Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Legislative panel mulls more money for jails, universities, tourism; EPA fines Puna Geothermal Ventures; Honolulu council spars over rail tax cap; Kona courthouse out for bid; task force formed to help displaced Maui sugar workers; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii’s overburdened jail facilities could get $45 million for expansion under Gov. David Ige’s supplemental budget proposal. The governor’s plan calls for the Hawaii Department of Public Safety to pump $15 million to each of the three jails on the neighbor islands — the Hawaii Community Correctional Center, the Kauai Community Correctional Center and the Maui Community Correctional Center — to make more room for inmates. On Thursday, members of the House and Senate public safety committees will hold an informational briefing to learn more about the department’s plan for such a move. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers don’t appear eager to deliver the more than $16 million the University of Hawaii says it needs for operations next year. Star-Advertiser.

A bill expected to be introduced in the Hawaii Legislature this year would offer universal long-term care to the state’s senior citizens. Civil Beat.

The state legislative money committees are continuing their pre-session supplemental budget hearings this week. Today, the focus was on business, economic development and tourism. Hawaii Public Radio.

In a move that will likely make it easier for citizens and the media to follow their state government, the Hawaii Legislature plans to launch a video-on-demand channel. Civil Beat.

State Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland wants to tap “the wisdom of the Hawaiian people” to come up with environmentally friendly and low-cost ways to house some of Hawaii’s homeless, possibly in rural, agricultural areas. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers are considering using traditional Native Hawaiian housing to house the homeless. Thatched huts, though they don’t necessarily need to be thatched. KITV4.

A new report by the state breaks down just how much a person needs to earn to live in Hawaii. In 2014 statewide, about 18.5 percent of couples with no children, 45.5 percent of couples with two children, and 45.3 percent of single adults had incomes below the self-sufficiency standard. KHON2.

Hawaiian Airlines employees represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have ratified tentative five-year contracts with the airline. Pacific Business News.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has awarded $500,000 in support of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress to be held in Hawaii later this year. Garden Island.

A presently creeping section of the Aleutian subduction zone fault could potentially generate an earthquake great enough to send a large tsunami across the Pacific to Hawaii according to recent fieldwork in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Garden Island.


Gov. David Ige’s administration hopes to fast-track relocation of the Oahu Community Correctional Center, the state’s largest prison, as public safety officials continue to grapple with perpetual overcrowding and deteriorating conditions. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Council leaders continue to seek a cap on the amount of general excise tax surcharge money that can go toward the construction of the contentious, 20-mile rail transit project. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council Committee on Executive Matters and Legal Affairs adopted a resolution Tuesday to study public electrical utility ownership as a potential alternative to NextEra Energy Inc.’s purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Star-Advertiser.

Two months after obtaining building waivers and exemptions from the Honolulu City Council in exchange for constructing a mostly affordable 45-story residential tower, a Kakaako developer wants to alter the agreement. Star-Advertiser.

The deaths of at least three albatrosses and the destruction of 15 nests at Kaena Point last month may have been caused by teenagers. Hawaii News Now.


The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that Puna Geothermal Venture agreed to pay a civil penalty of $76,500 for chemical safety violations the EPA uncovered in a 2013 inspection. Tribune-Herald.

Puna Geothermal Venture has entered into a consent agreement taking steps to prevent accidental releases of hydrogen sulfide gases and settling safety violations with a fine of $76,500, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Puna Geothermal Venture, the operator of Hawaii’s sole geothermal power plant on the Big Island, has been fined $76,500 for Clean Air Act chemical safety violations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement today with Puna Geothermal Venture for Clean Air Act chemical safety violations that occurred three years ago at the energy plant in Pohoiki. Big Island Video News.


With a proclamation Tuesday from auctioneer Antonio Roldan, a historic North Kona church was saved to continue hosting religious services another day. West Hawaii Today.

The astronomy community in Hawaii has taken its lumps over the past year, from the Native Hawaiian-led rebellion against the Thirty Meter Telescope to the state Supreme Court ruling invalidating the project’s construction. Now the observatory community on Mauna Kea is fighting back. And it begins Saturday. For the first time in its 50-year history, the world-class telescopes on Hawaii’s tallest mountain will be opening their doors to the public for tours. Star-Advertiser.

The Kona Judiciary Complex has been put out for bid, and officials expect to award the $90 million project by the end of March. West Hawaii Today.

A former employee of the county Department of Finance Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division pleaded no contest Tuesday to embezzling from the county. Tribune-Herald.


Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa said Tuesday that his office and Alexander & Baldwin have created a “sugar operators work assistance task force” to aid more than 600 Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar employees who will be displaced by the closure of A&B’s 36,000-acre plantation on Maui. Pacific Business News.

In conjunction with Alexander & Baldwin, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa today announced the creation of a task force to assist Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar employees who will be displaced as the plantation ceases sugar operations and transitions to a diversified agriculture model. Maui News.

A task force organized by Mayor Alan Arakawa has been formed to assist more than 650 Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. workers who will be losing their jobs when the plantation shuts down at the end of the year. Maui News.

The Maui Planning Commission approved a two-year permit extension Tuesday for a construction and demolition landfill in Maalaea, giving the site operators until Feb. 1, 2018, to fill and close the landfill. Maui News.

Maui software developer Code Rebel Corp. could be in for a difficult 2016 as it may come under regulatory scrutiny and investors should be cautious about holding shares of the company, according to a report by hedge fund group Dane Capital Management, LLC. Pacific Business News.

A Honolulu-to-Kapalua route and more direct Mainland flights could be headed Maui's way over the next few years as Hawaiian Airlines expands its fleet and operations, said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines and its parent company, Hawaiian Holdings Inc. Maui News.

The president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines says more flights could be headed to Maui over the next few years as the company expands its fleet and operations. Associated Press.

While shovels met the dirt on the site of the long-awaited high school in Kihei on Monday, the celebration was tempered as state and community officials said that there still is much work to be done. Maui News.


A recent assessment of residential materials disposed at county refuse transfer stations and in refuse carts has prompted officials to issue a reminder about the proper disposal of household hazardous waste. Garden Island.


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