Monday, January 26, 2015

Hawaii unemployment rate drops to 4 percent, Shield Law back before Legislature, Ige DLNR developer nominee unpopular, Kaiser health workers plan strike, no preservation plan in Kunia development, Big Island incinerator plan snuffed, lawmaker seeks slot machines in airports, Maui telescopes not an economic engine, more news from all the Hawaiian islands

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The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hawaii last month dropped to 4 percent, from 4.7 percent in December 2013, the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations said Friday. Pacific Business News.

Efforts to re-institute a law that once shielded news reporters and other journalists from revealing their anonymous sources and unpublished notes have been restarted in both the state House and Senate. Star-Advertiser.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki has introduced a measure to bring back Shield Law protections for journalists in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Friday nominated Carleton Ching, an executive with developer Castle & Cooke, to be the chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Friday announced the nominations of Carleton Ching to serve as chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Kekoa Kaluhiwa to the position of First Deputy. West Hawaii Today.

Only a few hours after Gov. David Ige had announced his nomination of Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to chair the Department of Land and Natural Resources, environmentalists were harshly criticizing the selection. Civil Beat.

Opinion: David Ige, one-term wonder? The new governor's selection of a development lobbyist to head the land-resource management branch of the state government is alienating many of his supporters. Hawaii Independent.

A group is pushing Hawaii to change a law that requires people to have gender reassignment surgery before they’re able to have their gender switched on a birth certificate. Associated Press.

Money to help doctors and health care workers repay their student loans is being proposed in a bill to lure physicians into working in areas with doctor shortages in Hawaii. Maui News.

Workers at Kaiser Permanente’s hospital and clinics in Hawaii plan to strike for six days beginning Feb. 2, the union representing them said Friday. United Here Local 5 said it’s been negotiating a contract for 2 ½ years. Associated Press.

Amid a worsening affordable housing crisis, the islands have thoroughly rejected one of the free market’s most effective solutions for creating affordable housing for middle-class and lower-middle class residents -- mobile homes. Civil Beat.

A Big Island lawmaker has introduced a bill to the state Legislature that would authorize slot machines at state airports for departing international passengers. West Hawaii Today.

Voters waiting in line and casting ballots on Election Day may become a thing of the past if bills introduced this week by Central Maui Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran and other senators become law. Maui News.

The University of Hawaii has hired Risa Dickson, the former associate provost at California State University-San Bernardino, as its vice president for academic affairs. Star-Advertiser.

New fees and permit requirements are now in effect for commercial recreational operations in state small boat harbors, facilities and near shore waters in the state of Hawaii. Any company or individual conducting commercial activity is required to contact the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation for a permit. Garden Island.

Opinion: How Progressive Is Hawaii’s Tax System? New report gives Hawaii poor marks for its tax system. The GET is bringing us down. Civil Beat.


Kunia land developed without aid of historic safeguards. Agricultural acreage that contains many archaeological sites has buildings but no preservation plans. Star-Advertiser.

Thousands stand to lose their jobs at Hawai‘i’s military bases, if the Pentagon’s proposed cuts move forward. Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter are among 30 military installations across the country where similar scenarios are playing out. Army officials are gathering public input at a series of listening sessions, including one tomorrow night in Honolulu. Hawaii Public Radio.

Last month state officials started a gated permit system that requires visitors to register their vehicles before gaining access to the 853-acre Ka‘ena Point State Park Reserve. Visitors entering on foot or by bicycle do not require a permit. Star-Advertiser.


Citing uncertainty about oil prices and instability in the ownership of the state’s electric utility, Mayor Billy Kenoi on Friday yanked the plug on a proposed waste-to-energy incinerator. West Hawaii Today.

A program that allows neighbors of Puna Geothermal Venture to sell their homes to Hawaii County is on hold, a move that leaves 30 applications in limbo. The Planning Department, which administers the geothermal relocation program, placed a moratorium on new purchases and auctions of purchased properties in response to uncertainties surrounding the June 27 lava flow, said Joaquin Gamiao, planning administrative officer. Tribune-Herald.


A recent University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization study found that Maui County telescopes, research and astronomy programs accounted for only 3 percent of the total economic impact of astronomy in the state in 2012. Maui News.

An asteroid warning system - which includes a telescope atop Haleakala - aimed at preventing devastating destruction and loss of life around the world is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Maui News.


County of Kauai officials said they have to tighten their belts if they want to find the money to pay for increased costs in the upcoming budget. Department heads are being tasked with finding a collective $8.2 million in cuts or reductions as they prepare for the fiscal year 2016 financial plan. Garden Island.

The county isn’t expecting an increase in revenue from the state in transient accommodations taxes that each county receives. So one proposal Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and three other county mayors are pitching to help balance their budgets is to temporarily enact an up to 1 percent surcharge on top of the state’s 4 percent general excise tax for counties to use. Garden Island.

Humans colonizing the Hawaiian Islands destroyed bird habitats and introduced many alien species resulting in several native forest bird species going extinct, and those which remain live only in the most pristine mountain areas. Garden Island.

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