Friday, January 31, 2014

Hawaii tourism peaks, lobbyists hard to track, lawmakers tackle minimum wage, invasive pests, police oversight, trail liability, more top political and government news from the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii pool party (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
Hawaii's visitor industry set records for visitor spending and arrivals in 2013 despite a leveling off of growth in the second half of the year. Nearly 8.24 million travelers came to Hawaii in 2013, surpassing the 2012 record of nearly 8.03 million visitors by 2.6 percent, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Visitor expenditures rose to $14.5 billion, a 2 percent gain over 2012. When adjusted for inflation, total visitor expenditures in 2013 still set a record but rose by only 0.3 percent. Star-Advertiser.

It's been months since same-sex marriage became legal in Hawaii, but taxpayers still don't know how much money supporters or opponents spent to influence the decision. Lobbyists are supposed disclose how much money they're spending to influence lawmakers, but critics say the state disclosure system is among the weakest in the nation and prevents a timely and complete tally. Associated Press.

Is it fair that minimum-wage workers in the most expensive state in the nation earn only $7.25 an hour? To put it in perspective, an employee who works 40 hours per week, earns just $290 — before the tax bite. Monthly, that averages out to a little more than $1,200 — again, before taxes. So it isn't entirely surprising that the minimum wage issue is among the big questions facing Hawaii legislators this year. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers want to swat down a pair of invasive pests: the coffee berry borer and the little fire ant. Despite their quaint names, the insects pose considerable threats to Hawaii's fragile environment. House lawmakers are proposing to spend $3 million next year to control coffee berry borers, up from $250,000 last year. Lawmakers also want to put more than $306,000 into a pilot project to study the threat and possible eradication of little fire ants. Associated Press.

Massage therapists, boxing promoters, doctors and lawyers all have to be licensed to work in Hawaii. So too do private detectives and security guards. But Hawaii’s police officers, whether they’re patrolling the streets of Waikiki or tracking down poachers on the Big Island, do not. Civil Beat.

SB 1007 would expand current law to further protect the state from liability in the case of accidents or injuries on public lands or on “voluntary trails” created by hikers and climbers. Largely ignored by the media, this bill certainly was on the radar of Hawaii's hiking and rock climbing communities. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii's presidential selection committee will forgo hiring an outside search firm but will move ahead with its own national search — a process that committee members say they want to complete within a year. Star-Advertiser.

Major changes, including a new name and management approach, could be on the horizon for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, according to an internal draft management plan obtained by The Garden Island.


A city leasing program is coming under fire — and some increased scrutiny — after a concessionaire with contracts at two major parks was recently arrested in an alleged real estate scheme. Questions about how the program screens its applicants and manages its multimillion-dollar assets began surfacing this month with the arrest of 38-year-old Sakara Blackwell, president of Optimum Marketing and Management Corp., the company that holds long-term city contracts to run the Barefoot Beach Cafe at Kapiolani Park and the concession stand at the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Beach Park. Star-Advertiser.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rare coral found off Hawaii, judge strikes gay marriage challenge, police misconduct kept secret, health exchange to get cheaper, GOP wants people power, Kauai passes cat license bill, 100 testify on Maui GMO bill, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Department of Land and Natural Resources photo
Rare coral, courtesy Hawaii DLNR
A state research team has discovered a coral species that's new to the main Hawaiian islands. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Wednesday that a team of divers along the Kona coast came across a large number of coral colonies they had never seen before. Associated Press.

DLNR image
DLNR coral image
A research team with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources discovered off the South Kona Coast a species of coral new to the main Hawaiian Islands. Tribune-Herald.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it removed nearly 1 million pounds of decades-old shipwreck debris from two remote national wildlife refuges in the Pacific. The agency said Wednesday the removal is the first phase of coral reef restoration work at Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuges. Associated Press.

A state House committee deferred a series of bills backed by Niihau residents to sustain fishing and other marine life for future generations. The Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs plans to submit a short-form bill relating to ocean resources to provide funding to the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Chairwoman Rep. Faye Hanohano said the state agency needs money to study coastal resources statewide. Star-Advertiser.

Between 500 and 800 lanternfish and squid were found dead or dying in the Nawiliwili Harbor area on Monday, prompting in investigation by state and federal officials into what caused the die-off. Star-Advertiser.

A state Circuit Court judge on Wednesday sided with the state and threw out a House lawmaker's legal challenge to gay marriage. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii is the only state without any form of referendum, recall and initiative on a statewide level, so House and Senate Republican leaders are asking the public to rally behind legislation they’ve jointly introduced to change that. But will they get enough backing from the public to sway the state’s majority Democratic party, which holds all but one Senate seat and seven House seats in the 76 member body? Hawaii Reporter.

The cost of running Hawaii’s health insurance marketplace is likely to fall below its original projection of $15 million annually because of low enrollment, its executive director told lawmakers Wednesday. Associated Press.

As high-profile deliberations over whether there should be publicly funded preschool resume, some Hawaii educators and parents are growing frustrated with the limited attention that policymakers are giving to imminent changes to the state’s kindergarten age requirement. The changes are expected to shake up the entire public school system and leave thousands of families without a place for their children to study. Civil Beat.

Hawaii had one of the lowest rates of home “flips” in the United States in 2013, according to figures released by RealtyTrac. A “flip” is when someone buys a home and sells it in six months or less. Pacific Business News.


On Sept. 23, 2011, Honolulu police officer James Easley was fired after a woman accused him of raping her on the hood of his patrol car. Easley's case illustrates how difficult it is for the public to check on police misconduct and whether police officials are effectively addressing it, including removing bad cops from the street. But some lawmakers hope to change that situation. They have submitted companion bills in the House and Senate that would require more detailed disclosure of police disciplinary records, although the bills maintain an exemption in Hawaii's public records law that protects cops from having to reveal details of most disciplinary actions. All other public employees are required by law to disclose information relating to suspensions and terminations. Civil Beat.

The state Attorney General’s office is asking for $1 million from the Legislature to pay for past and ongoing lawsuits and to investigate Matson for last September’s destructive molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor. Attorney General David Louie and First Deputy Attorney General Russell Suzuki submitted testimony to House Finance Committee on Wednesday afternoon, estimating that the total cost of “extraordinary litigation” in the next year and a half could exceed $3 million. Civil Beat.

Attorneys for a Virginia boy with cerebral palsy say his family and the Honolulu military hospital where he was born reached a tentative $9 million settlement. The amount, put on the record in federal court in Honolulu on Monday, is subject to final approval by the U.S. Department of Justice, said Loretta Sheehan, one of the family’s attorneys. Associated Press.

