Thursday, July 13, 2017

Honolulu council passes pedestrian cellphone ban, Maui reverses 24 hour liquor sales, audit dings state invasive species branch, anti-abortion group sues over new law, Tropical Storm Fernanda churns in Pacific, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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A bill that would bar pedestrians from looking at their cellphones or other electronic mobile devices while crossing the street won final approval from the Honolulu City Council Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would fine pedestrians who use mobile electronic devices while crossing the street passed its third reading Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

The state Agriculture Department’s Plant Quarantine Branch is not blocking invasive pests from entering Hawaii as well as it could because its “failed database” doesn’t target the most imminent threats, a state audit released Wednesday said. he audit also described the Agriculture Department’s Plants and Animals Declaration Forms filled out by people arriving in Hawaii as of “limited value.” Few people declare such items and even fewer are intercepted. Star-Advertiser.

A national anti-abortion religious organization is suing to block a new state law that requires family planning and pregnancy care centers to inform women of all of their options, including contraception and abortion, and that such services may be available to them for free or at low cost through state programs. Star-Advertiser.

Faith-based pregnancy centers in Hawaii are challenging a new state law in federal court, claiming it forces them to promote abortion. Hawaii News Now.

Saying the intervention by the U.S. District Court is urgently needed, the state of Hawaii on Wednesday filed its reply in response to the Trump administration’s arguments regarding the scope of its partial travel and refugee bans allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Star-Advertiser.

Cybersecurity Experts Exchange Tricks Of The Trade In Honolulu. Political motives are driving hackers these days along with more sophisticated financial scams. Civil Beat.

The state officially launched a multi-governmental initiative today to address drug abuse prevention in Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

State officials plan to distribute 20,000 opioid overdose rescue kits to health care providers, emergency personnel, pharmacists and social workers in response to a growing substance abuse “crisis” in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

AT&T has received a 10-year contract from the Defense Information Systems Agency to replace its Hawaii network. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii Department of Health says it is investigating its second death linked to vibriosis, an infection cause by bacteria found in the ocean. KITV.

Tropical Storm Fernanda in the Eastern Pacific is expected to grow into a major hurricane over the next several days as it heads toward the Central Pacific, forecasters said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Tropical Storm Fernanda forecast to become hurricane as it churns in East Pacific. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell likely will sign a bill passed by the City Council that would bar supermarkets and other retailers from distributing plastic and compostable bags at the checkout counter beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the mayor said late Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council has authorized $350 million in city-backed bonds to keep existing rail work going — a shot of political support for the beleaguered transit project as the Legislature looks to bail it out later this summer. Star-Advertiser.

After listening to more than an hour of testimony, the Honolulu City Council voted Wednesday to approve the issuing of $350 million in general obligation bonds to help pay for building the Honolulu rail project. Civil Beat.

Owners of historic homes on Oahu would see their property taxes increase to $1,000 under a measure that cleared another hurdle at the City Council Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Can Revamped Honolulu Ethics Commission Rebuild Its Credibility? The commission’s former executive director often tangled with Mayor Caldwell’s administration. Now new director Jan Yamane has big plans for change. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office has declined to pursue criminal charges against the Pacific Resource Partnership Political Action Committee or its chairman for allegedly failing to report some of its campaign expenditures made during the vicious 2012 campaign for Honolulu mayor. Star-Advertiser.

Residents who search daily for parking on congested streets in their neighborhoods may find relief with a measure being considered by the Honolulu City Council. Bill 51, which would allow the city to create “residential parking zones,” cleared another hurdle Wednesday when the council unanimously passed it on second reading. Civil Beat.

A new law requires the City and County of Honolulu to take over any and all roads that don’t have a clear owner. House Bill 115 became law Wednesday without the governor’s signature. KHON2.

East Oahu fresh water spring permanently protected. KITV.

Some critics say the Navy isn’t moving fast enough to comply with an 18-month-old agreement to upgrade the underground fuel system at Red Hill. Civil Beat.

Government and private sector representatives put their heads together over cafeteria tables on Wednesday to talk about ways to make Iwilei and Kapalama safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Star-Advertiser.

The City and County of Honolulu is holding a public workshop on Thursday night to share plans and gather input on renovating Blaisdell Center. Hawaii News Now.

Approximately 350 suppliers and vendors are showcasing their products and services at the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality and Foodservice Expo to local individuals in the hospitality and food industry on Wednesday and Thursday at the Neal Blaisdell Center. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Island

University of Hawaii at Hilo Chancellor Don Straney is moving on. UH announced Wednesday Straney will be leaving his chancellor post Aug. 1 to serve as vice president of academic planning and policy, a leadership role within the UH system. Tribune-Herald.

The Old Kona Airport Park will be closed for two days in August to facilitate park cleanup efforts, county officials announced Wednesday. No camping in the park will be allowed after the park cleanup and police enforcement of park rules, which has ratcheted up in recent months, will be more stringent moving forward. West Hawaii Today.

In Hawai'i County, the annual Point in Time Count showed a reduction in homeless individuals from last year to this year of about a third. But that still leaves nearly a thousand unsheltered people on the island by the official count. Hawaii Public Radio.

In its latest cost analysis submitted to state regulators, Hawaii Electric Light Co. says Hu Honua Bioenergy would save customers cash in the long run. That’s assuming the Hamakua Energy Partners facility, which HELCO recently failed to acquire, closes in 2030 at the end of its contract. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island residents had a chance to talk with officials on Wednesday about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps during a public meeting held in Hilo. Big Island Video News.

Only one County Council member, Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung, reported receiving any gifts in the past 12 months. West Hawaii Today.

Tucked between Buster Brown and Puu Ki on Kohala Mountain sit two working reservoirs that support approximately 4,000 service connections in Waimea, Ahualoa, upper portions of Kalopa, Pohakea and Waiemi subdivision above Kawaihae. West Hawaii Today.

Louis Sardis, a 65-year-old driver for The Arc of Hilo accused of sexually assaulting a mentally and physically disabled woman July 30 aboard one of the nonprofit organization’s service vans, is currently suspended from his job. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The Maui County Liquor Control Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to reverse itself and to restore the 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. blackout on retail sales of alcohol and the 12 hostess bar cap, bowing to the public outcry and a lawsuit filed over its decision five months ago. Maui News.

Officials with Maui nonprofit groups received some relief Wednesday from strict new procedures for single-event liquor licenses, including extensive background checks and fingerprinting, that were putting a crimp on their fundraising efforts. Maui News.

Median single-family home prices in Maui County hit $700,000 or more for the third time this year in June when the midpoint price at which homes sold was $740,000, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Realtors Association of Maui. Maui News.

Kauai

Another meeting has been set to bring the public up to speed on the Lehua Island rat eradication project, which is set to begin in August, pending permit approval. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council approved two bills Wednesday containing collective bargaining agreements for government employees. Garden Island.

Eirik Stevens pleads no contest. A man who police say sexually assaulted two underage girls while volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club will no longer go to trial. Garden Island.