Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rail tax, Turtle Bay, marijuana dispensaries unresolved as Legislature nears session end, bill seeks sponsors for public facilities, advertising could come to Honolulu zoo, lava puts on a show, Maui woman dies from shark bites, Kona courthouse funded, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Medical marijuana sign in Hilo © 2015 All Hawaii News
With only two days left to come to a decision, House and Senate lawmakers remain at odds over key aspects of legislation to establish medical marijuana dispensaries in the Aloha State 15 years after medi-pot was legalized here. Civil Beat.

Sen. Rosalyn Baker from Maui has revised Senate Bill 737 to re-insert a 36 percent cap on the annual percentage rate payday loan companies would be able to charge Hawaii residents. Civil Beat.

A proposal in Hawaii’s Legislature would expand a state mandate on fertility treatments to include same sex couples and single women, updating a law that now only offers such benefits to women who are married to men. Associated Press.

The state is moving closer to granting naming rights to those who are willing to put up money to pay for government facilities. State lawmakers are poised to pass House Bill 318, the first step to make it easier to allow for naming rights in public places like city parks. KHON2.

The Hawaiian Electric Cos. were among the top utilities in the United States for solar power in 2014, according to a new report. Pacific Business News.

The journey toward self-determination for Native Hawaiians does not come without its own form of growing pains. Hawaii Independent.


State lawmakers spent less than three minutes Wednesday discussing the proposed rail tax extension in one of dozens of whirlwind sessions held during the day to hash out new bills before a Friday deadline. Star-Advertiser.

A proposal to extend Honolulu’s 0.5 percent General Excise Tax surcharge to help pay for the city’s controversial $6 billion rail project looks like it’ll come down to the wire. Civil Beat.

For the second year in a row, the state Legislature is nearing the end of its lawmaking session without a clear vision of how to pay for protecting about 665 acres at Turtle Bay Resort from hotel and housing development. Star-Advertiser.

Bills that would allow limited sponsorship of or advertising on exhibits or facilities at the Honolulu Zoo got a preliminary approval from the City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Department of Health ordered the cleanup of the site of a former race track, known as Kalaeloa Raceway Park, Wednesday after finding hazardous wastes and used oil there. Civil Beat.


The House and Senate late Tuesday approved the additional $55 million in funding for the Kona Judiciary Complex, among more than $100 million dedicated to West Hawaii projects in the state budget for the next two years. The total also includes $2.5 million to design a federal inspections station at Kona International Airport, $1.2 million for a school and community commercial kitchen for Kona Pacific Public Charter School and $660,000 in state and federal funds to purchase land for the extension of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway to Queen Kaahumanu Highway. West Hawaii Today.

The rising lava lake at the summit of Kilauea Volcano has flowed over its rim onto the Halemaumau crater floor, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Star-Advertiser.

For the first time in more than three decades, lava is flowing across the floor of Kilauea volcano’s Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Tribune-Herald.


A 65-year-old Kihei woman died Wednesday after she was apparently bitten by a shark while snorkeling — the third such fatality off south Maui in the past two years, the Maui Fire Department said. Star-Advertiser.

A deadly shark attack Wednesday morning has prompted officials to close beaches along parts of Maui. Hawaii News Now.


Kauai's coral reefs remain under attack from black band disease, according to a new report that found the infection in nearly half of the corals surveyed around the island. Star-Advertiser.

Rising ocean temperatures may be part of the answer to a mystery state scientists are trying to uncover: What’s causing a deadly disease to thrive at the expense of Kauai’s coral reefs? Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hawaii House and Senate committee agrees on 'skinny' budget, Maui hospital privatization bill passes, sex trafficking, marijuana dispensary, nursing home bills still in limbo, Hawaii County mayor recall petition launched, Thirty Meter Telescope protesters get day in court, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii state Capitol © 2015 All Hawaii News
House and Senate lawmakers announced they have reached agreement on a new, "very skinny" state budget that would limit general fund spending to about $6.6 billion in the year ahead, or roughly the same total as Gov. David Ige proposed in the draft budget he submitted to lawmakers earlier this year. Star-Advertiser.

A panel of House and Senate lawmakers reached an agreement Tuesday on the final draft of the overall state budget, but some big spending questions will be settled later this week. The conference committee unanimously approved a budget that is $4.3 million over Gov. David Ige’s initial request for fiscal 2016, which starts July 1, and $53 million under his request for fiscal 2017. Civil Beat.

While Hawaii lawmakers discuss extending the general excise tax surcharge to help pay for the over-budget Honolulu rail project, there’s only one bill still alive in the Legislature that would give low-income residents a tax break. Senate Bill 555 would increase the food/excise tax credit, which hasn’t been changed since it was established in 2007. Civil Beat.

Hawaii is the last state in the nation without a comprehensive sex trafficking ban, and lawmakers are trying to shed that distinction. A conference committee of representatives and senators is working on the final version of a bill to ban sex trafficking, but the proposal previously met with resistance from law enforcement. A new version was presented in a hearing Tuesday, and the panel postponed making a decision until Thursday. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that could keep married couples together on the one hand, but risks displacing Medicaid clients in favor of private-pay clients. Civil Beat.

As the haggling about medical marijuana dispensary legislation enters the home stretch in Honolulu, state Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, is advocating the “start small” approach. But at least one Big Island lawmaker on the House side indicates agreement might not be easy to reach on how many dispensaries there should be. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Legislature is passing a bill to ban powdered alcohol before the product has gone on sale in the state. KITV4.

When it comes to sex education in Hawaii, deciding how schools should address the subject is about as messy and confusing for the adults in charge as the topic itself can be for teenagers. Hawaii is one of just 10 states that does not mandate students be provided access to sex education or taught about HIV/AIDS in public schools. Civil Beat.


A special tax credit established to help relocate maritime tenants on the Honolulu waterfront is poised to be expanded and sweetened in ways that some observers estimate could cost the state $20 million in the years ahead. Star-Advertiser.

Developer D.R. Horton polished its community service image Tuesday, two days before a potentially deciding City Council vote on whether to rezone 1,553 acres of Ewa farmland to build Horton's proposed 11,750-home Ho‘opili community. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu Community Correctional Center’s days could be numbered, as the city and state say it’s time for a new facility. KHON2.