There were more employers competing for a shrinking pool of job seekers Tuesday at the state's largest job fair. The 161 companies and government agencies that manned booths at the Job Quest job fair was up from 150 that turned out for the same event a year ago. The job fair drew 3,400 job seekers, down from 3,500 in January 2013. Star-Advertiser.

Condominium towers could sprout in Kakaako just makai of Ala Moana Boulevard if a bill sought by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs is approved by the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

As has often been the case, there was a surge of hope when General Motors officials arrived in Honolulu in December 2010 to announce a partnership with The Gas Co. — now known as Hawaii Gas — that would "make hydrogen available to all of Oahu's one million residents by 2015." As part of the plan, as many as 25 hydrogen fueling stations would be built on Oahu to support as many as 10,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Civil Beat.


Development of a public shooting range at Puuanahulu has slowed while organizers work out noise concerns with some of the neighbors. West Hawaii Today.

The winch for lifting boats at Mahukona in North Kohala has been out-of-service since being damaged by high surf in December, forcing some boaters to find alternate locations from which to launch their vessels. West Hawaii Today.

Nearly 100 people testified before a Maui County Council Committee on Tuesday on a hot topic bill to regulate pesticide and genetically modified organisms. Maui News.

Maui County Council Member Riki Hokama, the current first vice president of the National Association of Counties, is in line to become the group's president in the summer, a news release from NACo said. Maui News.

Haleakala National Park is implementing a plan to cut back on the number of commercial visitors that aims to ensure preservation of the resources at the park, Maui’s most popular attraction. Associated Press.

The governor announced the release today of $500,000 in funds for land acquisition at Līpoa Point on Maui. Maui Now.

Cultural practitioners working to restore and preserve traditional Hawaiian fishponds don't simply need to wrestle heavy rocks into place in waist-deep water. First, government agencies have them navigate a bureaucratic maze of permits and regulations. Maui News.


Cat owners on Kauai would be required to get a license for their pet under a new program passed by the Kauai County Council. The Council voted 4-2 Wednesday to pass Bill 2517 to establish a cat licensing program to help tackle the overpopulation of free-roaming cats on the island. The measure will be sent to the mayor's office for consideration. Star-Advertiser.

The Kauai County Council approved a bill that will require pet owners to license their cats and set up spaying and neutering requirements for cats allowed to roam outside. The 4-2 vote was made during the seven-member board’s Wednesday meeting. Garden Island.

A slew of House bills aimed at prohibiting outsiders from fishing and harvesting opihi around the island of Niihau died in committee Wednesday. However, the discussion will continue. Garden Island.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Monsanto reaches out; Maui ponders GMO limits; guns up, gun crimes down; House committee wants more oversight over UH repairs; Kauai may get dairy; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy drawing
Monsanto courtesy chart
The GMO debate is considered one of the most controversial and confusing issues facing our state. Supporters say the technology behind genetically modified organisms is feeding the world at a time when the population keeps exploding and space to farm is getting scarcer.  Opponents say it poses health and environmental risks – the full scope of which is unknown, because its application is too new. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii firearms registrations have increased 72% since 2000 – but gun-related violence has dropped. Hawaii Independent.

At Hawaii Legislature, Access Equals Privilege. At the start of every annual session of the Legislature, lawmakers are invited to meals, drinks, talks and other activities sponsored by groups with business at the Capitol. Civil Beat.

Legislator jousts with U.S. high court over political spending. House Bill 1499 is state Rep. Karl Rhoads' symbolic response to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the landmark 2010 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which held that corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections as long as the spending is not coordinated with political candidates. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie capitalized on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday to emphasize his proposals to raise the state’s minimum wage and expand access to early childhood education. Civil Beat.

State House Higher Education Chairman Isaac Choy says legislators would be putting the University of Hawaii "on steroids" to help eliminate its massive repair backlog under a bill that advanced out of his committee Tuesday, over the objections of UH officials. Star-Advertiser.

Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple surprised members of the UH Manoa faculty senate earlier this month when he told them a plan to quell public controversy surrounding the director of the UH Cancer Center by restructuring its administration is a temporary solution to “calm the waters.” Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state education leaders pledged their commitment today to significantly boost the number of adults earning college degrees in the islands over the next decade. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is set to make his third appointment to the Hawaii Supreme Court, making him the first governor in about two decades to select a majority of the five-member court. Associated Press.

How to Get High in Hawaii Without Breaking the Law. Civil Beat.

A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Wednesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.


First Wind, which has focused on wind-energy projects in Hawaii, is diving into solar energy with its first plans to build three separate major solar farms totaling 82 megawatts in Central Oahu, the chairman of the neighborhood board where the projects will be located, told Pacific Business News.

A report commissioned by Castle & Cooke, which has plans to build a major wind energy farm on Lanai, has identified three potential wind resource areas on Oahu and six other areas on Maui that would total 813 megawatts of capacity. Pacific Business News.


Placing liens against property when water or sewer bills are overdue, and shutting off water service for past-due sewer bills were two collection avenues discussed Tuesday by the county Water Board. West Hawaii Today.

A new electronic vehicle inspection system aimed at reducing fraud, errors and time spent on manually processing Hawaii licensed drivers’ data has made the procedure easier on the state and inspection stations, but some residents say it’s costing Big Island drivers time and money. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County officials, employees and residents celebrated the completion of a long-awaited repair project in Captain Cook. The renovated Yano Hall at Greenwell Park was rededicated Tuesday morning with speeches, prayer, music, food and pride. West Hawaii Today.


A bill that seeks to implement disclosure and use restrictions on pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms in Maui County was introduced before the Council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee today. Maui Now.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is requesting two additional personnel within the Department of Agriculture to conduct pesticide inspections and alien species screening for Maui County. Maui Now.

The owner of the Pagoda Hotel, a popular and affordable rooming spot for many Mauians visiting Oahu for many years, plans to bring the brand to Maui with the prospective purchase of the Maui Beach Hotel. Maui News.

In an effort to promote open dialogue and greater understanding of its farming practices and products, Monsanto Hawaii said Monday that it is increasing its farm tours, holding community meetings and forums and having programs to promote a better understanding of the company. Maui News.


A dairy farm could be operating on Kauai next year. Jim Garmatz, manager for Hawaii Dairy Farms, said their conservation plans have been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. They are waiting approval and permits from the Department of Health. Garden Island.

