Monday, January 16, 2017

Hawaii Legislature prepares for session opening, 300 rally for health care, tourism bureau prefers closed meetings, foreclosure increase bucks national trend, homeless, squatters plague Big Island, candidates set for Kauai electric coop, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Democratic Party of Hawaii
Health-care rally, with U.S. Sen. Schatz, courtesy Hawaii Democratic Party
More than 300 people gathered Sunday at the Hawaii State Capitol for a rally to save the Affordable Care Act. KITV.

The Legislature will gather for its 29th biennial session Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the state Capitol. Among the nagging problems that confront lawmakers are the lack of affordable housing, the condition of congested state highways, and aging facilities such as the Oahu Community Correctional Center that need to be refurbished or replaced. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: The first legislative pass over Gov. David Ige’s $28.5 billion, two-year state budget drew only catcalls. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority, empowered by the Legislature to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to market the islands, is operating behind closed doors at least half the time, according to a three-month review of records by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s tight housing market is the result of a “costly, time-consuming, and politically and economically uncertain” development process and not short-term Airbnb rentals, says a study conducted for the online vacation rental company. West Hawaii Today.

With President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration a week away, Pacific Business News took the temperature of local industries on their expectations of the new administration. Hawaii Public Radio.

Embattled telecommunications provider Sandwich Isles Communications Inc. is disputing findings by the federal government that the company received more than $26 million in overpayments of federal subsidies over 10 years. Star-Advertiser.

Schatz Gets Key Role On Military Panel. Hawaii senator hopeful that new post will bring money to the state. Civil Beat.

Hawaii experienced an increase in foreclosure activity in 2016, contrasting the national trend with foreclosure activity sinking to its lowest level since 2006 according to a report by property database Attom Data Solutions. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

An FBI raid on the Honolulu prosecuting attorney's office is the latest action in a growing corruption scandal involving the chief of police and his prosecutor wife. Associated Press.

The Honolulu Police Commission won’t meet with the City Council about a retirement deal for Police Chief Louis Kealoha, who has agreed to leave the department in the midst of a federal criminal probe but is still negotiating his exit. Civil Beat.

In the first rent increases in years, the city on Feb. 1 will begin raising rates on 10 “affordable” residential properties across Oahu, including those for low-income senior citizens. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson wants to move quickly on a proposal that would presumably end the idea of developing the Malaekaha­na section of Laie. Star-Advertiser.

A former Honolulu police officer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. Associated Press.

Hawaii

It’s that time of year again, and Big Island legislators are brimming with new ideas for laws and projects they want to see in their districts. West Hawaii Today.

Harry Kim ordered the removal of a baseball diamond from the Kukuihaele Park redevelopment plan. The facility had the neighborhood sharply divided. Big Island Video News.

Homeless at Old Kona Airport Park say they’ve been told to clear out; but ‘very few places to go’ West Hawaii Today.

New players are starting to emerge in Hawaii Island’s international tourism game, as 2016 saw a noticeable increase in arrivals and expenditures from South Korean and Taiwanese visitors. Tribune-Herald.

A destructive house fire last week underscores the problem of squatters on Hawaii Island. Tribune-Herald.

Workers from entry level to highly trained professionals are needed for high-paying East Hawaii health care jobs. Tribune-Herald.

An assessment of Hawaii Island’s sandalwood supply is being planned to help state officials improve protection of what remains of the sweet-scented tree. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County’s state legislators will continue to push for a smooth transition for Maui Memorial Medical Center and will remain vigilant in ensuring that long-term projects such as the Kihei high school get the money and support they need. Maui News.

Renters in the Lahaina Front Street Apartments fear they’ll eventually be forced out of their affordable units, due to a loophole in the tax code that would allow the units to be bumped up to market rates by 2019. Maui News.

Wailuku/Kahului was one of five communities statewide chosen to join the Blue Zones Project, a community well-being improvement initiative. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has confirmed seven candidates that will run for three seats during its board of directors election in March. Pacific Business News.

During the first week of January, 17 animals were transferred to the Mainland from Kauai Humane Society as a direct result of the community’s involvement. Garden Island.

For the Surfrider Foundation, which announced its landmark 400th coastal victory over the past decade, consistently moving forward and improving coasts and oceans is the primary goal. Garden Island.