wednesday, the Kauai County Council hosted a public hearing on the bill. Garden Island.

The conversation about turning Kauai Humane Society into a no-kill shelter will renew next weekend with a conference hosted by Nathan Winograd, director of the National No Kill Advocacy Center. Garden Island.

Recently, eight North Shore community members applied for a $10 million grant through XQ Super School Project, a national competition founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs. Garden Island.