Officials with the Kauai Department of Water came out Monday in hopes of discussing the cost-savings analysis report for the Kahili Horizontal Directional Drilled Well Project. Garden Island.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Supreme Court nominees named, GMO labeling bill advances, Monsanto ups Hawaii PR, airport screens for flu, school AC bill dies, unemployment at 4.5%, new buses for Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii Supreme Court (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
The Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission has selected six nominees for a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. The commission says Gov. Neil Abercrombie will draw from the list to appoint the judge who will replace retiring Associate Justice Simeon Acoba Jr. The nominees announced Monday were selected from 16 applicants. They are: Derrick Chan, Jeffrey Crabtree, Craig Nakamura, Richard Perkins, John Tonaki and Michael Wilson. Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie must now name Hawaii's next associate justice on the Hawaii Supreme Court from a list of candidates that includes four state judges, the state public defender and a private attorney. The state Judicial Selection Commission submitted the names Monday to fill the vacancy on the court when Associate Justice Simeon Acoba leaves late next month because of the state Constitution's mandatory retirement provision at age 70 for judges and justices. Star-Advertiser.

A GMO labeling bill passed the state Senate Health Committee on Monday evening but faces a tortuous path to get through the rest of the chamber. The bill would establish labeling requirements, starting in January 2015, on any food sold in Hawaii that contains or was produced with genetically engineered material. Star-Advertiser.

If Monday’s Senate Health Committee Hearing on a bill to require labels on genetically engineered food is any indication, the debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Hawaii’s legislative session this year will be emotional. Monday’s hearing was the first time this session that lawmakers took up the GMO issue. The committee approved the bill, Senate Bill 2736, which would require labeling on all food that has genetically engineered material effective on Jan. 1 next year. Civil Beat.

A major seed company in Hawaii wants to improve its relationship with the community after two counties took a stand to regulate pesticide use and growth of genetically modified organisms. Monsanto Hawaii launched a new Web page,, as a tool to inform the public about its agricultural practices. Community forums and more farm tours are also planned to respond to concerns, according to Vice President Fred Perlak. Star-Advertiser.

In a decision that strongly reaffirms beaches as a public trust resource, the Hawaii Supreme Court  has ruled the state must consider historical evidence when determining the shoreline. The opinion, released Monday morning, also reiterates the high court's 2006 ruling that vegetation may not be planted to manipulate the shoreline, which becomes the starting line for a building setback. Kauai Eclectic

An ambitious proposal that would have mandated air-conditioning in all public schools within the next five years was shelved Monday by a state Senate committee, which instead opted to have the Department of Education study the issue and come up with a strategy. Star-Advertiser.

A group of lawmakers wants to increase the state dental board’s regulation of dentists in Hawaii by clamping down on the ones who misrepresent themselves as certified specialists and legally requiring board approval of dentists who administer anesthesia and various types of sedation. Civil Beat.

Understanding Hawaii’s early-education initiative. Investing in our keiki through effective early-ed programs will save the state money in the long run, if the governor's proposal finds support in the legislature. The question is the overall quality of the program.  Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii Senator Wants to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Drunk Cops. Civil Beat.

Minors, incarcerated criminals and illegal immigrants are represented in the 2012 Hawaii Reapportionment Plan. Military members and their “attached” spouses, as well as non-resident students, are not. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling, issued Jan. 21 in Kostick v. Nago, affirmed the constitutionality of the Reapportionment Plan, issued in 2012. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in December, compared to 5.1 percent during the same month in 2012, the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations said Monday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii's seasonally unemployment rate edged up to 4.5 percent in December from 4.4 percent in November, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Monday. Despite the increase, the report painted an overall positive picture of Hawaii's job market. Star-Advertiser.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: Jan. 28. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Tuesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.


Hawaii lawmakers are responding to last year’s molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor by suggesting any fines or settlements the state collects for ocean spills be put toward restoring coral reefs. Associated Press.

A group of state legislators called Monday for several molasses spill-related fixes to Hawaii law. Their proposals come as the public continues to wait for more details on what caused last fall's devastating leak of the thick substance into Honolulu Harbor — and the full scope of the damage it wreaked on the marine life there. Star-Advertiser.

The latest arrest of a Halawa prison guard for alleged drug smuggling is renewing new calls for reforms. And one of the biggest advocates is the head of the prison system himself. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu airport has a program to screen and swab any passengers who appear to have the flu but they depend on the airlines to report it to them. KHON2.

Honolulu city councilwoman Ann Kobayashi has introduced a bill that would allow city officials to remove nuisances on a person's property, outside of a home. KITV4.


State and county officials are working with the federal government to get a five-year exemption from meeting security standards at Kona International Airport in order to reopen an international inspection facility that’s been closed since 2010. West Hawaii Today.

East Hawaii drivers might get a taste of Honolulu-style traffic beginning in March as a lengthy road reconstruction project reduces a stretch of Kamehameha Avenue from four lanes to two. The $13 million project will run from Ponahawai Street to near the Wailoa River bridge on one of Hawaii County’s busiest corridors. Tribune-Herald.


The state Department of Transportation has completed a draft environmental assessment for a nearly $3.2 million project to protect the shoreline and Kahului Beach Road from eroding into the ocean. Maui News.

The Maui County Department of Transportation hosted a dedication ceremony today for the addition of 10 new buses to the Maui fleet. County Transportation Director Jo Anne Johnson Winer said the buses cost a total of $4.8 million and were acquired with 20% county funds, and 80% federal funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s competitive Administration’s competitive State of Good Repair grant. Maui Now.


Lawmakers in both the Hawaii Senate and House are pushing for legislation that would prohibit outsiders from fishing around “The Forbidden Island” of Niihau. Kauai legislators, however, aren’t taking the bait. Garden Island.

A Maui-based attorney is challenging Kauai County’s attempt to obtain free legal services. The procurement protest, filed Monday by Lance D. Collins of Wailuku, alleges the county’s solicitation to defend Ordinance 960 in federal court, regarding pesticides and genetically modified organisms, includes unethical legal practices and violates state and county laws. Garden Island.

The state Department of Health and Kauai County are seeking public feedback on a plan for the expansion and continued operation of Kekaha landfill. Officials will hold a public meeting on the proposal Thursday evening at the Waimea Neighborhood Center. Comments may also be sent by mail to the landfill office, Kauai County's solid waste division and the department's solid waste branch. Associated Press.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hawaii may score America's Cup, Legislature mulls gay conversion therapy, tax relief for farmers, university may hire local president, Dog the Bounty Hunter wants more laws, Schatz supports minimum wage hike, Kauai residents to pay fee to opt out of smart meter, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

America's Cup 2013 courtesy photo
The CEO of Larry Ellison's America's Cup champion Oracle Team USA says officials are talking with other venues, including Hawaii, about hosting the 2017 America's Cup because San Francisco isn't offering the same terms it had for last year's sailing races. Pacific Business News.

