Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Army to stay in Hawaii, House OKs minimum wage hike, anti-GMO amendment headed to Maui ballot, feds renew $10.7M homeless grant, Schatz, Hanabusa, same but different, state ponders hiker protection after Kauai Kalalau Trail rescue, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Pohakuloa Army training area (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
The Army's presence in the Pacific has grown to 106,000 active-duty soldiers from about 90,000, a nearly 18 percent increase, as the service re-balances in the region while planning drastic cuts elsewhere, officials said. Star-Advertiser.

The state House on Tuesday approved a minimum wage increase, and there were new signs that the state Senate might accept the House draft rather than force conference committee negotiations that could endanger a pay raise for low-income workers. The minimum wage would increase to $10 an hour by January 2018 and the tip credit would expand to 75 cents an hour under the House bill. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers have passed a bill that will raise the minimum wage in Hawaii. The House passed the measure Tuesday. Before it goes to the governor to become law, its details will have to be hammered out in conference with the Senate. Associated Press.

The state attorney general said Hawaii will continue to provide health benefits for Micronesian migrants until a lawsuit on the issue is resolved. Attorney General David Louie said Tuesday the migrants will receive uninterrupted access to health benefits while the suit is pending. Star-Advertiser.

In the senatorial contest between U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, it can be challenging to find clear ideological differences. Both are Democrats in a left-leaning state, and their votes tend to align with their party. In terms of their track records in Washington, it can be about a sliver here or a nuance there. But campaigns are often fought — and won — by making the right contrasts. Civil Beat.

LGBT, Church groups mobilize around Horner nomination The BOE chairman's Senate re-appointment confirmation hearing could become a flash point for the first skirmish of the new year between the groups that fought over same-sex marriage in October. Hawaii Independent.

Rebounding from an “F” in government transparency last year, Hawaii this year has attained a “C” grade as the second most improved state in the nation, according to a “Following the Money” study released Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Federal housing officials have renewed $10.7 million in grants for 38 Hawaii homeless housing and service programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Continuum of Care Program. The programs deal with a variety of services from street outreach to client assessment to direct housing assistance to homeless individuals and families with children. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii auditor has commended the State Public Charter School Commission for so quickly turning around an education system that lacked serious oversight. In a report the office released Tuesday, the auditor says a 2012 law that re-established charter schools’ governance structure and clarified the lines of accountability shows real promise. Civil Beat.

Teach for America in Hawaii says losing about $1 million in state funding will drastically hamper efforts to train and support teachers in struggling schools that need them the most. Associated Press.

State is pursuing initiatives to keep kids' teeth healthy. The state Health Department's dental hygiene branch was eliminated in 2009 due to budget cuts. Star-Advertiser.

The top 10 University of Hawaii employees make on average almost 13 times more than the bottom 100 workers earn, salary data for 2013 shows. The highest paid position last year was again the football coach. Norm Chow's base salary was $550,000. Civil Beat.


An effort to permit residential towers on land owned by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs in a makai portion of Kaka­ako could be on shaky ground at the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Red-shirted sign-wavers rallied at the state Capitol Tuesday, trying to defeat legislation that will allow the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to develop residential buildings in Kakaako Makai. Surfers, fishermen, environmental groups and park users held signs that read "No High Rises!" and "Save Our Kakaako." They later massed in the House of Representatives gallery to listen to lawmakers deliberate over Senate Bill 3122. Civil Beat.

State Health Department officials are investigating the alleged illegal dumping of tons of potentially hazardous materials in Kalaeloa. Investigators with Health Department's hazardous waste branch are testing the corrosiveness of the white powdery substance stored on land owned by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands near the Kalaeloa Airport. Hawaii News Now.

Instead of being used as a farm and generating rental income for the state, an agricultural plot in Waimanalo has been vacant for six years, prompting complaints from a state senator. Hawaii News Now.


The state’s public hospital network says it is in need of emergency funding if it is to maintain its current level of service as Hawaii’s health care safety net. Specifically, administrators of Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s East Hawaii Region — encompassing four acute and long-term care facilities and 11 clinics on the windward side of the Big Isle — say they expect to come up short this year to the tune of just less than $5 million unless aided by the state. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County is still a few years away from being able to offer treated water for reuse in landscaping irrigation, Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd said Tuesday evening. West Hawaii Today.

The state House of Representatives on Tuesday voted in favor of a bill establishing a temporary working group to help the state acquire lands in Waipio Valley. Tribune-Herald.

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority officials are looking two decades down the road with a draft environmental assessment for several internal connector roads. West Hawaii Today.


The Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina (SHAKA) Movement submitted more than 9,500 signatures Monday in support of a temporary ban on growing or testing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Maui County, becoming the first citizen's initiative in the county to garner enough signatures to be considered for the ballot. Maui News.

A total of 9,500 signatures were submitted to the county on Monday as part of a petition calling for the suspension of genetically-engineered operations and practices in Maui County. Maui News.

A Maui group says it has submitted more than 9,500 signatures in support of a temporary ban on growing or testing genetically modified organisms in Maui County. The measure will be heard by the Maui County Council if the group, the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement, has been found to have gathered at least 8,500 valid signatures. Associated Press.


Shall the Code of Ethics be amended to allow members of boards and commissions to appear before boards they are not a member of to represent private interests? It’s an issue that voters may take up in this year’s election if the County Council approves a resolution today authorizing the ballot question. Garden Island.

The Kauai Fire Commission on Monday said it would wait for a task force report before deciding whether to support legislation that could dictate when emergency responders could use sirens and lights. Garden Island.

When it comes to closing Kauai’s Kalalau Trail, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources relies exclusively on warnings from the National Weather Service and information from its ranger in Haena. Garden Island.

Kauai’s Kalalau Trail reopened Tuesday, one day day after an exhaustive rescue that involved firefighters flying 121 hikers out of an area near Hanakapiai stream over a two-day period. KHON2.

Oahu native Ho‘omanawanui makes House bid. Garden Island.

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