Monday, April 10, 2017

Lifeguard liability, high deductibles, gay fertility treatment mulled in Legislature, pot tax axed, Kaiser Permanente seeks Maui health-care workers, Kim unveils Maun Kea park plan, historic Ewa Battlefield trashed, more news from all the Hawaiian Island

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Old lifeguard stand at Richardson Ocean Park © 2017 All Hawaii News
Counties Threaten To Pull Lifeguards Over Fear Of Lawsuits. The Legislature is debating whether to extend limited liability protections for lifeguards over the objections of a group of personal injury lawyers. Civil Beat.

Pot tax, car value tax, axed. Judging from the growing list of dead or dying bills, the 2017 session of the state Legislature is shaping up to be a relatively cautious, low-risk round of lawmaking. Star-Advertiser.

Members of Hawaii’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are lobbying for equal access to the fertility treatment married, heterosexual couples enjoy under state law. Associated Press.

Hawaii employers may soon be allowed to offer workers high-deductible plans that critics say are financially risky health insurance plans that can result in families paying thousands of dollars out of pocket in any given year for medical care. Star-Advertiser.

A bill granting state agents access to private property to eradicate invasive species is headed for a floor vote in the Senate. Star-Advertiser.

A bill moving through the state Legislature aims to shake loose money frozen in a $150 million failed renewable-energy loan program and use it to offer rebates of up to $10,000 to residents who buy battery systems for their homes. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: Is it possible that this is year the Legislature does mail-in ballots, something that has nearly universal support from both voters and government officials? Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui’s announced intention to leave his post to run for Maui mayor — possibly before his term ends — exposes a flaw in the way our state government is structured at the top. Star-Advertiser.

A new national ranking of the best-run airports has good news for Maui, bad news for Honolulu. Hawaii Public Radio.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, will hold town hall meetings across the state in April. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii officials are looking to their counterparts in Puerto Rico for advice as they seek to rebound from December’s aborted alala release, when three of the native Hawaiian crows perished in the first week of freedom — two apparently picked off by the io, or Hawaiian hawk, and another that weakened after getting caught in a winter storm, according to necropsies. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Below the H-1 viaduct Wednesday morning, a kiawe-fueled fire burned below thousands of commuters — a daily event that has some Oahu lawmakers concerned about the possibility of a disaster under Honolulu’s highways and bridges. Star-Advertiser.

Should Honolulu’s New Police Chief Be An Insider Or An Outsider? The police union leader is pushing for someone already in the ranks. But others, including law enforcement experts, say new blood might be the best. Civil Beat.

Honolulu's chief medical examiner is asking city officials for more financial support as his office struggles to deal with a heavy workload. Associated Press.

Passengers traveling through Honolulu International Airport these days must put up with barriers and diversions, from construction barriers to closed walkways and orange construction signs everywhere, as the state of Hawaii's $1.3 billion upgrade of the airport drags on. Pacific Business News.

Bill would limit liability for volunteers maintaining dilapidated Pearl City cemetery. KHON2.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled a case with the Navy involving illegal cesspools at Pearl Harbor. Star-Advertiser.

Historic Ewa Battlefield becomes target of trash dumping. KITV.

Hawaii Island

Mayor Harry Kim on Saturday continued to promote his vision of a Mauna Kea “World Park,” announcing that Gov. David Ige has lent his support to the mayor’s vision for the mountain and that he is “pursuing how this can be done.” West Hawaii Today.

A debate over how Hawaii County Council members should use their discretionary money could be renewed as Mayor Harry Kim proposes to cut the expenditures in the next budget. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Council members say their discretionary funds provide quick aid to nonprofit groups that provide services in their districts. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County has released sewage spill data in the aftermath of last Monday’s discharge into the Wailuku River and Hilo Bay, and a state microbiologist says the results are reassuring. Tribune-Herald.

As plans to upgrade the Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant continue to materialize, so to do plans to develop a large regional park in the area. West Hawaii Today.

Hawai'i State Attorney General Doug Chin got a hero's welcome to North Hawaii, where he gave a 40 minute talk on his legal efforts to block the president's executive order. Big Island Video News.

An ironweed plant that grows wild on Hawaii island may offer new ways to combat deadly brain and breast cancers, and a University of Hawaii Cancer Center biologist has received $3 million in federal funds to study it further. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

Plenty of jobs need to be filled at Maui County’s three public hospitals, and Kaiser Permanente officials are encouraging residents not to wait until the state facilities become private July 1. Maui News.

Kaiser Permanente officials are encouraging Maui residents to apply for jobs at three public hospitals on the island as they scramble to fill positions before the state facilities become private this summer. Associated Press.

While the shortage of doctors statewide has improved, it grew worse on the Neighbor Islands in 2016, including Maui County, according to a University of Hawaii report to the state Legislature. Maui News.

Alexander & Baldwin is close to formalizing a partnership with a seed oil producing company on a 250-acre demonstration project to produce biofuels from the pongamia tree on old sugar fields with planting possibly to begin in mid-May. Maui News.

The County of Maui’s Kepaniwai Park at ʻĪao reopens Monday, according to a Parks Department announcement. Maui Now.

The county’s Kepaniwai Park in Iao Valley, which has been closed since the raging Wailuku River flooded the park and tore away a piece of the parking lot Sept. 13, will reopen Monday. Maui News.

A rescue tube initiative that started on the island of Kauaʻi in 2009 is now making its way to Maui as advocates combat alarming statistics surrounding ocean deaths in island waters. Maui Now.

Kauai

A coqui frog, a little problem with loud consequences was captured at a Lihue residence Monday, most likely a stowaway in a car recently bought from Hawaii Island. Garden Island.