The next America’s Cup could be sailed off a Hawaiian beach, on San Diego Bay or in some other port instead of returning to a San Francisco Bay course bordered by the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Associated Press.

State lawmakers will hear testimony Monday on a bill that would define "conversion therapy" as a form of child abuse. HB 1789 would ban the act of "conversion therapy" on minors. Hawaii News Now.

A bill making its way through the Hawaii Legislature seeks to provide a small measure of relief for livestock producers by exempting transportation costs for milk, poultry and other meats from the state’s general excise tax. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island Rep. Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Pahala, Honoapu, Volcano) is calling for stronger protections for Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers by introducing a bill to strengthen Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii lawmakers have proposed a number of bills this year aimed at making sure Hawaii is better prepared to deal with a toxic spill in the wake of the September molasses leak at Honolulu Harbor that killed thousands of fish and devastated coral reefs. Civil Beat.

Dog the Bounty Hunter, America’s best-known bounty hunter says it’s time for Hawaii to start regulating bounty hunters. Tribune-Herald.

Are you Filipino? The Hawaii Legislature has a caucus for you. Do you like spaceships? There's an AeroSpace Caucus, formed just this year. Support island agriculture? Check out the Local Food Caucus, another new hui. When it comes to getting certain types of legislation passed, caucuses are often the way to go. They allow lawmakers to work closely with like-minded colleagues, build support for issues of importance to them and raise the profile of their bills above the several thousand measures introduced each year. Civil Beat.

Schatz, Hanabusa
Deeper divide shown as Schatz, Hanabusa split on budget deal. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa — rivals in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate — cast different votes. Schatz voted with the majority, including every Senate Democrat. Hanabusa was one of just 32 Democrats in the House to vote against the deal. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz is giving his support to a package of proposals that includes a significant raise to the minimum wage. Schatz is one of 29 co-sponsors of the minimum wage bill, introduced in November. Tribune-Herald.

Longline fishing boat owners said they expect to lose millions of dollars in tuna catches in the central and western Pacific under an agreement in which the United States will reduce its longline tuna catch for three years starting in 2015. Star-Advertiser.

The search for the next University of Hawaii president, now into its seventh month, is shifting to focus on finding a local candidate and possibly forgoing the hiring of an outside search firm. And that candidate could be interim President David Lassner. Star-Advertiser.

Tom Yamachika was named interim president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii at a special board of directors meeting Jan. 16. The board acted quickly to name a successor to Lowell Kalapa, the long-time voice of the foundation, following Kalapa’s death in late December. Associated Press.


Hawaii Sen. Clayton Hee is advocating for a new law that would create a park by Laniakea Beach on Oahu’s North Shore in an effort to address coastal erosion and get the state to move faster on long-held plans to fix traffic problems by the beach. The proposal is one of two bills that the influential lawmaker introduced last week in response to destructive waves wearing away beaches the North Shore. The second bill sets aside money for University of Hawaii scientists to create a beach management plan to mitigate coastal erosion in the area. Civil Beat.

Authorities have arrested an adult corrections officer at Halawa Correctional Facility in connection with a continuing investigation on methamphetamine dealing at the prison. Hawaii News Now.

Concerns about child harassment and a hostile work environment at a private college-preparatory school in Kapolei are alarming parents, driving away teachers and raising questions about the consequences of letting private schools in Hawaii regulate themselves. Civil Beat.


More than $13 million is headed for the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority to construct a new frontage road and intersections, upgrade a seawater pipeline and renovate administrative offices. West Hawaii Today.

The president of the Drug Policy Action Group told about 75 people at a “talk story” session about medical marijuana on Sunday that it is “a very exciting time to be involved with” marijuana activism. Tribune-Herald.


Gene Simmons and friend
Looking every bit the rock stars that they are, all dark shades, tight jeans and pursed lips, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of Kiss welcomed county officials and other well-wishers Sunday to an event celebrating their soon-to-open Rock & Brews restaurant. Star-Advertiser.

A surge in shark attacks on Maui during the past year, including two fatal ones, hasn’t stopped people from surfing and swimming in the warm ocean waters that surround the island. But it spurred sales of devices that claim to keep sharks away by emitting an electric pulse. Associated Press.

The Maui County Council gave initial approval for the county to pay a penalty of $70,000 for alleged violations at the Central Maui and Molokai landfills in 2011. Maui News.

The state Department of Transportation has completed a draft environmental assessment for a nearly $3.2 million project to protect the shoreline and Kahului Beach Road from eroding into the ocean. Maui News.

The Maui County Council gave initial approval Friday to various bills, including one to keep county pools open during holidays and another to set building height limits in hotel districts. Maui News.


The board’s decision stands. Members of Kauai Island Utility Cooperative voted to keep a fee structure in place that charges only members who opt out of using a smart meter. Garden Island.

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative voted to keep fees that are charged to customers who don't want to use the company's wireless smart meter to measure their energy usage. Star-Advertiser.

The Kauai County Council is reconsidering a measure that may change the tasks for a specialized group charged with framing a study on pesticides and genetically modified organisms on Kauai. That measure, passed on the heels of Bill 2491, sets forth guidelines for a group of at least 12 people to lay the groundwork for an Environmental and Public Health Impacts Study. Garden Island.

Last year, 77,500 tons of trash were disposed of at the county’s Kekaha landfill. And that’s a problem. That landfill is near capacity and will eventually have to be closed. The best way to extend its life is to reduce the amount of waste, an average of 210 tons a day, being delivered there. The county of Kauai has a plan. Garden Island.

Friday, January 24, 2014

GMO battle moves to Hawaii Legislature, tax breaks for the dead, lawmaker promotes Hawaii marijuana brands, Gore to speak, breastfeeding moms could skip jury duty, Honolulu affordable housing plan falls through, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

University of Hawaii research
GMO corn research in Hawaii, courtesy photo
 The fight over genetically engineered crops is spilling over onto the floor of the Hawaii State Capitol. On Thursday, state lawmakers filed a bill that would prohibit counties from restricting farming practices, including the use of genetically modified organisms, seen as a response to GMO-related laws Hawaii and Kauai counties adopted last year. Tribune-Herald.