A Honolulu City Council committee is looking into taking additional steps to lower homelessness on O’ahu, which increased by 4 percent over last year. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state Health Department has fined two companies nearly $40,000 for illegal dumping in former pineapple field in Whitmore Village. Hawaii News Now.

An exclusive look inside Oahu's illegal street racing scene. Hawaii News Now.

A new survey found that 93 incubator technology companies, who are or have been tenants of Manoa Innovation Center, had a total economic impact of $213.7 million on Hawaii, according to High Technology Development Corp.’s annual economic survey. Pacific Business News.


A Hilo man has begun collecting signatures on a petition to recall Mayor Billy Kenoi, who currently is being investigated by the state attorney general and is the subject of an ethics complaint for personal use of his government-issued credit card. West Hawaii Today.

During a relatively low-key proceeding, 21 of the 31 Thirty Meter Telescope protesters facing petty misdemeanor charges after being arrested on Mauna Kea earlier this month made their first appearance in Hilo District Court on Tuesday, with all but one receiving a refund for their $250 bail. Tribune-Herald.

On Sunday, the Tribune-Herald broke a story about a law group’s efforts to exonerate a co-defendant in one of Hawaii’s most notorious murders. On Monday, a key witness in that effort was dead.

The recent death of Hilo’s Dr. Djon Indra Lim highlights an ongoing shortage of cardiologists on Hawaii Island. For 40 years, Lim — who died April 15 at age 77 — filled a vital role in East Hawaii, and his loss is a major blow, said Hilo Medical Center Interim CEO Dan Brinkman. Tribune-Herald.

A rockfall from the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater triggering an explosion at the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea volcano on Tuesday. The explosive event occurred around 10:20 a.m., and hurled large fragments of molten lava onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, 280 feet above the lake. Big Island Video News.


An estimated 250 people showed up for a public meeting last night in which board members of the Maui Regional System of the Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation discussed potential job and service cuts to deal with a projected $28 million budget gap. Maui Now.

Hawaii Health Systems Corp.'s Maui Region Board does not believe cuts to services, staffing and beds would allow Maui Memorial Medical Center to survive for the foreseeable future and stop it from bleeding money should a public-private partnership bill fail in the state Legislature. Maui News.

A panel of state lawmakers has approved a plan that paves the way for Maui hospitals to enter into a partnership deal. A conference committee of senators and representatives passed the bill late Tuesday. Associated Press.

Lawmakers passed historic legislation Tuesday that would allow Maui Memorial Medical Center and the Kula and Lanai Community hospitals to pursue a public-private partnership. Maui News.

State and House conferees approved of a bill on Tuesday that paves the way for the establishment of a public-private partnership for hospitals on Maui. Maui Now.

After years of unsuccessful tries, state lawmakers are poised to pass a deal that would eventually transform the Maui Memorial Medical Center and two other state-owned medical facilities into privately managed entities. Star-Advertiser.

A legislative conference committee made up of House and Senate lawmakers has finalized a bill that would allow a private entity to manage Maui County state hospital facilities in an effort to save the state millions of dollars in operating costs. Civil Beat.

Lower property tax and status quo water rates, along with higher user fees for the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course and Maui Bus, were part of the proposed budget presented by the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee chairman Monday. Maui News.

Transportation Security Administration agents confiscated a non-metallic knife with a 3.5-inch blade that a man tried to pass through security at Lihue Airport. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kilauea lava lake attracts crowd, counties could get general excise tax surcharge by adopting roads in limbo, Honolulu rail worries businesses, ordnance removal a dangerous job, Marine Corps commander relieved of duties, half of Kauai coral diseased, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy National Parks Service
Kilauea lava lake, courtesy Mark Wasser NPS
The lava lake atop Kilauea continues to put on a breathtaking show, swelling Monday morning to yet another record high just a few feet shy of Overlook Vent’s rim. If the lava continues to rise, it soon could spill out of the vent and onto the floor of the larger Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Tribune-Herald.

A group of senators, led by Ways and Means Chairwoman Sen. Jill Tokuda (D, Kai­lua-Kane­ohe), proposed that any county be allowed to adopt a general excise tax surcharge for a limited time — but to do so, that county would also have to put in writing that it owns the disputed "public highways" there. Star-Advertiser.

So-called “roads in limbo” are the latest bargaining chip in the negotiations to extend Honolulu’s rail tax to help shore up an estimated $910 million shortfall. On Monday, state Sen. Jill Tokuda revealed her chamber’s latest version of House Bill 134 that would extend Oahu’s 0.5 percent General Excise Tax surcharge for rail for five years from 2022 to 2027 and allow neighboring counties to implement their own tax hike. Civil Beat.

A bill to create a limited purpose driver license for undocumented immigrants and other people lacking the usually required identification is awaiting a floor vote in the Hawaii House of Representatives. Civil Beat.

Contract ratification meetings resumed Monday for two units of the Hawaii Government Employees Association that are considering a proposed new agreement with the state and counties, but at least some union members are still unhappy with the settlement. Star-Advertiser.

Despite concerns from the Hawaii Department of Human Services, state lawmakers are advancing a bill that would relax rules on community care foster family homes to allow married elderly couples to live together despite their level of insurance coverage. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s senior population is increasing, but the funding of the state’s Kupuna Care program, which provides basic services to older adults who can’t live at home without help, has stayed flat for years. Senate Bill 964 would provide additional funding to the Kupuna Care program. It’s now in conference committee with a hearing scheduled Tuesday, and the specific dollar figures in the first draft have been converted to blanks while negotiations continue. Civil Beat.

State health officials have asked legislators to put an expiration date on a proposed law that could displace an unknown number of Medicaid clients who want to live at community care foster family homes. Civil Beat.


As Oahu rail construction pushes closer toward town, more local businesses along the route are feeling the strain — and more are starting to air concerns that they won't be able to survive all the work. Star-Advertiser.

Col. Eric Schaefer, the commanding officer in charge of Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, has been relieved of his duties. The announcement came around 9:15 p.m. on Monday evening. Military officials say the decision was made due to "loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead his command." Hawaii News Now.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa has completed a $100 million renovation of the beachfront resort's 1,230 rooms, including Japa­nese bidet-style toilets with cleansing jet streams in each room. Star-Advertiser.

