Thursday, March 1, 2018

Vacation rental tax loss creates $33M hole in budget, visitor spending hits new record, assisted suicide bill advances in House, 'monster home' moratorium passes Honolulu council, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Airbnb Revenue Loss Leaves a $33M Hole in Executive Budget. State lawmakers are tallying spending bills to balance the budget. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii tourism kicked off the new year with solid gains in visitor arrivals and spending, which rose to the highest statewide total for visitor spending ever recorded for a single month in Hawaii’s history. Star-Advertiser.

Visitor spending increased 4.9 percent to $1.69 billion in January, the highest statewide monthly total on record, according to preliminary statistics released Wednesday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Pacific Business News.

Independent airport authority bill passes Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing with amendments. Senate Bill 2996, which would transfer the operations of Hawaii’s 15 airports from the Hawaii Department of Transportation to an independent agency dedicated to managing and improving Hawaii’s airports, now moves to the House. Pacific Business News.

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Medical Aid In Dying Bill Takes Major Step Forward In Hawaii Legislature. The measure cleared a joint committee after additional safeguards were added. It now heads to a vote of the full House. Civil Beat.

The House Judiciary and Health and Human Services Committees passed the "Our Care Our Choice Bill" Wednesday. KITV.

Two key state House committees voted today to advance a controversial measure that would allow terminally ill patients to request prescriptions for lethal doses of medication. Star-Advertiser.

Two key House committees approved a controversial medical aid-in-dying measure Wednesday, paving the way for the bill to go to a full House vote. Hawaii News Now.

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Hawaii Tourism Authority faces $30M budget cut after 'abusive' spending. Hawaii News Now.

A public hearing Wednesday on a state audit that found the Hawaii Tourism Authority suffered from “lax oversight (and) deficient internal controls” turned into a debate about whether the state’s record-setting tourism performance should override concerns about how the marketing agency operates. Star-Advertiser.

14 years after audit blasted Public Utilities Commission, new report finds not much has changed. Hawaii News Now.

Auditor: PUC Isn’t Keeping its Eye On ‘Big-Picture Matters’. The Public Utilities Commission staff is overloaded and lacks the proper tools and guidance, according to a state report. Civil Beat.

U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa introduced a bill that could give floriculture research in Hawaii a boost. The State Assistance for Tropical Floriculture Research Act of 2018 would allow states to seek grants of at least $250,000 per year to research and develop disease-resistant varieties of tropical flowers. Tribune-Herald.

Tax Dollars May Get Tapped To Fly Homeless Out Of Hawaii. Privately financed relocation programs have already flown hundreds back to the mainland. Now there’s a move afoot to spend public money as well. Civil Beat.

A major construction delay at Halawa Correctional Facility will keep hundreds of Hawaii inmates on the mainland, and cost millions of our tax dollars. KHON2.

Homebuyers in Honolulu have the highest mortgage debt-to-income ratio in the nation, while homebuyers on Maui have a ratio that’s third-highest in the U.S., topped only by San Jose in California’s Silicon Valley, according to a report by the personal finance company SmartAsset. Pacific Business News.

There’s still plenty of opakapaka in Hawaii’s waters, according to a recently released federal assessment of Hawaii’s Deep 7 bottomfish stock. Garden Island.

The State’s monthly test of the Statewide Outdoor Warning Siren System, coordinated with the test of the Live Audio Broadcast segment of the Emergency Alert System, is scheduled for today, Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 11:45 a.m. Maui Now.

Oahu

Moratorium on ‘monster homes’ gets Council approval. After months of discussion, the Honolulu City Council approved a bill on Wednesday that imposes a moratorium on larger-scale houses in residential districts on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

City council passes bill to stop ‘monster homes’ by unanimous vote. KHON2.

Two measures aimed at giving breaks on taxes and fees to high-rise property owners in exchange for installing automated sprinkler systems in their buildings won final approval from the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

A 41-story residential tower, which drew criticism for its so-called poor door, won final approval by the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday after the developer did away with separate entrances for homeowners and renters. Star-Advertiser.

Coming Soon To Ala Moana: Another 400-Foot Tower. After it nixed its “poor door” entrance, the ProsPac Tower developer gains zoning exemptions from the City Council. Civil Beat.

Rail inches closer to completion as vital operating system is activated. Hawaii News Now.

Former Queen's nurse awarded $3.8 million in racial discrimination suit. It's one of the largest damage awards in state history. Hawaii News Now.

Former Queen's Medical Center nurse, Ellen Harris was awarded more than $3.8 million in damages by a circuit court jury, on Wednesday. KITV.

Project Hiehie Oahu's first mobile shower for the homeless debuted this week. KITV.

The City Council unanimously approved Wednesday a $1 million payment to settle a lawsuit with a Kahala woman who sued the city for injuries she sustained when a coconut tree struck her in 2012 at a Waikiki park. Star-Advertiser.

Pali Lanes supporters rallying to save the Kailua bowling alley delivered a petition with more than 5,000 signatures to the headquarters of property owner Alexander &Baldwin on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Bill would require 4-wheel drive to enter Waipio, ascend Maunakea. Tribune-Herald.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is considering a Conservation District Use Application for the proposed Infrastructure Improvements at Maunakea Visitor Information Station. Big Island Video News.

Environmental officials are bracing for local repercussions from a U.S. appeals court ruling that Maui County violated the federal Clean Water Act in handling its treated wastewater. West Hawaii Today.

2 concepts create funding potential for Hawaii Island homeless initiative. West Hawaii Today.

Royal Hawaiian Orchards LP, Hawaii’s largest macadamia farm plans to exit the business of producing and selling packaged retail snacks by selling to a competitor after a six-year effort that failed to become a bigger profit generator. Star-Advertiser.

Acquisition combines Hawaii's 2 largest macadamia nut growers. Hilo-based macadamia nut producer Royal Hawaiian Orchards is selling its brands and macadamia nut snack products business to Buderim Group, the Australian parent of rival macadamia nut producer MacFarms LLC, in a deal that will create the largest retail marketer of branded macadamia nuts in the United States. Pacific Business News.

Maui

New $3-per-visit landfill fees generating $32,500 monthly. People making fewer visits but leaving same amount of trash. Maui News.

A council committee voted Wednesday in favor of allowing Honuaula Partners to build some or all of 250 affordable housing units within its 670-acre, master-planned community south of Maui Meadows. Maui News.

Mayor delivers his final State of the County. Arakawa shows he has no shortage of goals in his last year. Maui News.

Skyline Hawaii announced it has removed more than one ton of rubbish from Maui beaches since December 2017. The clean-up efforts are part of an on-going company campaign to address marine debris called Wipe Out Plastic. Maui Now.

EnSync Energy to deliver over $450K in cost savings to Maui nonprofit incubator space. Pacific Business News.

Kauai

Council Chair Mel Rapozo told state transportation officials Wednesday a decision has to be made about the Hanalei Bridge, because it’s inadequate to meet rising traffic demands on the North Shore. Garden Island.

Program targets drug houses. Because Kauai is a small community, Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said it’s easy to know where the drug houses are, but it’s equally as difficult to build a case against a drug trafficking ring. Garden Island.

Ground broken for Koloa mixed-use project. Starting from Koloa Road across the Koloa post office, Koloa Village is scheduled to be completed in two phases. Garden Island.

Kauai sees record January visitor arrivals, spending. Garden Island.