Two state lawmakers want to strengthen Hawaii's Right to Farm Act by preventing counties from restricting agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices that are allowed under federal and state law. The bill was prompted by a Kauai County law that regulates genetically modified organisms and pesticide use and a Hawaii County law that bans new GMO crops. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Rep. Richard Onishi from the Big Island has introduced a bill that would give Hawaii’s 2001 Right to Farm Act more teeth. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island House of Representative Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Pahala, Honoapu, Volcano) is calling for stronger protections for Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers by introducing a bill to strengthen Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act. Hawaii Reporter.

She promised she hasn’t inhaled, but House Majority Floor Leader Rida Cabanilla said she hopes to legalize cultivation, manufacturing and exporting of Marijuana and Marijuana food products in Hawaii to pay off the state’s billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities as well as make infrastructure repairs and fund public education and human services programs. Hawaii Reporter.

Imagine a day when Maui Wowie and Kona Gold are legitimate marijuana brands sold around the world, when Hawaii factories create legal products such as Maui Wowie cookies, cannabis-infused ice cream and marijuana macadamia nut chocolate candies. That day might not be far off if state Rep. Rida Caba­nilla (D, Ewa Beach-West Loch Estates) has her way. The lawmaker has introduced a bill that would lead to a plan to legalize cultivation of marijuana in Hawaii for sale and export to countries where usage is lawful. Star-Advertiser.

The state House of Representatives has introduced a package of bills aimed at improving operations of the Hawaii Health Connector, including one that would move the nonprofit organization under state control, House lawmakers said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Leaders of two key committees in the Hawaii House say they plan to introduce a package of bills to help fix the state’s troubled health care exchange. The online insurance marketplace under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul has had numerous problems, including a late start to open enrollment and few sign-ups. Associated Press.

Republican leaders in the Hawaii House say they're hopeful their package of bills proposing everything from voter referendums to limits on fee increases will be heard in a chamber dominated by Democrats. Associated Press.

A Hawaii House committee plans to debate a bill that would exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty. The bill is part of a package of measures from the Women's Legislative Caucus, a group of women who are lawmakers in the Senate and House. Hawaii News Now.

They are on the front lines protecting children against predators online.  But, here and elsewhere nationwide, those teams battling back child porn are often sorely underfunded and ill-equipped. KITV4.

Former Vice President Al Gore will visit Oahu in April to give a free public lecture on climate change as well as energy and water matters, University of Hawaii officials and Sen. Brian Schatz' office announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

An employee can collect workers' compensation for exposure to vog that aggravates an asthma condition, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The Department of Education and the Labor Industrial Relations Appeals Board both denied a claim by Lynedon Van Ness. But in a 51-page unanimous ruling, the high court held that worsening of the 54-year-old man's asthma from the volcanic smog was related to his employment. Star-Advertiser.

In August, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration  renamed one its facilities in Alaska that’s designed to warn large swaths of the coastal U.S. about impending tsunamis. The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center would from then on be known as the National Tsunami Warning Center. The name change caused some angst within the ranks of NOAA, particularly for those who worked in the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. Not only were there initial concerns about operations, but there was also worry that Hawaii’s center might not get as much funding anymore. Civil Beat.

The old saying that “land is power” is still relevant today, and is particularly true out here in the middle of the Pacific, where Hawai`i represents one of the smallest US states by land area. Here’s a brief look at how land is distributed across the main Hawaiian islands, and how it is used. Big Island Now.


A $142 million deal to sell Honolulu’s public housing projects to a private developer collapsed Thursday, leaving gaping holes in the city’s budget and potentially submarining Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s ambitious plan to get some of the most chronic homeless off the streets. Civil Beat.

It’s a blow to a key Caldwell initiative, but it may be good for affordable housing. The city’s planned sale of its affordable housing properties has failed. Hawaii Independent.

The state has hired a mainland law firm to handle millions of dollars in environmental legal claims against Matson for last fall's massive molasses spill. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii House Majority Leader Scott Saiki has followed through on his promise to scrutinize the Hawaii Community Development Authority, introducing eight legislative measures that range from curbing the authority of the agency to getting rid of it altogether.  The state organization which manages development in Kakaako and Kalaeloa has been harshly criticized in recent months for approving a slew of new projects last year in Honolulu’s urban core. Civil Beat.

Glenn Martinez spent two days burying the hundreds of tilapia and koi that lived in a pond on his Wai­ma­nalo farm after the fish —worth thousands of dollars — mysteriously died Wednesday in one hour. Star-Advertiser.

It may not be the most pleasing to the eye, but sand bags strapped over large tarps equaled success at keeping scarce sand up against North Shore homes. KHON2.

Mall site blessed despite lack of lease. Construction on the first phase of the 1.4 million-square-foot regional mall Ka Makana Ali' in East Kapolei isn't slated to start until late this year. Star-Advertiser.

When Ben Franklin said, “nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes,” he apparently wasn’t talking about Hawaii County. A comparison of property owners claiming the county homeowner’s exemption against vital statistics from the state Department of Health has discovered 1,200 deceased people benefiting from the exemption, some for as long as 10 years. That’s according to county Real Property Tax Administrator Stan Sitko. West Hawaii Today.

A Big Island charter school principal says bullying is a growing concern on campus, but not among students or teachers. Connections Public Charter School principal John Thatcher said the Hawaii State Ethics Commission and its executive director, Les Kondo, have been so aggressive in their years-long investigation into a conflict-of-interest case that it amounts to bullying. Civil Beat.

Hualalai Academy will close its doors to students in all grade levels at the end of this school year. West Hawaii Today.


Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa announced he will deliver his 2014 State of the County Address on Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 5 to 6 p.m. in the McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Maui Now.

Faced with a tight deadline, Maui County Council members wrestled well into Wednesday evening with a number of issues arising from the proposed 203-home Kahoma Village fast-track affordable housing project in Lahaina. Maui News.

Eight prosecutors from Mongolia are on Maui to learn about the U.S. judicial system and observe 2nd Circuit Court proceedings, as their country looks toward judicial reform. Maui News.


Plans for the nearly 3,000 acres of Kauai agricultural land recently purchased by Tennessee billionaire Brad Kelley, one of the largest private landowners in the United States, call for keeping it predominately the way it is, the president of Kelley’s real estate holding and development company told Pacific Business News.

Green bulbs, shielded lights and a “common-sense,” turn-them-off approach. These are some of the tools Pacific Missile Range Facility is using in its continued effort to protect Kauai’s native and threatened seabirds. Garden Island.