Tracking truth, transparency promises at Honolulu Police Department. KHON2.


Ordnance removal workers say job is hazardous, pay is unfair. West Hawaii Today.

Construction at the troubled Hu Honua Bioenergy plant in Pepeekeo again has met with delays after the company announced Monday the need to lay off employees. It was not clear how many employees were laid off or whether any work at the site was continuing. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Mayor, Billy Kenoi, is in trouble for misusing his County P- card, charging nearly 130-thousand dollars in personal expenses.   But the Mayor is term limited next year and cannot run for re-election. What are his political options? Hawaii Public Radio.

A 35-year-old Pahoa man was tasered and arrested after he illegally deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, Saturday night at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, according to the National Park Service. HVNP spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane on Monday identified the man as Travis Ray Sanders. Tribune-Herald.

The campaign to prevent the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope from becoming a reality on Mauna Kea has gone absolutely viral. Maybe a little too viral, according to anti-TMT leader Kea­loha Pisciotta, who said the recent cyberattacks on the state and TMT websites don't really fit into the movement's style of nonviolent protest. Star-Advertiser.

Frank Pauline Jr., one of three men convicted of the 1991 Christmas Eve murder and rape of Dana Ireland on Hawaii island, died Monday in a New Mexico prison yard. Star-Advertiser.

Amateur cinematographers on the Big Island looking for exposure will have an opportunity to share their versions of the world around them during a new Hawaii television series that showcases local talent. The show, called “Everything Hawaii,” premiers at 7:30 p.m. May 5 on OC16. West Hawaii Today.


The Maui Region of the Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation announced plans to initiate public discussion on what they are calling “imminent service and position cuts.” Maui Now.


Half the coral reef sites surveyed by state scientists in nearshore Kauaian waters in the last year are plagued by disease, environmental officials announced Monday. Garden Island.

An islandwide power outage left many homes and businesses in the dark Monday night and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative asking customers to conserve energy to help weather the situation. KIUC spokesman Jim Kelly said their largest generator is down for maintenance through this week, and when the second generator went offline due to a mechanical problem about 5:45 p.m., different areas lost electricity. Garden Island.

Debris from a fishing boat has washed up in the Uhelekawawa Canal in Kapaa, about 100 yards inland from the Bull Shed Restaurant. Carl Berg, chairman of the Surfrider Foundation’s Kauai Chapter, said the two large boat pieces are similar to features found on Japanese fishing boats that have previously washed up on the island’s shores. Garden Island.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mauna Kea telescope protestors shut down state website, invasive fire ants spotted at Thirty Meter Telescope protest site, Hawaii could be first state to raise smoking age, Sea-Based X-Band Radar could move to mainland, Kalaupapa plan released, Maui mulls recycling, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Mauna Kea sunset in the clouds © 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii state government’s official website went down Sunday, along with the main site for the organization building the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea. A group of hackers associated with Anonymous claimed responsibility for the cyberattack that began at 9:21 a.m. and lasted for several hours. Civil Beat.

The hacking group Anonymous claimed responsibility today for shutting down the websites for the Thirty Meter Telescope and state of Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

The official website of the Hawaii state government was allegedly hacked by an online group opposed to construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.  A Hawaii Community Affairs official confirms the telescope's website was hacked as well. Hawaii News Now.

Mauna Kea protesters who want to stop the Thirty Meter Telescope apparently brought with them a potentially destructive force of a different kind — invasive ants. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents listened to more than four hours of testimony Sunday from speakers opposing the Thirty Meter Telescope, with many Native Hawaiians expressing their spiritual and cultural connection to Mauna Kea where the $1.4 billion observatory is planned to be built. Tribune-Herald.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will meet again on Thursday, April 30 where they are expected to (again) take a position on the Thirty Meter Telescope planned for the summit area of Mauna Kea. OHA voted to support the project in the past, but with the emergence of a vocal and determined opposition from beneficiaries, the Board of Trustees is entertaining the demand to reconsider. Big Island Video News.

As protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope continue, many critics say they’re worried that the $1.4 billion project will damage Mauna Kea’s pristine environment. Thirteen observatories have already been built on the top of the state’s tallest mountain, but the TMT will be by far the largest. Once completed, the observatory and its support building will span 1.4 acres. Civil Beat.

Putting a stop to the Thirty Meter Telescope also would mean losing $1 million a year for Native Hawaiian scholarships and other programs provided by the project’s education fund, an issue that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board chairman is keeping in mind as the state agency faces pressure from protesters to change its endorsement. Tribune-Herald.

The author of a violent, profanity and hate-filled rant on Facebook that targeted supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island now says he's sorry. Hawaii News Now.

A bill that would make Hawaii the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21 cleared the Legislature on Friday and is headed to the governor. The bill would prevent adolescents from smoking, buying or possessing both traditional and electronic cigarettes. Associated Press.

There’s a proposal in the State Legislature that could ban something you probably have in your home. Lawmakers are pushing to ban the manufacture and sale of personal care products that contain synthetic plastic microbeads, saying they’re harmful to marine life, possibly even carcinogenic. KHON2.

It's the final rush in the Legislature, and major decisions are looming on several issues, including the Hawaii Health Connector. All state-run insurance exchanges are required to be financially sustainable this year, and the federal government has been in discussions with the state about whether the Health Connector will be partially taken over by federal officials. Associated Press.

Suzanne Case, who has been with The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii for 28 years, won confirmation from the Hawaii state Senate to serve as the chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Pacific Business News.

The Jones Act Pays Off — in Politics. The state’s delegation in Washington, D.C., enjoys outsized donations from maritime lobbyists, but several members told Civil Beat this doesn't affect their stances. Civil Beat.


Honolulu's rail project faces a new challenge against its construction bid process, and the officials overseeing the project say this latest bid protest could create a ripple effect that might delay the project's completion and opening. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Fire Commission gave Fire Chief Manuel Neves an excellent rating on his annual performance evaluation despite ongoing tensions between the chief and the firefighters union. Star-Advertiser.

