Thursday, March 7, 2019

Election reform, involuntary psychiatric commitment, fireworks bills advance in Legislature, state auditor cancels rail contract, battle over taxpayer-funded ex-police chief defense, heavy metals found near East Hawaii schools, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy House Majority Office
Keiki day at the Capitol PC:House Majority Office
Keiki rallied at the Capitol Wednesday for children's issues. Advocates rallied at the Capitol Wednesday to support active bills regarding children's health, safety and education in the state Legislature. KHON2.

Hawaii parents, pushing to make it more affordable took their message to the State Capitol Wednesday morning calling on lawmakers to invest in our keiki and make early child care and pre-school available for all families. KITV.


Hawaii’s economic growth expected to rebound. The ongoing slow growth of Hawaii’s economy is expected to pick up slightly this year after easing last year, according to a new state forecast. Star-Advertiser.

Economy Projected To Grow At Slower Pace Than U.S. Average. The latest economic growh report, released today by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, shows the state economy expanded by 0.7 percent from January to September, lower than the 2.8 percent for the U.S. average over the same time period. Hawaii Public Radio.

Read DBEDT's quarterly economic report.


Hawaii lawmakers pass automatic recount, voter registration. Hawaii lawmakers have passed several bills to make it easier to vote and boost confidence in elections. Associated Press.

The State House of Representatives unveiled its election reform bills that crossed over to the Senate. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers in both houses of the Hawaii state Legislature appear ready to approve a proposal which would institute automatic recounts in closely contested elections. The legislation, which will require a constitutional amendment approved by voters, was pushed forward at the Capitol as a reaction to the state Supreme Court being thrust into action following the 2018 general election. Hawaii News Now.

Many Climate Change Bills Are Still Alive, Including A Carbon Tax. At the session’s halfway point, several new measures have support. But some current initiatives will expire if action isn’t taken. Civil Beat.

Fireworks bill targets property owners and allows video evidence. The use of illegal aerial fireworks has sky-rocketed in Hawaii. KHON2.

Bill Focuses On Revolving Door Of Involuntary Psychiatric Treatments. The measure would form a task force to find ways to make emergency mental health admissions more efficient, and better protect the public. Civil Beat.

Changes could make it easier to commit mentally ill to treatment. State lawmakers want to change the law, so that more mentally ill people can be forced into treatment. KITV.

Southwest Airlines has new fuel-efficient planes coming that would allow the carrier to add more destinations to its lineup of flights between Hawaii and the mainland, a spokesman said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.


Kealoha lawyer seeks city funding for fees. An attorney for former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha on Wednesday urged the Police Commission to use taxpayer money to pay for the lawyers representing him in two federal criminal cases. Star-Advertiser.

Deadline approaches for City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro to respond to petition calling for his suspension. 19 days ago, state Attorney General Clare Connors filed a petition for extraordinary with the Hawaii Supreme Court, writing that Kaneshiro should not be allowed to serve as city prosecutor -- at least for the time being -- given his serious conflicts of interest as the target of a federal probe. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii State Auditor has canceled a contract with a company that was supposed to review change orders for the $9.2 billion Honolulu rail project, and it is unclear whether that report will ever be completed. Star-Advertiser.

Federal Probe Has State Looking To Pull Back On Rail Audits. Proposed legislation would repeal the requirement for more audits. But added scrutiny has already led state finance officials to withhold $40 million from HART. Civil Beat.

A rail station was changed to save money. Now, a do-over could cost millions. Hawaii News Now.

The reason for Oahu’s 20% drop in sheltered homeless? Far fewer shelter beds exist. The sharp decrease -- which led to a 4 percent drop in Oahu’s overall homeless population -- is being blamed on the closure of a transitional shelter shelter in West Oahu and on new government regulations that forced the state’s largest homeless service provider to reduce capacity. Hawaii News Now.

State senator films Maili brush fire, police standoff while riding bus. State Sen. Maile Shimbukuro happened to be riding TheBus home from the state Capitol and took photos of the large brush fire as the bus slowly moved through congested traffic. Star-Advertiser.

Business incubator unveiled in Kakaako. The developer of the “Entrepreneur’s Sandbox” held a blessing for the $7.3 million state-owned business incubation center, which was paid for by federal, state and private funding. Star-Advertiser.

Argosy University Students Advised To Prepare For Possible Friday Closing. Hawaii Public Radio.

Argosy University could close as soon as Friday. KHON2.

Oahu home prices make modest February gains. The Honolulu Board of Realtors on Wednesday released sales data that showed roughly 2 percent increases for median sale prices of single-family homes and condominiums last month. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu home sales drop in February as median price posts gains. Home prices on Oahu posted modest gains in February, compared with a year ago, as sales of single-family homes declined by 4 percent and condominium sales dropped by 17 percent, according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Island

The state Department of Education and Department of Health are implementing environmental hazard management plans at 18 East Hawaii schools after a study found elevated levels of contaminants such as lead, arsenic and chlordane in the soil at those facilities. Tribune-Herald.

The Department of Education has found elevated levels of lead, arsenic or chlordane in the soil at 18 of the 23 public schools it tested in eastern Hawaii island, mostly around the perimeters of old buildings. Star-Advertiser.

The Big Island’s only jail is going to get larger, but that’s just to better house its current population of inmates, not increase the inmate population. West Hawaii Today.

Opponents Will Try To Stop Geothermal Plant From Reopening. Even though the power facility damaged by last year’s lava flows is expected to be “operational” by year’s end, it’s facing challenges. Civil Beat.

More than a year after plans surfaced and fizzled for a pilot program to manage surf schools at Kahaluu Bay, businesses are still in the dark about how to get permits to teach wave riding at the popular spot. West Hawaii Today.

Home prices on Hawaii's Big Island jump in February. The median price of a single-family home on the Big Island in February was $382,000, an increase of 18.45 percent from $322,500 in February last year. Sales declined to 152 homes sold, 5 percent fewer than the 160 homes sold in February 2018. Pacific Business News.


Maui County’s state lawmakers were divided over their support of House Bill 1326 as the controversial measure on revocable water permits crossed over to the Senate on Tuesday. Maui News.

More than 15 soon-to-be released or furloughed inmates incarcerated at the Maui Community Correctional Center recently completed approximately 56 hours of workforce industry training from the Office of Extended Learning and Workforce Development at the University of Hawaii Maui College. Maui Now.

Grand Wailea plans appear before design board. Suggestions offered for saving chapel, masking parking structure. Maui News.


Taxis in the terminal. A tentative agreement was recently reached between Lihue Airport administrators and taxi drivers who were threatening to strike if their demands for a curbside presence at the terminal continued to be ignored. Garden Island.

Kauai waits for Southwest flights. Flights to and from Kauai haven’t yet been announced. Tuesday, Southwest Airlines spokesman Brad Hawkins said that’s in the works. Garden Island.

Home sales on Kauai drop in February. There were only 26 single-family homes sold on Kauai last month, a 50.94 percent drop from 53 homes sold in February 2018. The median price of those homes was $689,000, a 4.97 percent decline from $725,000 in February 2018. Pacific Business News.


Maui County wants to hold Molokai event to obtain, renew TWIC credentials. People who pick up shipments at state harbors, such as Kaunakakai Harbor, need to present a TWIC card, and the County of Maui Office of Economic Development is stepping up to offer an event to help people obtain or renew this credential. TWIC stands for Transportation Worker Identification Credential. KHON2.

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