The Department of Parks and Recreation invites the public to a meeting to discuss the restoration and future use of the Hanalei Courthouse facility. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Hale Halawai Ohana o Hanalei Community Center, 5-5299 Kuhio Highway. Garden Island.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hawaii to consider statewide beach smoking ban, Tusli's re-election video, Hilo judge sides with DLNR in fencing lawsuit, homeless bill of rights, Herding cats: Kauai's licensing bill, public-private hospital bill aims to heal ailing centers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Waikiki (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
House lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban smoking at all of the state's public beaches. Laws banning smoking at nearly 300 parks and roughly 4,000 bus stops around Oahu took effect on Jan. 1. Hawaii County parks, beaches and recreational facilities have been smoke-free since 2008, supporters of a ban said at a hearing Wednesday at the state Capitol. Star-Advertiser.

A ban on smoking on all public beaches in Hawaiʻi will be considered at a joint hearing before two House committees today. Maui Now.

More than 40 percent of workers compensation claims filed by employees at the state mental health hospital in Kaneohe in recent years involved assaults on staff members, a top state official told a legislative committee on Wednesday. Yet hospital administrators did little, if anything, to stop the attacks on state employees, staff members say. Civil Beat.

State Rep. John Mizuno has introduced a bill to create a "Homeless Person's Bill of Rights." Star-Advertiser.

Republican leaders in the Hawaii House say they’re hopeful their package of bills proposing everything from voter referendums to limits on fee increases will be heard in a chamber dominated by Democrats. Associated Press.

The leadership battles among Hawaii House Democrats have been well-publicized, culminating in Joe Souki taking back his speakership from Calvin Say a year ago. Much less has been said about power struggles among the seven Republican representatives. And yet, right smack in the middle of the fall special session on same-sex marriage legislation, broadcast live for all the state to see, Bob McDermott attempted a coup. Civil Beat.

Discussion of private nonprofit organizations partnering with the state public hospital system is likely to take center stage among health care concerns this Legislative session, according to state Sen. Josh Green, chairman of the Senate Health Committee. Tribune-Herald.

While the governor's call to bring home more Hawaii convicts from the mainland is a positive step, it does little to fix the root problems with Hawaii's prison system. Hawaii Independent.

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
(c) 2014 All Hawaii News
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's campaign distributed a new re-election video on Wednesday. The spot clocks in at just under three minutes, and it's exactly the kind of message we've come to expect from Gabbard: Poised, ambitious, and savvy. Civil Beat.

The installation of solar photovoltaic panels across areas served by the Hawaiian Electric Companies rose last year at the slowest rate since 2010, the utility reported Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.


Two Honolulu City Council members seeking to add sparklers and fountains to the list of permitted fireworks on special holidays say they are hoping a new law can be in place by Dec. 31, if not by Independence Day. Star-Advertiser.

Former state Rep. Marilyn Lee will take out nomination papers on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, for the seat she previously held. Lee had served as a representative for Mililani Town, Mililani Mauka and Waipio Acres for 16 years. Hawaii Reporter.

San Francisco-based Coastwood Capital Group LLC, a partner in the International Market Place redevelopment, confirmed Wednesday that it has bought the leasehold interest in the adjacent Waikiki Trade Center for an undisclosed sum. Star-Advertiser.

An affordable rental housing nonprofit organization is honoring the late union and social activist Ah Quon McElrath with a plaque. Associated Press.

The 36th annual Pacific Telecommunications Council’s conference wrapped up on Wednesday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, and the conference’s 1,734 registered attendees are expected to make an $8.75 million economic impact in Hawaii, according to an estimate from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Pacific Business News.

Giant waves with 40 to 50 foot faces pounded north shore beaches on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.


A shroud of secrecy continues to surround the selection of a new legislative auditor, 13 months after the previous auditor resigned to take a job with the United Nations. The County Council ended an hourlong executive session Wednesday with no decision, following months of such sessions and a closed meeting Jan. 7 where it interviewed two applicants. West Hawaii Today.

A Hilo Circuit Court judge granted a summary judgment in favor of the state Wednesday in a legal challenge of the Ka‘u Forest Reserve Management Plan. The order effectively dismisses the lawsuit the Pele Defense Fund and four other plaintiffs filed in November 2012. The plan includes fencing 12,000 acres, about 20 percent of the reserve, for conservation. Tribune-Herald.


The Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee gave its approval Tuesday to various funding requests, including those to support raises for firefighters and other county employees, along with more funding for trash collection and landfill operations. Maui News.

Hawaii chefs and restaurant owners will help to decide the winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef” as guest judges on the two-episode season 11 finale, which was filmed on Maui in October. Pacific Business News.

An Oahu lawmaker is proposing to name the new Kihei high school in honor of the late Democratic Congresswoman Patsy Mink. Maui News.

A Brown Water advisory has been issued for Honokahua Bay on Maui. The Clean Water Branch is investigating the cause of the brown water. Hawaii News Now.


Purring along: Cat licensing law heads to council on Wednesday. Garden Island.

There was a lot more than cocktails and pupus on the minds of Kauai’s Chamber of Commerce Wednesday night as they mingled with visiting University of Hawaii Interim President Dr. David Lassner. Many of them were parents of children they want to attend college or adult children who weren’t able to complete their education. Garden Island.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Abercrombie touts accomplishments, pushes minimum wage hike, preschool, keiki and kupuna programs in annual State of the State address; undersea electric grid aired, Hawaii council rejects outright GMO ban, Kauai tsunami maps updated, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

2014 governors office courtesy photo
Abercrombie's 2014 State of the State courtesy photo
Gov. Neil Abercrombie declared Tuesday that the state now stands on solid financial ground and is entering a new phase in which investments in early childhood education, a minimum wage increase, land conservation and tax relief for seniors are possible. Closing the book on the recession, Abercrombie used his annual State of the State address to mark the state's economic turnaround. The governor said a record $844 million budget surplus provides the state with an opportunity to take action. Star-Advertiser.

The governor of Hawaii began his fourth State of the State address Tuesday asking lawmakers to "set aside our political preoccupations" and reflect instead on public service and the concerns of others. Yet, the major theme in Neil Abercrombie's speech was that the state has an $844 million budget surplus and that "hard choices," "tough decisions" and "fiscally prudent decisions" made it possible. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Tuesday that Hawaii’s solid financial position will allow lawmakers to focus on such initiatives as expanding funding for preschool, providing tax relief for seniors and increasing the minimum wage. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie used his State of the State address Tuesday to push for priorities that included tax relief for elderly residents, a minimum wage increase and state-funded preschool. The Democratic governor, during his fourth annual speech before lawmakers, also took time to tout the state’s recent accomplishments, notably concerning the state budget. Associated Press.

