Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hawaii Legislature looks at decriminalizing marijuana, hospital privatization mulled, UH cuts NEA ties, Waikiki beach smoking ban advances, Ellison expanding Island Air, Singapore buys Maui's Grand Wailea resort, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

hemp field in France
Hawaii Rep. Cynthia Thielen in hemp field in France, courtesy photo Hawaii House Republicans

State senators are drafting a bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana but would impose a stiff fine on those caught with the drug. Star-Advertiser.

Senate Moves On Civil Violation For Pakalolo. Civil Beat.

Hawaii House and Senate judiciary committees are moving forward bills to decriminalize marijuana, curb child prostitution and reform state elections. Associated Press.

New House Leadership Accuses Calvin Say Of Last Ditch Power Grab. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are aiming to increase voter turnout through a bill that would allow residents to register to vote on Election Day. Star-Advertiser.

House Bill 1481 would set up a comprehensive public funding program of candidates for state senator and state representative. Money would be appropriated to fund the program beginning in the 2016 elections. Civil Beat.

Bills paving the way for a turnover of the state’s public hospitals on Maui and Hawaii Island to a private nonprofit were sponsored six months after one particular nonprofit, Banner Health, began talking to Hawaii Health Systems Corp. about the possibility. The Senate version of the bill would apparently allow HHSC to contract with Banner without putting the multimillion-dollar transaction out for competitive bids. West Hawaii Today.

Banner Health, a Phoenix-based nonprofit operating 23 owned and leased hospitals in seven states, has set its sights on Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

The University of Hawaii's faculty union has voted to end its affiliation with the National Education Association, despite serious concerns from some members. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii teachers say they were shocked and angered to hear Gov. Neil Abercrombie tell a group of the nation's governors that the state may again impose a labor contract on teachers if a 2013-15 deal isn't reached. Star-Advertiser.

Local Media Shy Away From Critical Reporting On Military. Civil Beat.

Part 3 of 5: Even before Hawaii Circuit Court Judge John Lim unequivocally championed the public interest in police disciplinary actions and ruled against the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, SHOPO had a Plan B — get the Legislature to do what the courts would not. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s most visited attractions, including the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, Haleakala National Park on Maui and other national wonders, could feel the pinch if sequestration goes through. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for February 27. Associated Press.

A bill barring smoking at major beaches in Waikiki, Ala Moana and East Hono­lulu and at Kapiolani Park is now poised for a final vote of the City Council after being approved by the Council's Public Safety and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

A bill making it harder for people to keep tents and other items on Oahu sidewalks was given preliminary approval Tuesday by the City Council's Public Safety and Economic Development Committee. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council today advanced a bill that would allow the immediate removal of personal property or other items from city sidewalks. Hawaii Public Radio.

Seven months after they started spinning, the Kahuku wind mills stopped because of a fire. The fact that they're sitting idle is having an ripple effect that reaches your electric bill. KHON2.

Some state lawmakers and many viewers are questioning the University of Hawaii and its decision to spend $260,000 on another study to look into the Stevie Wonder blunder concert last year. Hawaii News Now.

The Korean church behind an ambitious plan to launch a farm and kim chee factory in Wai­anae that will be largely staffed by homeless people has lots of obstacles yet to overcome but is kicking off a fundraising effort to help push things along. Star-Advertiser.

For half a dozen former Kipapa Elementary School students, room P-10 was a little class of horrors. Hawaii New Now has learned that the families of six disabled students have now come forward with allegations of abuse by staffers at this Mililani School. Hawaii News Now.


Should the Banyan Drive resort area be transferred to Hawaii County? The state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee will consider that question today when it takes up a bill that would make the county the landlord for the nine hotel properties. Tribune-Herald.

Bids for the proposed Laaloa Avenue extension came in significantly lower than expected, Public Works Director Warren Lee said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Sen. Josh Green says the Department of Transportation will start working on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening project in June, unless Native Hawaiians who previously objected to the expansion path file a lawsuit. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County citizens voted for a new county prosecutor for the first time in 20 years last November. The new prosecutor has been on the job for nearly three months now. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park could take a sizable hit to its operations if Congress allows across-the-board, 5 percent budget cuts to go into effect at multiple government agencies on Friday. Tribune-Herald.


A chicken got into a Maui Electric Co. transformer in the rental car area at Kahului Airport on Tuesday afternoon, causing a power outage at the airport that left some passengers having to disembark their planes the old way -- by mobile stairway. Maui News.

Farmers, ranchers and private landowners are worried that they could face more government regulations, see their businesses hurt and even be sued if their properties are included in federal proposed critical habitats for threatened and endangered species in Maui County. Maui News.

A bankruptcy judge in New York approved a plan last week to sell the Grand Wailea and three other U.S. luxury resorts to a Singaporean government investment fund, according to court documents. Maui News.

The state Department of Health licensed Hale Makua last week to be an adult residential care home. Maui News.


The Kaua‘i Planning Commission approved the consolidation of two large lots where the Hanalei Plantation Resort is being proposed to be developed. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the first of three Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative 2013 Board of Directors candidate forums today from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kaua‘i Community College, Office of Continuing Education and Training Building, Room 106. Garden Island.

A group of thieves broke into the vacant Coco Palms Resort in Wailua Beach Saturday night, making off with four solid koa wood doors from the Queen’s Auditorium Hall. Garden Island.


Billionaire Larry Ellison now owns an airline to go along with his island. Local carrier Island Air confirmed Tuesday that Ellison, who bought 97 percent of Lanai in June, has completed a deal to buy the company, ending weeks of speculation that the country's third-richest man was going to further entrench himself in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Larry Ellison, the billionaire owner of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, bought the Hawaii interisland airline Island Air on Tuesday for an undisclosed price. Pacific Business News.

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