Some in Congress want to move the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, otherwise known as the floating golf ball, from Pearl Harbor to the East Coast to provide greater missile defense over the Atlantic and a hedge against attacks from Iran. Star-Advertiser.

More than 40 veterans have been in limbo because they haven't been able to use their Housing Choice vouchers, which would cover all or most of their rent, due to the lack of affordable housing in Honolulu. Star-Advertiser.

A rekindled effort is underway to build homes with golf course views on a strip of land in Hawaii Kai once intended to become a city road. Star-Advertiser.


The University of Hawaii at Hilo will receive $800,000 from the state Department of Transportation as part of the agreement forged around the widening of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway. West Hawaii Today.

When it’s not an election year, only the most faithful of the party faithful show up for the convention, as was the case Saturday when the Hawaii County Democratic Party held its annual event. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Innocence Project has taken up the case of one of three men convicted for the 1991 rape and murder of Dana Ireland. Tribune-Herald.


Dozens of Maui Meadows residents had expressed a willingness to pay an extra $5 or $6 per month to keep their curbside recycling program, but cost estimates released last month by the Maui County Solid Waste Division have some residents reconsidering. Maui News.

House Speaker Joe Souki said Friday afternoon that he was "very confident" a version of the much-debated, public-private partnership bill for Maui Memorial Medical Center and the Kula and Lanai Community hospitals would be passed by the state Legislature. Maui News.

Mike Atherton, owner of Maui Tropical Plantation, has big plans for the small town of Waikapu and is looking to build thousands of homes and businesses in the area over the next decade. Maui News.

A group of youth volunteers spent recent weeks planting thousands of native trees on the leeward slopes of Haleakalā as part of an effort aimed at restoring dryland habitat for endangered native plant and bird species including the Kiwikiu or Maui Parrotbill bird, which numbered only 500 at last report. Maui Now.


Providing quality service under a balanced budget is the goal. Kauai County officials say they’re hashing out their proposed fiscal year 2016 budget with both of those components in mind, but with collective bargaining raises coming online, that task has been difficult — and will require that some positions go unfilled. Garden Island.

County of Kauai officials say rough portions of several highly traveled roads are scheduled to be smoothed out over the next two years as a part of a $3.5 million initiative to address those in most need. Garden Island.

Kauai North Shore Community Foundation member Lorraine Mull and others are pushing for a public middle and high school on the North Shore. There are elementary schools in Hanalei and Kilauea but no public school on the North Shore that goes beyond the sixth grade. Garden Island.

Island residents and visitors still have an opportunity to view rare prints of plants collected during Capt. James Cook’s first of three Pacific voyages. Garden Island.


The Kalaupapa National Historical Park Draft General Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement is now available for public review. Molokai Dispatch.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hawaii national parks bring in the green, Ige to attend White House dinner for Japanese prime minister, less instruction, more pay for teachers, $14M wasted on computer system, three telescopes to be idled, $50M bond float likely, Oahu pig farm could close, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Halemaʻumaʻu caldera © 2015 All Hawaii News
National park service visitation rebounded in 2014 in Hawaii, generating an estimated $417.3 million in economic benefits. Some 5.2 million people, or just over 6 percent more than in 2013, visited Hawaii's seven national parks last year, according to a visitor spending report Thursday by the National Park Service. Star-Advertiser.

More than 5.2 million visitors dished out an estimated $340.5 million around Hawaii’s national parks in 2014, according to a new report by the National Park Service. More than half that money, $175.6 million, was spent on the Big Isle, home to three parks and a historic site. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. David Ige's office says he will represent Hawaii at a White House state dinner honoring Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next week. President Barack Obama will host the dinner for Abe on Tuesday. Associated Press.

Public schools will no longer be required to tally the number of "instructional" minutes students receive throughout the school year under revisions made to a 2010 law that mandates minimum learning time. Under Senate Bill 822, which Gov. David Ige signed into law Thursday, the term "instructional hours" in Act 167 has been replaced with "student hours," meaning learning time will now apply to any time that students are in school. Star-Advertiser.

A new law gives Hawaii public schools flexibility to create schedules based on the amount of days and hours required for a school year. The union representing Hawaii's public school teachers says Gov. David Ige signed the bill Thursday. Associated Press.

The price tag for the contract covering Hawaii's 13,500 public school teachers has climbed to more than $388 million now that the teachers union has negotiated additional compensation for the remaining two years of the deal. Under the settlement, which the Legislature is expected to approve, teachers will receive a one-time bonus in the fall; a boost to their base salary in two years; more paid professional development training; and a decrease in health insurance costs. Star-Advertiser.

Contract ratification meetings for members of two units of the Hawaii Government Employees Association were suspended by the union Thursday, a development that will delay indefinitely any agreement or raises for about 14,400 state, city and county workers. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are looking for ways to prop up the state’s financially struggling health exchange, and they’re considering cash from the general fund. All state-run insurance exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act must be financially sustainable this year. But the Hawaii Health Connector doesn’t have enough money for its operations. Associated Press.

The state spent $13.88 million on what was dubbed the "FAST" project to replace an out-of-date computer system in the state Highways Division, but the new system still doesn't work, and Gov. David Ige finally stepped in last month to cancel the project. Star-Advertiser.

The state spent $13.88 million on a failed effort to improve the Department of Transportation's financial accounting system, so the state terminated the contract last month, Gov. David Ige said Thursday. Hawaii News Now.


A special Senate committee has adopted rules to govern its investigation into whether Sen. Brickwood Galuteria is qualified to serve in the Senate. The committee met briefly Thursday morning and plans to hold another hearing on Monday at 10 a.m. in response to a complaint alleging that Galuteria doesn’t actually live in Kakaako, the district he represents. Civil Beat.

Key state lawmakers in the House still want Oahu's rail tax cut in half if it is to be extended — and they also aim to put an end to any talk of neighbor islands enacting a surcharge to help fund transportation-related projects in their respective counties. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers are divided on how best to bail out Honolulu’s over-budget and underfunded commuter rail project that, when completed, will be the nation’s first fully driverless transit system. Civil Beat.