Governor Neil Abercrombie highlighted the state's $844 million surplus and pushed for tax breaks for seniors, along with raising the minimum wage during his fourth State of the State Address Tuesday morning at the State Capitol. Hawaii News Now.

In his fourth State of the State speech to a joint session of the legislature, Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed an increase to Hawaii's minimum wage, while also asking for support in setting aside more than 20,600 acres of land on the North Shore and Central Oahu. KITV4.

In his fourth State of the State address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie highlighted the economic turnaround, one of the reasons for the $844 million general fund surplus. KHON2.

"I realize this is an election year. Political agendas and ambitions are being formulated, but let us take children out of these equations," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. KITV4.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s 2014 State of the State speech on Tuesday was peppered with facts highlighting the progress that Hawaii has made under his administration. Given that it's an election year and Abercrombie is not shy about showcasing his accomplishments, Civil Beat decided to take a closer look to check whether the statements he made tell the full story. Civil Beat.

Text of the governor's State of the State speech.

Boost in Minimum Wage Is Only the First Step. Civil Beat.

A proposal to connect the electrical grids of Maui and Oahu with an undersea cable would save utility ratepayers on both islands an average of 6 cents a kilowatt hour over the life of the project by increasing the amount of renewable energy that could be tapped and allowing the two grids to operate more efficiently, a state officials said tonight at a state Public Utilities Commission meeting. Although the cable would cost an estimated $700 million to construct, it would result in a net savings to ratepayers of $423 million over the 30-year life of the project, state Energy Administrator Mark Glick said in a presentation at the meeting called by the PUC.  Star-Advertiser.

An undersea electrical cable between Maui and Oahu will save consumers more than $420 million over 30 years, a state official said. But critics said that consumers will bear most of the upfront costs. Hawaii News Now.

Castle & Cooke is not giving up its fight to build a wind farm on Lanai to power Oahu despite a plan to connect Maui and Oahu instead via an undersea cable. Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission held a hearing Tuesday evening at Farrington High School on Oahu to hear public comments on the Oahu-Maui connection, which would allow for the adoption of increasing amounts of renewable energy. Civil Beat.

Oahu revelers may be able to light sparklers and fountains on New Year's Eve and Independence Day under a new proposal expected to be unveiled by two Hono­lulu City Council members today. Council members Ikaika Anderson and Ann Koba­ya­shi plan to introduce a bill today allowing sparklers and fountains to join standard firecrackers as items that can be set off via permits. Star-Advertiser.

Results of laboratory tests on drinking water -- conducted after Navy officials found a possible jet fuel tank leak last week at Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility --are continuing to meet federal regulatory Safe Drinking Water and State of Hawaii standards, and the water's safe to drink, according to a Navy news release issued this afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

The owner of Ward Centers is preparing to open a public sales gallery soon for the first two of 22 planned condominium towers envisioned to transform 60 acres of Kaka­ako into a largely residential community called Ward Village. Star-Advertiser.


It was deja vu for the Hawaii County Council on Tuesday as it voted against a full ban on genetically modified crops while meeting in committee. The vote was the second time the council’s Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee had considered Councilwoman Brenda Ford’s bill. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Council members seemed at odds Tuesday on whether they’d rather have the state give the county back its share of the transient accommodations tax or allow it to raise general excise taxes. The discussion in the council Finance Committee ended with no vote, but it gave a glimpse into which council members preferred which mode of financing county operations. West Hawaii Today.

As chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment, state Rep. Mark Nakashima has already been hard at work crafting legislation to raise the minimum wage. So it’s no surprise that Nakashima, D-Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo, lists a 75-cent increase in the hourly wage over three years as one of his priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Nakashima said he hasn’t yet had an opportunity to review a proposal promised by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, but he said there will be minimum wage legislation heard in his committee this year. West Hawaii Today.


A Maui-based technology fund called mbloom LLC, the first early-stage fund of its kind in Hawaii, said Tuesday that it secured $10 million through a public-private partnership formed with Hawaii State Development Corp. and East Coast-based hedge fund Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission hosts a public meeting on Maui this week on the proposed Maui to Oʻahu Undersea Cable interisland transmission project to connect the electric grids on the two islands. The PUC is gathering input as part of its investigation to determine if the Oʻahu-Maui interisland transmission system, or grid-tie, is in the public interest. Maui Now.

Hawaii's C-minus grade on emergency care environment should not totally reflect on Maui County and Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is "always striving to improve" its services by investing in emergency preparedness, the hospital's top official said last week. Maui News.


Two local legislators gave good reviews to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s State of the State speech Tuesday. Garden Island.

County officials announced that Kaua‘i's tsunami evacuation zone maps have been updated, replacing the maps from the 1990s. The updated maps are based on the latest technology, which utilizes bathymetric/ocean-floor mapping and computer modeling done by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Hawaii News Now.

As Kauai considers new restrictions against dogs that bark too much, some residents worry the rules could fuel arguments between neighbors. Associated Press.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden has announced it is bringing together a host of top musicians from Hawaii with a Grammy-winning artist in celebration of the Garden’s 50th anniversary. Tickets to the Saturday, April 5 “Musical Legends in the Garden” are now on sale for the four-hour concert set in NTBG’s open-air Southshore Visitors Center in Poipu. Garden Island.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Hawaii reapportionment, Abercrombie's State of the State today, Hanabusa opens headquarters, former Maui mayor to run for state House, corruption crackdown at prison, Health Dept. refutes metals found in Hanalei Bay, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

undersea cable courtesy photo
State regulators are looking into whether an undersea power cable between Maui and Oahu would be in the public’s interest. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is inviting the public to comment on the cable at meetings today at Farrington High School in Honolulu and Thursday at Pomaikai Elementary School in Kahului. Associated Press.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Hawaii's reapportionment plan that leaves out some military personnel and students when calculating population and determining state legislative districts. The justices affirmed a lower court ruling without comment today. Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie will address the Legislature this morning in his fourth State of the State address, in which he is expected to tout Hawaii's economic recovery while setting the stage for his re-election bid this year. The speech, set to begin at 10 a.m. in the House chamber of the state Capitol, will likely include Abercrombie's proposal to raise the state's minimum wage and for state-funded preschools. Star-Advertiser.

