Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hawaii tourism spending up 10%, tax hike for teachers trimmed, raw milk rules sought, Oahu daycare deaths prompt legislation, Big Island bond rating improves, Kealoha's last day, Kauai fights mangroves, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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A turnaround in the Japan tourism market and strong business from the U.S. mainland helped Hawaii’s visitor industry start the year with robust arrivals and spending. Star-Advertiser.

Spending by visitors to Hawaii jumped 10 percent last month compared to the same time a year earlier. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority will spread $3.3 million of its product enrichment funding across 128 programs statewide. Star-Advertiser.

Legislation to tax investors and visitors to fund education advanced in the Senate today. Hawaii Public Radio.

Only investment homes valued at $2 million or more would be subject to a property tax surcharge earmarked for public schools under revisions legislators made Tuesday to a controversial tax proposal drafted by the teachers union. Star-Advertiser.

A bill to authorize Airbnb to collect state taxes from both legal and illegal vacation rentals when accepting bookings in Hawaii won tentative approval from the House Finance Committee on Tuesday after Gov. David Ige’s staff intervened to ask lawmakers to keep the measure alive. Star-Advertiser.

One day after the state health department ordered Meadow Gold Dairies to discontinue its distribution of 2% milk due to high levels of the bacteria, Hawaii locavores are pushing for more options, including the sale of raw milk. Hawaii News Now.

Legislation that would allow terminally ill Hawaii adults to receive medication to end their own lives is heading to the floor of the state Senate. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's Congressional Delegation Reacts to President's First Address. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin says he asked President Donald Trump to explain a ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. Associated Press.

Almost four years after Hawaii lawmakers approved a bill to assure safe sleep practices at day cares, the Department of Human Services has adopted regulations requiring infants to be placed on their backs while napping and prohibiting soft bedding and bumpers thought to pose a hazard for sudden infant death syndrome. Civil Beat.

An online system for parents to keep track of their child’s school lunch account is finally being rolled out. KHON2.

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. sold 451 condominiums and 611 acres of vacant land last year, but the cost to shut down Hawaii’s last sugar cane plantation pulled company earnings into negative territory for 2016. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu-based Alexander & Baldwin reported net income of $300,000, or 1 cent per diluted share, for the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $14 million, or 29 cents per diluted share, from 2015’s comparable period. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

A threatening phone call that led to the closing and evacuation of the preschool at Hawaii’s largest synagogue Monday has been added to a larger probe involving threats against 20 Jewish schools and community centers across the mainland the same day and some 100 hate crimes against Jewish institutions since the beginning of 2017, officials said Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Parents of children at an Ewa Beach day care where a toddler nearly died in an apparent assault were not informed about the incident, contrary to a recommendation from a panel of child abuse experts that reviewed the case. Civil Beat.

Three grieving mothers are pushing state lawmakers for changes to help prevent day care deaths. Hawaii News Now.

Parents: Baby sitter’s police ties stalled son’s abuse case. Associated Press.

Catholic Charities Housing Development Corp. has completed the first phase of its senior affordable rental housing development in Mililani Mauka, and has begun the second phase of the project. Pacific Business News.

Monsignor John Mbinda issued a double blessing Tuesday for a kupuna housing project’s first phase opening and second phase starting construction in Mililani Mauka where rent for residents is as low as $565 a month. Star-Advertiser.

Tuesday was Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha’s last official day on the job. KHON2.

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha did not return to his office on Tuesday, his final day as the leader of the city's police force. Hawaii News Now.

Two Oahu residents have been charged in separate cases alleging theft of state accounts totaling more than $750,000. Star-Advertiser.

A Japanese wholesale food company that makes the Spam musubi sold at 7-Eleven stores in Hawaii has purchased Japan-based Fujifilm Corp.’s Hawaii regional office in Central Oahu, effectively ending the photography and imaging giant’s longtime run in the state, Pacific Business News has learned.

Hawaii

Hawaii County’s credit rating rose two notches Friday, when Fitch Ratings upgraded the county from AA- to AA+. West Hawaii Today.

Kahaluu Beach Park has been closed until further notice following the discharge of less than 100 gallons of wastewater onto the beach and beach waters, according to the state Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch. West Hawaii Today.

An upper-level disturbance is bringing some unsettled weather to the Hawaiian islands, including the potential for heavy snow and ice at Big Island summits. Hawaii News Now.

United Airlines will begin daily summer service between Denver, Colorado, and Kona starting in June. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Visitor arrivals on Maui increased 1.5 percent in January 2017 year-over-year, but a shorter length of stay resulted in no growth in visitor days. Maui Now.

Malassada Tuesday. Maui News.

Kauai

Volunteers wage fight against mangrove, threat to Hawaii’s economy, environment. Garden Island.

Learn how to benefit from state and federal landowner-assistance programs that support private forest-restoration efforts in a landowners’ forestry workshop on Saturday, March 11, hosted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Garden Island.

Jim Mayfield wants to switch Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s focus to pursuing an expansion of utility services, namely telecommunications and Wi-Fi. Garden Island.