Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Neighbor Island budgets in the balance as state lawmakers dicker over rail, land lease bill killed, Legislature passes budget, Oahu hepatitis scare, Punahou president retiring, Maui to oust homeless from beach, Marines agree to cut back Upolu airport use, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy University of Hawaii
Mauna Kea timelapse, courtesy University of Hawaii
The Hawaii Senate killed a bill Tuesday that would have allowed the state to lease land in perpetuity. House Bill 1469 raised alarm on social media Tuesday and among environmental organizations who feared it would allow the state to give away public land, particularly conservation land on Mauna Kea for the purpose of building telescopes. Civil Beat.

The state Legislature passed dozens of bills Tuesday, including measures that would decriminalize drug paraphernalia and limit prescriptions for painkillers. Lawmakers also tackled cost-of-living issues, agreeing this year to tax the rich at higher rates in order to give a tax break to low- and middle-income workers. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers voted Tuesday to spend $28 billion during the next two years in a budget that includes money for homelessness programs, improving school buildings and fighting rat lungworm disease. Associated Press.

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State House and Senate lawmakers extended their fierce disagreement today over how to bail out the financially strapped Honolulu rail project, with senators proposing to extend the half-percent excise tax surcharge for rail for another decade, and the House rejecting that idea. Star-Advertiser.

The House and Senate remain at a standoff on how to pay for rescuing Honolulu’s troubled rail project, with the two chambers passing competing tax proposals Tuesday. Civil Beat.

The State Senate and House today each advanced separate measures to fund Honolulu’s Rail Transit System. Hawaii Public Radio.

Rail tax in turmoil: Senate, House pass dueling bills. KITV.

Two days before the legislative session is set to end, a solution to fund Honolulu’s rail project is still up in the air. KHON2.

The tussle for Transient Accommodations Tax allocation is continuing. Garden Island.

Mayor Kim: Property Tax Increase Will be Necessary, Due To Rail. Big Island Video News.

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All Hawaii private homeowners, businesses and organizations with cesspools would have to stop using them by 2050, according to a bill passed Tuesday by the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

A quarterly report from the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority, the state agency tasked with overseeing the program, shows the multiple attempts made over the first three months of 2017 to lend funds have failed or are still pending. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii won’t start to get a previously announced 2,700 Marines from Okinawa, Japan, until 2027 in a move that is expected to cost $1.3 billion to $2.5 billion for infrastructure (in 2012 dollars), with training ranges a particular concern, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently said. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s public schools chief told parents in a letter Tuesday the state has “serious concerns” about a popular new Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why.” Tribune-Herald.

As a new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” grows in popularity, mental health professionals and schools across the country, including in Hawaii, are warning parents about the messages the show may be sending. Hawaii News Now.

For the second year in a row, Hawaiian Airlines topped the $100 million mark in fees for checked bags, canceled reservations and flight changes, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Star-Advertiser.

Island Air, which has been expanding under new ownership, ended 2016 with its 15th straight quarterly loss as it began its change to larger, more efficient aircraft. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

A city proposal could give back Oahu retailers the ability to use any type of plastic bag again, with a consumer fee. Hawaii News Now.

A Honolulu City Council committee Tuesday deferred action on a bill that would prohibit pedestrians from viewing mobile electronic devices while crossing a street or highway, after concerns were raised that the measure’s language might be too vague. Star-Advertiser.

The Legislature’s struggle to agree on a rail tax plan isn’t the only fiscal uncertainty facing Honolulu Hale, where officials also await word on negotiations for a new police contract. Civil Beat.

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Imported frozen raw tuna or ahi cubes distributed by Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC is being recalled after it tested positive for hepatitis A, the state Department of Health said today. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Department of Health announced Tuesday that frozen ahi cubes distributed to a dozen grocery stores and food establishments on Oahu have tested positive for hepatitis A. Civil Beat.

Hawaii health officials say frozen raw tuna or ahi cubes sold at a dozen grocery stores and eateries on Oahu is being recalled after it tested positive for hepatitis A. Associated Press.

The state Department of Health is advising caution for Oahu residents who have recently eaten poke or ahi from a series of local stores and restaurants. Hawaii Public Radio.

Ahi poke sold at a dozen grocery stores and eateries on Oahu may have been contaminated with Hepatitis A, the state Health Department announced Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Imported frozen ahi cubes caused a health scare at several Oahu food establishments after it tested positive for Hepatitis A. KITV.

The Hawaii State Department of Health has been notified of imported frozen raw tuna or ahi cubes distributed by Tropic Fish Hawaii, LLC on Oahu that tested positive for hepatitis A. KHON2.

Hepatitis A vaccination shots will be offered at the Hawaii State Capitol to state employees Wednesday in wake of the recent voluntary recall of ahi tuna cubes that were used to prepare ahi at businesses across Oahu. KHON2.

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Construction costs in Honolulu were the second-highest in the nation during the first quarter, but Hawaii’s largest city had the smallest annual increase in costs among 12 cities monitored by Rider Levett Bucknall for its first quarter construction cost report. Pacific Business News.

WCCC inmates convert shipping containers to homes for final college project. Hawaii News Now.

Punahou School’s longtime president, James Scott, announced today he plans to retire from the private school at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

A bill to give the County Council more oversight of the administration’s temporary hires was unanimously endorsed Tuesday by the council Finance Committee. West Hawaii Today.

The Marine Corps has agreed to cut back its use of Upolu Airport on Hawaii island after residents complained about hundreds of tilt-rotor Osprey and helicopter operations there. Star-Advertiser.

In a media release issued today, the Hawaii Center for Food Safety announced they are joining with Kupale Ookala to take Big Island Dairy to court for allegedly polluting the waters around the Hāmākua coast village. Big Island Video News.

The Waiaka Bridge replacement project could be back on. Lawmakers approved a two-year state budget Tuesday that includes $6 million for planning and land acquisition. Tribune-Herald.

International Pacific Research Center researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa are predicting the permanent end of snowfalls on Big Island summits by 2100. Tribune-Herald.

An estate within the Big Island of Hawaii's Mauna Kea Resort, which is currently listed at $6.85 million, will be auctioned next month by New York-based Concierge Auctions. Pacific Business News.

Maui

The homeless community living at Baldwin Beach Park has until May 23 to vacate the area, according to a notice posted in the park Tuesday morning. Maui News.

The Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee finalized a proposed $704.8 million county budget for fiscal 2018, which includes saving the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course, increasing trash collection fees and dedicating funds to road resurfacing. Maui News.

Pacific Biodiesel has begun preparations for its first sunflower harvest this month and has purchased a combine harvester, which was delivered Thursday. Maui News.

The Kaupo Community Association, with support of the Jonathan Starr Foundation, Hawaiian Airlines and state Sen. J. Kalani English, gave away 680 Victor M210 rattraps at the East Maui Taro Festival at the Hana Ball Park on Saturday. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai gets $167.5 million in CIP funds. Garden Island.

A hub aiming to grow the island’s creative-technology market has received a $100,000 grant from the federal government. Garden Island.

Humane society turns 65. Garden Island.