A long-awaited sludge-receiving station at the HPOWER waste-to-energy incineration facility opens next month at Campbell Industrial Park to try to reduce the need for landfill space on Oahu. Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other officials dedicated the $10.6 million injection station Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

The pit at the H-POWER plant has a sliding door that opens and a truck backs in, dumping a mixture of human waste and regular garbage down to the bottom. That nasty mixture is turned into sludge and burned. KITV4.

Shinsato Farm could close if a buyer for its Windward Oahu property can't be found, co-owner Amy Shinsato told Pacific Business News this week. The farm, which has been in business for about 75 years, produces pork that can be found on the menu in many Hawaii restaurants.

A Department of Land and Natural Resources crew on Thursday retrieved a 20-foot skiff from an Oahu shoreline area that may be debris from the March 2011 Japan tsunami. West Hawaii Today.

Some Leeward Oahu residents say a half-million dollar beautification project is compromising the safety of drivers. Concrete barriers are all along the median on Farrington Highway, but there’s about a mile stretch that’s strictly lined with plants. KHON2.


The Hawaii County Council will soon be asked to authorize borrowing as much as $50 million to $60 million in general obligation bonds, as Mayor Billy Kenoi works to finish a list of projects before his term ends late next year. West Hawaii Today.

Decommissioning of as many as three telescopes could be expedited as the University of Hawaii responds to protests from Native Hawaiians over the construction of the largest observatory yet on Mauna Kea. Tribune-Herald.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees decided Thursday to formally reconsider its endorsement of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope planned for the summit of Mauna Kea. The board, which voted to support the $1.4 billion telescope in 2009, scheduled a special meeting for Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Battle Over Geothermal Contract Plays Out in Court and at PUC. Critics say they will contest a new geothermal energy deal between Hawaii Electric Light Co. and Ormat, its longtime partner. Civil Beat.

New kayak tour could make Kohala Ditch self-sustaining. West Hawaii Today.

Kona Brewing Co. announced Thursday that it will be expanding and moving its current brewery in Kona to a new, undisclosed location. West Hawaii Today.

The lava lake in Halemaumau at Kilauea’s summit could be visible from the edge of the caldera as early as today if it continues to rise, geologists say. The lake, which rises and falls during periods of inflationary or deflationary tilt, reached new heights Thursday afternoon when it was less than 70 feet from the crater floor, surpassing the last record from October 2012 by more than 2 feet. Tribune-Herald.


Tourism to Haleakalā National Park in 2014 generated more than $70.3 million in visitor spending and supported 837 jobs in the area, according to new data released by the National Park Service. Maui Now.


A Hawaii family donated two perpetual conservation easements on Thursday to the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. The donation comprises about 40 acres of wetland taro located in Waioli Valley and was given to ensure it remained in its natural state forever. Garden Island.

Hundreds of high school students had their day in court on Thursday, but it wasn’t for anything bad. Instead, the hour-long court proceeding allowed them to see the legal system in action as five state Supreme Court justices took on a longstanding dispute between the County of Kauai and State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, which represents unionized Kauai Police Department employees. Garden Island.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Top elected officials popular with Hawaii voters, contrite Kenoi pitches county budget, raises for teachers, white-collar public employees, B&B big hassle for Kauai, Maui celebrates tobacco-free parks, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo
Hawaii Sens. Brian Schatz, Mazie Hirono, courtesy photo
Hawaii voters are generally quite content with their top elected officials but the support varies by island, age, gender and income, a new Civil Beat Poll shows. We surveyed 780 registered voters April 7-9, asking their opinion of U.S. Reps. Mark Takai and Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Gov. David Ige, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and President Barack Obama.

Newly negotiated contracts that would award raises of 4 percent per year over a two-year period to about 15,240 unionized state and county employees are being put to statewide ratification votes this week, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which represents 13,500 public school teachers, announced late Wednesday night that it had reached an agreement with the state for increased salary and benefits for the remaining two years of the teachers' current contract. Star-Advertiser.

As Gov. David Ige wends his way through his fifth month in office, there’s growing concern over who his administration will choose to fill several key positions guiding land and water use policy, environmental protection, longterm planning and development — all of which can literally shape Hawaii’s future. Civil Beat.

When Hilo resident Charlotte Kaide read about an elderly Oahu couple that, after 67 years of marriage, is being forced to live in separate care homes, she felt as if she was reliving a nightmare. Tribune-Herald.

The Thirty Meter Telescope isn't even on the agenda, but Thursday's meeting of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees likely will be overwhelmed by the controversial $1.4 billion project. Star-Advertiser.


Mayor Kirk Caldwell is warning Honolulu City Council members that efforts to expand the city's sit-lie sidewalk ban could make the existing law vulnerable to legal challenges. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Senate has confirmed a district court judge nomination. William Domingo was confirmed Tuesday as a judge for Oahu First Circuit District Court. Associated Press.

About 5 p.m., pau-hana commute times were running more than two hours on H-1 from downtown to Kapolei because of a pedestrian death. Star-Advertiser.

Free parking at Honolulu Zoo to end soon. KHON2.


A subdued and outwardly contrite Mayor Billy Kenoi came before the County Council on Wednesday to talk about the budget, but first on his plate was a serving of humble pie. West Hawaii Today.

Embattled Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi on Wednesday morning made his first apology on Hawaii island for more than $129,000 in charges he billed to the county, including trips to Honolulu hostess bars. Star-Advertiser.

If everyone in the room didn’t already know about the state-wide controversy surrounding the Hawaii County mayor’s spending habits, they might have thought Billy Kenoi was apologizing for his proposed budget. Big Island Video News.

A handful of community members sounded off Wednesday on the recent government purchase card spending fiasco plaguing the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi. Big Island Video News.

A council briefing on the Hawaii County budget was overshadowed by the controversy surrounding embattled Mayor Billy Kenoi Wednesday morning. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi appeared before the County Council Wednesday to begin a series of budget briefings. However, the hearing was dominated by the mayor's improper use of his county issued credit card, or pCard. KITV4.

Google Maps will soon offer transit directions for the Hawaii County’s bus system, Hele-On Bus, as part of a new community project. West Hawaii Today.

