Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Taxes for teachers; Legislature mulls polystyrene food container ban, drone restrictions, affordable housing bonds, extending rail tax; Molokai mule rides may shut down, Kauai bridge uproar, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii State Teachers Association 012717
Hawaii State Teachers Association Jan. 21, 2017 Honolulu rally
A number of bills to tax investors and tourists to improve public education are advancing through the Legislature. Hawaii Public Radio.

After postponing making a decision last Friday, a House committee Monday amended and passed two measures that would use taxes to provide more funding for public schools in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Scheduled for a joint committee hearing Wednesday, Senate Bill 1109 would ban food vendors from using styrofoam and other polystyrene containers. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are advancing an assortment of bills this year to begin collecting state excise taxes that are owed for online sales of retail products, a step that one lawmaker estimates might haul in an extra $80 million a year for the state treasury. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii usually budgets tens of millions of dollars annually to subsidize affordable housing development, but Sen. Will Espero wants to increase that to $2 billion to tackle the state’s severe housing shortage. Civil Beat.

State supports increasing fines from $250 to $750 for distracted driving. KHON2.

Hawaii lawmakers are working to tackle the thorny issue of how to regulate drones again this year but have already sidelined one bill while acknowledging that a second measure will likely morph into a permanent working group to further study the issue. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers are considering new restrictions for drones that they say are aimed at helping keep the skies safe. Hawaii News Now.

A new Hawaii bill would add penalties and increase the amount of electric vehicle parking spaces shopping malls and other places would need to dedicate at their respective properties. Pacific Business News.

Legislation introduced Friday would prohibit registered lobbyists from serving on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees. But there’s only one target of the bill at this point: Keli‘i Akina. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai representatives have introduced a bill that seeks a stricter sentence for people found guilty of family abuse of keiki. Garden Island.

Representative Beth Fukumoto is weighing whether to stay in Hawai‘i’s Republican Party. It’s a decision that has brought her the attention of national media. Hawaii Public Radio.

The federal court has approved a final settlement in a landmark lawsuit over the religious rights of Native Hawaiian inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center, an Arizona prison where about 1,700 Hawaii prisoners are housed. Civil Beat.

President Donald Trump Seeks To Put Hawaii Case On Hold. The Trump administration says Hawaii’s challenge of travel ban should wait until a mainland case is resolved. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Key Hawaii state senators are moving against the deal proposed last week that would extend Oahu’s rail tax in exchange for the city relinquishing a share of those rail dollars to the state for neighbor island projects. Star-Advertiser.

Rail Tax Surcharge Measures Face Big Votes This Week. The measures before Hawaii Senate panels call for extending the general excise tax hike on Oahu and returning the state’s skim to the city. Civil Beat.

A state senator held a town hall meeting, Monday night, to address the traffic tie up that left drivers stuck for hours, as they headed toward Hawaii Kai on the H-1. KITV.

A fraud and misspending investigation launched in 2013 at Kaiser High School ended years later without anyone being charged. But now players on both sides of that case are in the middle of an education shakeup. KHON2.

The city finally has come up with proposed new rules to crack down on the illegal vending that’s gone on at Oahu beach parks for decades. Civil Beat.

A new Hawaii bill would provide a major boost to the untapped potential of hydroelectricity on Oahu by pumping millions of dollars into a project that would utilize the Nuuanu reservoir in Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

The solar industry continues to dim as the number of solar energy system permits issued on Oahu in January was cut in half from the same period last year. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The state Department of Transportation will begin swapping out speed limit signs on Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, starting today. Tribune-Herald.

A new, increased speed limit is about to take effect on Saddle Road, also known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Big Island Video News.

Another piece of a North Kohala shoreline trail is set to fall into place Wednesday, when the County Council plans to take up resolutions granting pedestrian and vehicle access. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A pilot project to offset carbon emissions and restore forests around Kahikinui has been proposed by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Maui News.

Abandoned building full of history. A lone two-story cement building standing in the middle of a field on the West Maui Mountains side of Mokulele Highway is a curious but familiar sight for passers-by. Maui News.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is seeking to fill seven primary and alternate seats on its advisory council, according to an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maui News.

Kauai

Public outcry over the construction of a $2.7 million, 20-ton bridge Keahua Stream on Kuamoo Road, in an area known as “loop road,” has sparked another public meeting on Kauai about the project. Garden Island.

A health facility, school buildings, affordable housing and park improvements are on the list of capital improvement projects Kauai legislators say are necessary for financing. Garden Island.

A pair of bills related that would change Hawaii law in response to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s “quiet title” actions filed against owners of small pieces of land, or kuleana lands, within his 700-acre oceanfront property on Kauai continue to move ahead in the state Legislature. Pacific Business News.

A next-generation guided missile with ramifications for the protection of Hawaii on Friday successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target west of the Hawaiian Islands in the first such shoot-down attempt, demonstrating a greater defensive capability for the United States and Japan, which jointly developed the missile.  Star-Advertiser.

Surfrider, DOH zero in on Moloa‘a Stream: A distinct odor saturates the area around Moloaa Bay during heavy rains, and it smells like sewage, according to area residents. Garden Island.

Molokai

A popular Molokai mule tour is on the verge of shutting down after more than 40 years in operation. Kalaupapa Rare Adventures guides visitors on mule rides down a 1,600-foot cliff to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula. Hawaii News Now.