Friday, February 14, 2014

Attacks on the Sunshine Law, marijuana legalization dies, hospital privatization nears, homeless bill of rights, rail car mockup unveiled, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Senate panels were of two minds on Thursday, killing a bill to legalize marijuana — "We felt Hawaii was not ready for legalization at this time," said Sen. Will Espero — pushing forward legislation that calls for a fine of just $100 for possession of an ounce of pakalolo. Arguments for and against decriminalization and legalization were on display Thursday, as supporters and opponents of reforming Hawaii's marijuana laws filled Conference Room 224 at the Capitol. Civil Beat.

A bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Hawaii died in committee Thursday. But state lawmakers advanced a measure that could decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of the drug. Associated Press.

A proposal rejected by the Hawaii County Council as unnecessarily weakening the Sunshine Law has made its way to the state Legislature, where it’s getting serious consideration. The bills, HB 2139 and SB 2962, were sponsored by state lawmakers from Maui after the Hawaii County Council struck the measure from a package the counties were sending jointly to the state Legislature under the Hawaii State Association of Counties umbrella. West Hawaii Today.

While opposed by open-government advocates, a Senate bill advanced in the state Legislature this week - with amendments - to allow county council members to jointly attend any meetings or presentations without violating the state's Sunshine Law, as long as the gathering is open to the public. Maui News.

Hawaii Health Systems Corp. is hoping this will be the year for legislation paving the way for privatization. The Senate Health Committee this week passed Senate Bill 3064, which allows for the HHSC facilities to partner with or be purchased by a local nonprofit provider such as Hawaii Pacific Health, The Queen's Health Systems or Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering creating a homeless bill of rights that supporters say would guard against laws that allow authorities to roust or intimidate people forced to live on the streets. Associated Press.

Under Senate Proposal, Parents Could be Prosecuted for Unreported Missing Children. Hawaii Reporter.

Journalists Need Protection, from Hawaii to DC. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's insurance commissioner says small businesses and individuals have the "best of both worlds" this year when it comes to health insurance. Maui News.

A public advisory was issued today, reminding ocean and beach goers to keep the recommended distance of 150-feet when observing dolphins in the wild. Maui Now.

State roundup for February 14. Associated Press.


The Oahu rail transit system's maintenance-storage facility will undergo a redesign to upgrade the track operations there -- a $4.25 million decision by project officials that scraps many of the original blueprints for how that facility was to work. Board members overseeing the rail project approved the change order Thursday to the 43-acre facility, which is in the early stages of being built near Leeward Community College. Star-Advertiser.

The city of Honolulu unveiled a life-like model Thursday of what a rail transit car will look like, sort of. The mock up, on display through the end of April at Kapolei Hale, is 14 feet high and 10 feet wide. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu residents can now see in person a life-size mock-up of the 80 rail cars being designed for the island's planned transit system. Rail officials joined Honolulu City Council members to unveil the model Thursday at Kapolei Hale, where it will remain on display during regular business hours through April. Star-Advertiser.

The Navy may soon have to install a sophisticated leak detection system at its massive Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility where thousands of gallons of fuel leaked last month. The state Department of Health urged the Navy to put in a better leak detection system as far back as 2008, but the Navy has resisted despite evidence that fuel has been contaminating the groundwater and the pollution may be moving toward a nearby Navy well that supplies drinking water to about 65,000 people at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Civil Beat.

State May Step Up Funding for Ag Inspections at Oahu Farms after Pesticide Abuses Reported. Hawaii Reporter.

The international megachurch that oversees New Hope has agreed to fork over $775,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming it shortchanged the state when it rented public school facilities on Oahu. But as of now it’s unclear exactly where the money will go. Civil Beat.

A project that could save Oahu millions of dollars in energy costs faces criticism from a North Shore community. KITV4.

The state is concerned about the spread of measles after an Oahu infant contracted the highly contagious disease in the Philippines and was infectious while traveling back to Honolulu and during visits to receive medical treatment. Star-Advertiser.


The state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee approved a measure Thursday to fund two new ambulances on the Big Island. West Hawaii Today.

The U.S. Marine Corps wants to construct and operate an urban close air support range and an aviation bull’s-eye range at Pohakuloa Training Area. West Hawaii Today.

The University of Hawaii at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy now stands at the edge of a cliff, according to Dean John Pezzuto. And this session, the state Legislature has the power to either push the program into the chasm below, or pull it back from the precipice, he added. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is teaming up with county and state agencies to create a facility to test energy storage technologies at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park in Kailua-Kona. Star-Advertiser.

The Maui Planning Commission deferred action Tuesday on an anticipated final decision to reject appeals challenging permits for the Rock & Brews restaurant in Paia. Maui News.


TSA looking into harassment allegations. Garden Island.


Tickets for Hawaii’s newest interisland operation, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian,  are now available for its long-awaited turboprop service from Honolulu International Airport to Molokai Airport and Lanai Airport by booking online at Molokai Dispatch.


Larry Ellison, who bought 98 percent of the Pineapple Isle from fellow billionaire David Murdock in 2012, has apparently yet to initiate any major philanthropic efforts for Lanai since Pacific Business News first explored this question in 2012.

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