Of the more than 10,000 animals euthanized by the Hawaii Island Humane Society last year, only 3 percent fell into the category of adoptable, according to Hawaii Island Humane Society Executive Director Donna Whitaker. Tribune-Herald.

A breathtaking, oceanfront mega-mansion on the Big Island is back on the market and it can be yours for $8.2 million. The 9-plus acre "Waterfalling Estate" was originally listed in 2014 for $26.5 million. Hawaii News Now.


Today marks the one-year anniversary of a bill that effectively banned the use of tobacco at county parks, beaches and recreational facilities in Maui County. Maui Now.

A 40-foot fishing boat that ran aground two weeks ago and spilled 50 gallons of diesel fuel offshore of Koki Beach in Hana is expected to be removed in the next few days, U.S. Coast Guard and Maui County officials said. Maui News

Opinion: The saber-rattling between Maui County’s hospitals and their many friends in the county and state Legislature on one hand and Governor David Ige and the powerful Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) that backs him on the other is getting serious. MauiTime.

The Maui region of the quasi-public body that runs Maui Memorial Medical Center has called a public meeting for Tuesday to discuss cuts in services and personnel to meet a projected $28 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Maui News.


The Kauai County Council’s effort on Wednesday to regulate homestay and bed-and-breakfast operations islandwide was met with resistance. Garden Island.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and the county’s budget team, Nadine Nakamura, Ken Shimonishi, and Sally Motta, will present a financial overview at the Wailua-Kapaa Neighborhood Association meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kapaa Library. Garden Island.

Protesters used Earth Day to rally against the delayed Thirty Meter Telescope project on Mauna Kea on the Big Island Wednesday at Kauai Community College. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hawaii House and Senate conference committee works on budget, Honolulu voters oppose transit tax, Ige intervenes in Maui hospital privatization plan, Thirty Meter Telescope protests continue, Board of Education mulls expanding sex ed, Kauai dairy foes raise money as lawsuit nears, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy of House Majority Communications
Conference committee mulls budget, courtesy House Majority Communications
Lawmakers from Hawaii's House and Senate have begun negotiating how the state will spend its $26.3 billion budget over the next two years. Members of the House Committee on Finance and Senate Committee on Ways and Means held their first in a series of conference committee meetings on Tuesday, and announced parts of the budget where they were able to reach agreement. But most major decisions will be brokered over the next two weeks. Associated Press.

A joint panel of House and Senate lawmakers have finished their first day of work in conference committee resolving differences between each chamber’s draft of the overall state budget for the next two years, expected to come in at roughly $26 billion. Civil Beat.

Is Collecting Taxes a ‘War Crime’ in Hawaii? It is if the state is still an occupied kingdom, as some are arguing. Civil Beat.

The state Board of Education is considering expanding its long-standing abstinence-based sex education policy to include lessons on contraceptives, disease prevention and various skills to help students “make healthy decisions about sexuality and relationships,” while still emphasizing abstinence. Star-Advertiser.

The Legislature on Tuesday sent a bill to Gov. David Ige that says state policy is to ensure the use of liquefied natural gas does not slow the development and use of renewable energy sources. The bill does not include a penalty if the use of LNG is found to slow the adoption of renewable energy. Star-Advertiser.

Legislation designating the ōpe‘ape‘a or Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinerus semotus) as the official state land mammal “flew through the Senate, glided through the House of Representatives, and will land on Governor Ige’s desk in the attic of the Capitol Building for his signature” Wednesday afternoon. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige is expected to sign into law a bill four years in the making that would bestow the Hawaiian hoary bat with this one-of-a-kind designation. The goal is to recognize and raise awareness about the efforts to save this imperiled and uniquely Hawaiian critter, also known as the opeapea. Garden Island.

Three areas at risk from climate change on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island will get special attention from federal agencies to help protect reefs and shorelines and prepare for rising sea levels, the White House and three agencies announced Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Dan Price, the CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, made international headlines last week when he told employees that he will increase the company’s minimum wage to $70,000 for his 120-person company — including the company's 10 workers in Hawaii. Pacific Business News.


Most Honolulu voters don’t want lawmakers to extend Oahu’s 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge to help pay for the city’s cash-strapped 20-mile commuter rail line planned from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, according to the latest Civil Beat poll results.

Efforts to repair and restore the ironwork fence and walls surrounding Iolani Palace are underway. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says the palace and grounds will remain open during the work. Associated Press.

Federal Judge Alan Kay issued a $4.25 million judgment Tuesday against the United States for a botched bariatric gastric bypass surgery for weight loss on a healthy woman at Tripler Army Medical Center in 2010. Star-Advertiser.

The new Aiea Public Library was touted as a state of the art, energy efficient building, but it may not be as “green” as the state says. KHON2.

The 9th Mission Support Command (Pacific Army Reserve) on Tuesday unveiled new signage and conducted a groundbreaking for the newly designated U.S. Army Reserve Daniel K. Inouye Complex at Fort Shafter Flats. Star-Advertiser.

The annual Point in Time Count for the island of Oahu was released Monday and it shows homelessness is still expanding. KITV4.

Mayor Billy Kenoi will present his proposed $434 million budget to the Hawaii County Council today but will not be able to answer questions regarding use of his county credit card for personal expenses, a spokesman said. Tribune-Herald.

Members of the Hawaii County Council agree, for the most part, that it is not the council’s responsibility to involve itself in the controversy surrounding Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of his county-issued credit card for personal expenses. Tribune-Herald.

There was a silver lining in the lava flow emergency that threatened Puna during the past months — an unexpected financial boost for local contractors large and small. Tribune-Herald.

More than 300 people protesting the planned Thirty Meter Telescope marched across Honolulu on Tuesday, delivering demands to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Gov. David Ige and the law firm representing the developer of the massive $1.4 billion project on Mauna Kea. Star-Advertiser.

Hundreds of residents marched to the Hawaii State Capitol on Tuesday to urge the governor to stop the development of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, a Big Island mountain that many Native Hawaiians consider sacred. Civil Beat.

So many people showed up to comment on the Thirty Meter Telescope at Thursday’s University of Hawaii Board of Regents meeting in Hilo, that the board is scheduling a second meeting in Hilo on Sunday to finish public comments. Civil Beat.


