Friday, September 4, 2015

Construction, tourism buoy state coffers, new submarine commander installed, lawmakers to study electric co-op, Honolulu may allow Christmas trees in restaurants, tiff between Honolulu councilman, mayor's aide, Schatz weighs in on TMT, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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State economists Thursday raised Hawaii’s revenue forecast for this fiscal year, which began in July, projecting that lawmakers will have $150 million more in the general fund to operate government services than what was previously expected. Star-Advertiser.

Healthy construction and tourism markets coupled with state tax refunds going out sooner than expected prompted the Hawaii Council on Revenues to upgrade its forecast Thursday for growth in the state’s general fund this fiscal year. The seven-member group of businessmen, accountants and economists voted to increase its forecast for the current year to 6 percent, which translates to roughly $180 million more than expected for the state budget. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Navy on Thursday installed a new commander to lead its submarine force in the Pacific at a time when growing Chinese operations in places like the South China Sea are boosting U.S. demand for the eavesdropping capabilities of the underwater vessels. Associated Press.

China is modernizing its nuclear forces and trying to assert dominance in the East and South China Seas, tensions are continuing between North and South Korea, and Russia needs to be watched in the Pacific. That was the regional environment described by Adm. Cecil Haney, head of U.S. Strategic Command, at a change of command Thursday for a key component in the U.S. defense strategy: the U.S. Pacific Fleet submarine force headquartered at Pearl Harbor. Star-Advertiser.

A group of more than 40 Hawaii state and county lawmakers and other stakeholders have joined forces to explore whether a public utility ownership option is viable as an alternative should the NextEra Energy Inc. $4.3 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co. not go through. Pacific Business News.

Elected officials representing all of the islands want to look at other options instead of a merger of the state’s major electrical provider. Hawaii Public Radio.

Legislators call for a public alternative to NextEra-HECO merger. More than 40 legislators from state and county governments spoke out for a public alternative to the NextEra-HECO merger. Hawaii Independent.

The state Board of Education has approved a school climate and discipline policy that will require public schools to “create an environment where all members are respected, welcomed, supported and feel safe.” Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii is looking to fill four seats on its Board of Regents. The Candidate Advisory Council will run the recruitment process and will accept applications and nominations for two City and County of Honolulu seats, one Hawaii County seat, and one student seat. Pacific Business News.


A Honolulu City Council member has sent a letter to Mayor Kirk Caldwell complaining that the mayor’s chief spokesman disrupted a TV news interview last week to challenge comments he’d made about the mayor. Trevor Ozawa says Communications Director Jesse Broder Van Dyke approached him just before an Aug. 25 interview with KHON reporter Manolo Morales, which was being conducted in a public area at Honolulu Hale. Civil Beat.

A group of Honolulu restaurateurs, hoteliers and merchants wants to change a long-standing but apparently little-known section of the Honolulu Fire Code that bars the display of cut trees, including Christmas trees, in large public gathering places. Star-Advertiser.

Several graves at Sunset Memorial Park are now sinking. The cemetery is under state investigation after families complained about the lack of care of their loved ones’ resting place. KHON2.

A new and unique community that includes low-income rental apartments, an air-conditioned gym, a pool with cabanas and a lounge where residents can use free Wi-Fi and big-screen TVs is coming to life in the urban core of Kapolei. Star-Advertiser.

School A/C debate leads to DOE apology, threat from lawmakers. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii regulators have nixed Hawaiian Electric Co.’s proposed community solar pilot project because it has decided to focus its efforts on establishing a pricing mechanism for a broader version of such a solar program, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.


The official start of construction on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening project began Thursday with a tiny amount of soil moved by oo, the traditional Hawaiian digging tool. West Hawaii Today.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz weighed in on the Thirty Meter Telescope, the proposed acquisition of Hawaii’s electric utilities and a looming vote on the president’s Iran nuclear deal, among other topics, during a legislative update Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

After a two-year hiatus, breakwater lights and navigational buoys are coming back to the Kawaihae Harbor. West Hawaii Today.

Kamehameha Schools is seeking to redesignate 23 acres beneath the former Keauhou Beach Resort to create an educational complex on the Big Island's Kona Coast. Pacific Business News.


For a while in 2013, Maui Film Studios was on an upward trajectory, leasing a warehouse at the Maui Lani Village Center, outfitting it with a 21,000-square-foot sound stage, lining up film and TV projects and getting ready to be a player in Hawaii's growing film industry. Maui News.

Do you think Maui County ought to encourage industrial hemp farming? Do you have an opinion on people smoking at bus stops? Then you might want to check out Friday’s Maui County Council meeting. MauiTime.


A California-based charter school’s application to establish a branch on Kauai was recently denied by the Hawaii State Charter School Commission.  The international Leadership Entrepreneurial Development Arts Design school, or iLEAD, has now presented a proposal for a school on Kauai that has been turned down twice. Garden Island.

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