Governor Neil Abercrombie will lay out his administration's focus for the next year during the State of the State Address Tuesday morning, and one of the key issues he's expected to touch on is Hawaii's rapidly growing elderly population. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii lawmakers last week started hearing bills to boost government transparency, improve elections and hold public officials more accountable. In the first week of the 2014 legislative session, one of the many so-called good-government bills has already cleared its final House committee and is headed to a final vote before all the reps. House Bill 1072 would make public the financial disclosure reports filed by the University of Hawaii Board of Regents. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers Seeking to Outlaw 'Conversion Therapy' in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

U.S. Senate candidate
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who's trailing her Senate Democratic primary opponent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz by 2-to-1 in fundraising, got some high-powered help Monday when she opened her campaign headquarters along Beretania Street in Chinatown. Hawaii News Now.

With the announcement Saturday of former state Sen. Russell Kokubun as Big Island campaign chairman, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa increased her Hawaii Island presence in a Democratic battle for U.S. Senate that has captured national attention. West Hawaii Today.

The recent death of a 3-year-old girl who went into a coma after visiting the dentist’s office raises questions about the regulation of children's dentistry in Hawaii and whether the state is doing enough to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future. Civil Beat.

Three Hawaii resorts on Maui and the Big Island and two restaurants in Honolulu have earned AAA Five Diamond ratings for 2014, while 20 hotels and resorts and eight restaurants have been given with the organization’s Four Diamond rating. Pacific Business News.

People talk about Hawaii as a racial melting pot but for many years club bigotry was common. Civil Beat.

Consumers who selected a health or dental plan through the Hawai'i Health Connector by Wednesday are reminded about upcoming premium payment deadlines for coverage that begins Feb. 1. Maui News.


The crack down on corruption at Halawa prison will likely mean more arrests. Hawaii News Now has learned that up to a dozen workers at the state's maximum security prison are being targeted. That comes on the heels of the recent arrest of prison guard James Sanders, who is accused of smuggling in crystal meth to prisoners.

North Shore residents affected by coastal erosion braced themselves Monday for what could be the largest ocean swell in a decade. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii tourism is expected to fly higher this year with the addition of scheduled nonstop service from Beijing to Honolulu. Air China, founded in 1988, brought its first group of 270 visitors, including top airline officials, travel agents and Chinese media, to Hawaii on Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The Army is studying a potential biofuel-capable power plant at Schofield Barracks. The public has an opportunity to provide input on alternatives, potential environmental impacts and other issues of concern that should be included in an environmental impact study. Public scoping meetings will be held Feb. 5 at Mililani Mauka Elementary School and Feb. 6 at Wahiawa District Park. Associated Press.

If you live on Oahu, you may not think it's that out of the ordinary. But Honolulu is the only county left in the state where you'll still see plastic bags used in grocery stores. An estimated tally finds 400 million plastic bags are used each year on the island of Oahu. KHON2.

Some city officials want to flip the "pave paradise, put up a parking lot" notion on its head by transforming on-street stalls into parks and plazas. Resolution 13-290, asking the Caldwell administration to establish a demonstration project for "parklets" around Oahu, was approved by the City Council's Transportation Committee on Thursday. The full Council will vote on it Jan. 29. Star-Advertiser.

The rhino beetle has surfaced on Oahu. They're ugly to look at, and what they do to palm trees is even uglier. KITV4.

A senior Pearl Harbor shipyard manager says he was falsely accused of espionage, taken off the job in March and has not been paid since July — even though an investigation cleared him of the "foreign influence" allegations. Gerald "Gino" Palermo, a former submariner who has worked in the shipyard since 1981, most recently in the "Code 930" mechanical group as a process manager, said he was cleared in June of allegations involving contact with several Chinese women and a Japanese female. Star-Advertiser.


A Hawaii House member from the Big Island is introducing five bills designed to keep hunting lands intact and promote the culture of hunting to children and others. Rep. Cindy Evans, North Kona and Kohala, said Friday that hunters should be recognized as conservationists who care about the land and wildlife. Associated Press.

It’s been a whirlwind first week for newly minted state Rep. Richard Creagan, who was appointed Jan. 10 to the District 5 post vacated by former state Rep. Denny Coffman. West Hawaii Today.

Drug reform in Hawaii will be the topic of two talk-story sessions on the Big Island. Hosted by the Drug Policy Action Group and Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii, the meetings are intended to highlight marijuana-related legislation before the state Legislature and take input on ways to improve the Aloha State’s medical marijuana program, according to the groups. Tribune-Herald.

It’s been several years since a group of more than 20 Waikoloa residents gathered in the home of state Rep. Cindy Evans to ask for a library, but plans for the community’s first library are finally under way for 2014. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi joined 280 of the nation’s mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 82nd Winter Meeting on Monday in Washington, D.C. Kenoi, chair of the Hawaii Conference of Mayors, will the meeting with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, and Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho. Tribune-Herald.


Longtime politician and former Maui County Mayor James "Kimo" Apana has announced his intent to run for the state House District 9 seat, which covers parts of Central Maui and is now occupied by political newcomer Justin Woodson. Maui News.

When the Hawaii Center of Independent Living shuttered all five of its Neighbor Island offices in July, Nani Watanabe, an independent living specialist working at the Wailuku office, thought, "Here we go again." Maui News.

Public input is being sought on a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the West Maui Community. The non-profit Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization, in collaboration with the West Maui Fire Task Force, is hosting a series of meetings this month to gather comments and suggestions. Maui Now.


The County of Kaua‘i Division of Purchasing has issued a professional services solicitation to procure pro bono legal representation in a lawsuit filed against the County relating to Ordinance 960, regulating pesticides and GMOs. Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaii Department of Health is refuting a study that reportedly found high levels of metals found in sediment samples in and around Hanalei Bay. Dr. Roger Brewer, a senior geologist with the DOH’s Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office, said there is no indication of any contamination in the samples. Garden Island.

Retired sugar industry executive and former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Donald Bruce Cata­luna has died at the age of 77, leaving a legacy of service beyond the plantation. Born in Koloa, Kauai, Cata­luna worked almost every job on the sugar plantation, from taking care of the pack mules to managing some of the largest plantations in the islands. He spent his career with C. Brewer & Co., becoming one of the industry's first part-Hawaiian plantation managers. Star-Advertiser.

A storyteller, public servant, family man and instructor whose mind was a trap for details. Friends and family reflected on the life of Donald Bruce Cataluna on Monday after the retired sugar industry executive and Kauai native died Saturday from natural causes. Garden Island.