Gov. David Ige reached into the internal workings of the Legislature on Tuesday to persuade House lawmakers to delay a vote that could have positioned Maui’s state-owned hospitals to be transformed into a private nonprofit entity. Star-Advertiser.

In an unusual move, Gov. David Ige has intervened in a controversial proposal that would pave the way for the privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center, which lost more than $43 million last year. Civil Beat.

After announcing a staggering $28 million dollar budget gap for Fiscal Year 2016, the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation’s (HHSC) Maui Region is organizing public meetings to take public input on the imminent service and position cuts and to start the reduction in workforce processes. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has intervened in a legislative plan to allow Maui's regional hospitals to be taken over by a private entity. Associated Press.

Gov. David Ige on Tuesday intervened in legislation that would allow Maui hospitals to enter public-private partnerships — an initiative that could break the waves for a similar partnership at Kona Community Hospital. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. David Ige intervened Tuesday just as a controversial bill was set to pass the State House that would allow privatizing the financially struggling Maui Memorial Medical Center and two other smaller hospitals. Hawaii News Now.

The Maui region of the quasi-public body that runs Maui Memorial Medical Center has called a public meeting for Tuesday to discuss cuts in services and personnel to meet a projected $28 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Maui News.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation has awarded Honolulu-based Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. Inc. the $327 million contract to improve roadways and build a consolidated car rental facility at Kahului Airport on Maui after rescinding a contract that had been awarded to Honolulu’s Nan Inc. Pacific Business News.

A Maui minister is behind bars and charged with sexually assaulting a young child. Dennis DeRego fainted in court Tuesday afternoon during a bail hearing while his attorney asked the judge to let him out of jail on supervised release. Hawaii News Now.

West Maui, West Hawaii and Heeia watershed on Oahu have been identified as sites that may be adversely impacted by climate change, and the federal government plans to partner with state and local agencies to develop a plan to make those areas more resilient. Maui News.

Opinion: the County of Maui has been quietly “surveying” about Maui residents on whether they’d like to see the 3-Can curbside recycling project expanded island-wide. MauiTime.


A community group opposing the proposed south side dairy says it has raised enough money to hire experts to assess the environmental impacts the project could have on the area. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Humpback whales could come off endangered species list, 53k sign petition against Thirty Meter Telescope, Most want GMO labeled, Hooser heads to Switerzerland to meet Syngenta, federal agent Deedy may not be tried in murder case, homeless increase, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy NOAA
Humpback whale, courtesy NOAA
Calling now-thriving humpback whales a national success story, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials want to remove most of the species’ populations from the endangered species list, including the 10,000 believed to be breeding and birthing around the Hawaiian Islands. Star-Advertiser.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday proposed removing more than two-thirds of the world’s humpback whales from the endangered species list after 45 years of conservation. Civil Beat.

The federal government on Monday proposed removing most of the world’s humpback whales from the endangered species list, saying the massive mammals have rebounded after 45 years of protections. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries officials want to reclassify humpbacks into 14 distinct populations, and remove 10 of those from the list. Associated Press.

The humpback whales that enter Hawaiian waters each winter to mate and give birth have grown in number at a rate so steady, federal regulators want to shed their status as an endangered species. Garden Island.

Most Hawaii voters support labeling food that contains genetically modified ingredients, according to a new Civil Beat poll. The survey revealed 65 percent of voters think there should be a requirement for GMO labeling, compared with 24 percent of respondents who disagree. Civil Beat.

A group of Hawaii lawmakers wants the state auditor to investigate alleged abuse of sick leave by state corrections officers. Dozens of prison officers have frequently call in sick on holidays and during major sports events. That leaves others officers working overtime to carry the load. Associated Press.

Whether or not e-cigarettes should be considered in the same category as smoking tobacco has become a debate across the country, and Hawaii is no exception. A bill that would ban people from smoking e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited passed the Legislature last week, and now awaits the governor’s approval. It’s one of several anti-smoking bills under consideration, with the rest headed for conference committee to iron out differences between Senate and House versions. Civil Beat.

The cost of airfare to and from Hawaii destinations during the summer months has been falling, while fares to other U.S. cities have remained relatively flat, according to a study by Airlines Reporting Corp., which provides business services to travel agencies. Pacific Business News.


The Honolulu City Council starts discussion Wednesday on a variety of bills aimed at making the property tax system more equitable. The bills are based on recommendations made by the city’s 2014 Real Property Tax Advisory Commission. Star-Advertiser.

There are new fishing rules for Oahu aimed at protecting aquarium fish. According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, there are new daily commercial bag and size limits that apply to aquarium fish such as yellow tang and Moorish idol. There’s also a ban on taking certain butterfly fish. KHON2.

Oahu’s homeless population not only grew in 2015, but a higher percentage are living on the streets rather than in shelters, according to a draft of the latest annual “Point-in-Time Count” for Hono­lulu. The report — based on a count of sheltered homeless on the night of Jan. 25, followed by a five-day count of Oahu’s unsheltered — showed the highest number of homeless people on the island since 2009. Star-Advertiser.

The bankruptcy of a major parking lot concessionaire is costing the state and city of Honolulu more than $6,000 a day in lost revenue. Moana Parking Management LLC filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in Delaware bankruptcy court on Friday, shutting down its parking lot pay stations at the Honolulu Zoo, the Pali Lookout, Diamond Head Crater and Akaka Falls on the Big Island. Hawaii News Now.

The state judge who presided over Christopher Deedy’s two murder trials, which both ended with hung juries, says she will decide this week whether the U.S. State Department special agent will stand trial a third time for fatally shooting Kollin Elderts. Star-Advertiser.

Judge Karen Ahn is expected to make a decision sometime this week on whether all charges will be dropped against Federal Agent Christopher Deedy. Prosecutors want to try him for a third time on the lesser charges of manslaughter and assault. Hawaii News Now.

Is there too much commercial activity at Maunalua Bay in East Oahu? The state wants to hear from the bay’s many stakeholders, so it’s helping to create an advisory committee to get input and answers. KHON2.

