Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Humpback whales show island preference, Senate leaders rebuke Honolulu over rail costs, lawmakers mull county share of hotel tax, bill requires gray water reuse, Meadow Gold milk recalled because of bacteria, Mauna Kea's future subject of closed-door meetings, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii
Humpback whale breach, courtesy Kohala Sail & Sea, PC: Michael Faughn
Few humpback whales showed up to be counted Saturday at the Kauai sites of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. Contrary to the other sites on Oahu and Hawaii island, Kauai counts were low. Garden Island.

A total of 984 humpback whale sightings were reported during the 2017 Great Whale Count on Maui over the weekend, including 544 pods (or groups of whales) and 88 calves. Maui Now.

Hawaii lawmakers might create a group to develop a way to collect data on how vacation rentals affect Hawaii’s tax revenue, housing supply and brand as a visitor destination. Associated Press.

The state Senate will vote on a bill boosting the counties’ share of the transient accommodations tax to $108 million a year. Currently, the counties share $103 million, an amount scheduled to decrease to $93 million next fiscal year. Tribune-Herald.

The House Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing Tuesday morning on House Bill 1586, which would phase out the counties’ share of transient accommodations over a three-year period and implement new income tax brackets and rates. Maui News.

Developers who want to construct buildings in Hawaii would have to install systems to reuse gray water under a bill in the Legislature. Associated Press.

The state is doubling down on its efforts to crack down on welfare cheats, or people who get more than their fair share of the benefits meant to help those in need. KHON2.

The state Department of Health ordered Meadow Gold Dairies to stop selling its 2 percent reduced-fat milk because of signs of potential contamination. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Department of Health issued a cease and desist order to Meadow Gold Dairies on Monday to halt its distribution and sale of 2-percent reduced fat milk after lab results from routine milk samples exceeded standard limits for coliform bacteria. Pacific Business News.

Just one-fifth of the classrooms Gov. David Ige pledged to air condition by the start of 2017 have been completed. Civil Beat.

The number of permitted solar systems on the neighbor islands continues to slide. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Airlines says it has become the first U.S. airline to join an international research project on climate change and air quality. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s David Ige joined a bipartisan group of governors Monday at a press conference to discuss the needs of their states. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Senate leaders delivered Honolulu’s mayor and those overseeing the city’s troubled rail project a harsh rebuke Monday when they advanced a measure that aims to help finish building the transit system without another tax extension. Star-Advertiser.

Wielding a scalpel the size of an axe, the Hawaii Senate’s budget committee on Monday sliced off scores of pages from a bill intended to help Honolulu fund its troubled rail project. Civil Beat.

An 11th hour call to bring rail down to street level has lawmakers wanting to know if it’s possible. KITV.

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha today officially closes out a 33-year career, his seven years at the top now overshadowed by a federal investigation into conspiracy and corruption. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department says it doesn't have the money for key programs, but is letting $12M sit idle in the bank. Hawaii News Now.

Two Oahu residents were charged last Friday in separate incidents of alleged theft from State of Hawaii accounts. West Hawaii Today.

Embattled owners of 'no-kill' animal shelter in Makaha deny abusing animals. Hawaii News Now.

The Pacific Beach Hotel has hired six new employees for leadership positions within the hotel as part of its $115 million renovation and rebranding as the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, to be completed by this fall. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii


A process to form a vision for the future of Mauna Kea is starting to take shape. A 10-member committee, known as the Hui Ho‘olohe, will begin receiving feedback from Hawaii Island residents next month, said Friends of the Future executive team leader Susan Maddox, who is managing the process. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Harry Kim convened a meeting last week with Hawaii County Civil Defense and officials at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to discuss how to better protect visitors to Kilauea’s 61g lava flow, currently the most popular tourist attraction in the state. West Hawaii Today.

Persistent records requests from three Kailua-Kona residents have put state and county agencies on the defensive, leading to attempts to clamp down on those they think ask for too much information. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii island boat owner faces a state fine of $10,000 as the Coast Guard has stepped up enforcement in response to an apparent increase in illegal charters drawn to the Kilauea Volcano lava gushing into the ocean. Star-Advertiser.

A young pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) was euthanized after being flown to the Big Island last week. The decision was made by wildlife biologists from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife and was made to prevent the bird’s continuing suffering. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

As wind farms statewide are killing more Hawaiian hoary bats than expected, a Maui wind farm is asking the state to increase the amount of endangered bats and nene it’s allowed to incidentally kill. Maui News.

Kauai

The United States Navy wants to take advantage of the sun on Kauai’s Westside by installing a 44-megawatt solar array and a battery storage facility on 180 acres at the Pacific Missile Range Facility. Garden Island.

The Navy wants to power up what could be one of the largest solar farms in the state at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, where ongoing missile testing requires unwavering power for flight tests that process huge amounts of data. Star-Advertiser.

If elected to serve on the board of directors of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Hermina Morita promises to use her experience in policy making to ensure the co-op thrives. Garden Island.

If elected to serve on the board of directors for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Norma Doctor Sparks wants to focus on how the co-op helps residents recover from natural disasters. Garden Island.

Hawaii officials say an invasive parakeet is causing health and environmental problems on Kauai. Associated Press.