Monday, January 23, 2017

Bills for free tuition, school funding, Zuckerberg's land plans, $2B housing bond flow in new legislative session, Ige's State of the State address today, lower coffee rules to stay, Maui to vote on GMO repeal, veto override, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Wind farm on Big Island
President Donald Trump has disputed climate change, pledged a revival of coal and disparaged wind power, and his nominee to head the Energy Department was once highly skeptical of the agency’s value. What this means for states’ efforts to promote renewable energy is an open question. Associated Press.

Hawaii could soon join other states in offering tuition-free college under legislative proposals to have the state pick up the cost of tuition and other school expenses for needy students enrolled at University of Hawaii community colleges. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Cash-Strapped Small Schools Struggle To Operate. The teachers union and a Maui state representative will push proposals to better fund remote neighbor island schools. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are introducing dozens of measures that aim to solve Hawaii’s homelessness crisis and increase affordable housing, including a proposal to issue $2 billion in state-backed bonds to develop public housing, shelters and apartments. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority faces losing its sunshine exemption in the wake of criticism from lawmakers and members of the visitor industry that it isn’t transparent about how it spends tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to market the islands. Star-Advertiser.

State health officials are pushing this year to restore adult Medicaid coverage for basic dental care nearly eight years after it was cut amid the 2008 financial crisis. Star-Advertiser.

As Hawaii struggles to stem homelessness and prison overcrowding, Gov. David Ige wants to take a new approach: connecting people arrested for low-level drug crimes with social services rather than putting them behind bars. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige will give his third State of the State address to the Legislature at 10 a.m. Monday in the chamber of the state House of Representatives at the Capitol. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: Fellow Democrats faulting governor for lack of decisiveness and clear leadership. Star-Advertiser.

Robert Farrell, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ new chief of enforcement, pledged to work on improving efficiency and providing more resources to staff as he takes the reins as helm of DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The Honolulu Police Department let millions of budgeted dollars lapse unspent, while some divisions, including the police commission, have seen spending soar in recent years. KHON2.

Honolulu motorists whose commute includes the east end of H-1 and the adjoining Kalanianaole Highway should plan detours when heading home this week, as workers are expected to be repairing a broken water main until Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Six Hawaii County department heads and seven deputy directors make less than their subordinates, an issue the county’s Salary Commission will focus on at a meeting next month. Tribune-Herald.

A compromise among coffee producers statewide is leading to continuation of lower standards that were temporarily put in place in 2014 in the wake of an invasion of coffee berry borers. West Hawaii Today.

Two Kona legislators are pushing for management changes at the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor as its state of disrepair, and the overall quality of other harbors like it, have become a growing source of frustration across Hawaii Island. West Hawaii Today.

Honomu residents will ask the county Parks and Recreation Department to save their iconic banyan trees. Tribune-Herald.

Starting today, all Priority Mail stamps sold around the country will feature an image of Hilo’s Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. Tribune-Herald.


Maui

The Family Life Center’s new state contracts for emergency shelter and other services for Maui homeless people have forced the facility to reduce its number of beds from 50 to 18 and to discontinue shelter services for families and men. Maui News.

Kauai

Over 120 years have passed since a handful of businessmen with loyalties to the U.S. led a coup d’etat to overthrow the Kingdom of Hawaii, but some Native Hawaiians on the Garden Isle continue to advocate sovereignty. Garden Island.

Solutions to Kapaa’s traffic will be discussed Thursday at a public meeting hosted by the Kapaa Business Association. Garden Island.

Council to vote on mayor veto, GMO repeal. Garden Island.

School transgender guidelines implemented smoothly. Garden Island.

Lanai

Entire Island of Lana'i without power. KITV.

Lanai High & Elementary School will be closed Monday due to the power outage on the island, the state Department of Education announced at 9 p.m. Sunday. Maui News.

A Hawaii lawmaker said Friday he plans to introduce a bill aimed at closing what he calls a “legal loophole” that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is using to gain ownership of small pieces of land, or kuleana lands, within his 700 acres of oceanfront property on the island of Kauai. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Dairy Farms, a long-planned 699-cow operation on the island of Kauai being funded by billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Honolulu investment firm Ulupono Initiative, has reached a key milestone. Pacific Business News.