More sand is heading to Kailua Beach Park, part of a weeklong sand replenishment project. But, before you can enjoy more sand, you have to deal with fewer parking spots. KITV4.


Vowing to continue a protest that has delayed construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope for weeks, Hawaii island foes of the Mauna Kea project traveled to Oahu on Monday to deliver to Gov. David Ige a petition with more than 53,000 signatures. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff used a traditional greeting Monday when he met members from a group of opponents against building a giant telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea. Members of Mauna Kea Hui and Mauna Kea Ohana crammed into an elevator to ride to the top floor of the state Capitol to hand-deliver to the governor’s office a thumb drive wrapped in red ribbon they said contains 53,000 signatures against building the Thirty Meter Telescope on a mountain considered sacred by Native Hawaiians. Associated Press.

The Mauna Kea Hui took a trip to Oahu on Monday to deliver a petition signed by 53,000 people to Hawaii’s governor calling for an end to the Thirty Meter Telescope project. While there, the group planned to hold a press conference with Honolulu media. The Hui also shared their prepared statement electronically. Big Island Video News.

Lower Puna students who were displaced in October because of the approaching June 27 lava flow will return to their home schools in the fall. Tribune-Herald.


House lawmakers are apparently poised to approve a bill to allow privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center and two other state-owned medical facilities, a move that faces determined resistance from the state’s largest public worker union. Star-Advertiser.

Surface clearing of old munitions and explosives along with construction of educational signs are some of the actions being recommended in a plan to protect the public from hazards in a portion of the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve in Makena. Maui News.

Maui police issued a total of 764 citations to motorists during its recent participation in the National “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign that ran from April 6 to April 18, 2015. Maui Now.


Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser will be among three Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action members who will travel to Switzerland to discuss how the activities of Syngenta, a global Swiss agribusiness, have impacted Kauai. Garden Island.

It’s not every day that the state’s highest court makes its way to Kauai. In fact, legal experts say, it has never happened before. That will change on Thursday when the five sitting state Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments in a nearly four-year-old case that has pit the County of Kauai and Kauai Police Department against the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO), which represents unionized county police employees. Garden Island.


The state Supreme Court denied a request by two Molokai men to have their criminal cases dismissed for charges alleging they boarded a fishing boat from Oahu and threatened those aboard last year. Maui News.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Wealthy taxes to drop, Hawaii voters favor medical marijuana dispensaries, state fails most nursing home standards, more government and political news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii state Capitol, copyright 2015 All Hawaii News
Despite concerns that the state is spending more money than it takes in each year, Gov. David Ige and state lawmakers have quietly opted to allow a $36 million-a-year tax cut to take effect for Hawaii's highest-income residents starting in 2016. Star-Advertiser.

Far more Hawaii voters support establishing medical marijuana dispensaries than just over a year ago, according to a new Civil Beat poll. But voters still oppose legalization of marijuana for recreational use by about the same margin as last year.

The state failed to meet nearly 70 percent of federal performance standards related to inspections of nursing homes and other federally certified health care facilities last year, according to a new evaluation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Star-Advertiser.

Three years ago the state unveiled a $5 million, 1,300-page plan to modernize and trans­form the state's antiquated computer and information technology systems — an initiative that former Gov. Neil Abercrombie praised at the time as a "key initiative" in the administration's New Day Plan. Today, the state's top information technology official is warning lawmakers the plan is so huge that it "was not implementable," and must be revisited to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces to allow state agencies to make a series of far more modest improvements. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Legislature has three weeks left to wrap up all its business for the 2015 session, and most of the major legislation remains undecided. Lawmakers in both chambers have passed bills that would set up a system of medical marijuana dispensaries, solve problems at Hawaii’s financially troubled health insurance exchange and allocate all of the state’s spending. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers are urging state regulators to go along with the Hawaii Consumer Advocate's request to establish a schedule that would complete the regulatory review process of NextEra Energy Inc.'s $4.3 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co. by June 2016. Pacific Business News.

A group of Native Hawaiians wants to bring back a centuries-old island burial practice that it says is more environmentally friendly than some modern interment methods. Associated Press.

The Senate Water and Land Committee voted Friday to recommend that William Balfour be confirmed to a four-year term on the state Water Commission, despite opposition from environmental and Native Hawaiian organizations. The vote was 5-2. Sens. Laura Thielen, Brickwood Galuteria, Les Ihara, Sam Slom and Maile Shimabukuro voted in favor of the nomination. Sens. Russell Ruderman and Gil Riviere voted against it. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige's three nominees to the state Board of Education sailed through a Senate Education Committee hearing Friday. The governor nominated Lance Mizu­moto, president and chief banking officer of Central Pacific Bank; longtime Kauai educator Margaret Cox; and former teacher Hubert Minn to three-year terms on the school board. Star-Advertiser.


Those guiding Oahu's rail transit project are struggling to come up with the cash to finish building the system, but another challenge still looms down the track: How will the island pay for the rail line's operations once it's up and running? Star-Advertiser.


The owner of Puna Geothermal Venture has two weeks remaining to file an answer to a complaint alleging it defrauded the federal government of $13.8 million in stimulus funds to cover an expansion at the plant. Tribune-Herald.

A bill lawmakers passed Friday could soon make it easier for lower Puna residents to obtain property insurance as the June 27 lava flow remains a more distant threat. Tribune-Herald.

New rules governing surf schools — plus other regulations to address overcrowding and conflicting uses — resurfaced at Kahaluu Bay. West Hawaii Today.


A group of East Maui taro farmers, fishermen and gatherers recently filed suit against the state, Alexander & Baldwin and others after learning the state granted revocable permits to allow the company to continue to lease land in East Maui for its stream diversions. Associated Press.

Ten Maui police officers are using body-worn cameras in the field, recording some of their interactions with the public while responding to emergency calls, in a monthlong test of the technology. Maui News.


County transportation planner Lee Steinmetz said a planned transit study, set to kick off in mid-May, will seek “to determine ways to shift transportation modes from automobiles to transit to reduce roadway congestion and parking demand.” Garden Island.

A multi-million dollar project aimed at removing hundreds of invasive trees along a well-traveled section of Kuhio Highway on the North Shore is moving forward. Garden Island.