Friday, February 10, 2017

Legislature mulls free tuition, taxing REITs, Ige appoints campaign manager as judge, Honolulu rail tax falters, Machado returns as OHA chair, Ward Warehouse coming down, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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University of Hawaii at Manoa © 2017 All Hawaii News
Two bills that would appropriate millions for low-income students to attend University of Hawaii schools cleared their first hurdle at a House Higher Education Committee hearing Thursday. Civil Beat.

Mainland Students Could Be An ‘Economic Driver’ For Hawaii. Some lawmakers want the University of Hawaii to attract more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition as well as diversify the campuses. Civil Beat.

Hawai’i’s top economic drivers, tourism and the military, are at or near capacity. But the state has a plan to expand the economy in innovation, the fastest growing sector.  Hawaii Public Radio.

End tax breaks for REITs, real estate investment trusts, local firms urge Legislature. Star-Advertiser.
Former state workers face long wait for payouts despite hefty payroll upgrade. KHON2.

Promising to bring stability to a panel beset with dissension, Colette Machado of Molokai on Thursday was elected chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees. Star-Advertiser.

Colette Machado has returned to the seat of power at a state agency supporting Native Hawaiians. In related news, Abigail Kawananakoa filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the employment of OHA CEO Kamanao’pono Crabbe. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's attorney general wants to add a new plaintiff to the state's lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's travel ban on people from seven mostly Muslim countries: Ismail Elshikh, the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, whose mother-in-law is a Syrian national living in Syria. Associated Press.

Lawmakers are considering adding to the list of illnesses that qualify for the legal use of medical marijuana as the state’s first dispensaries prepare to open in a few months. Star-Advertiser.

A third Hawaii medical marijuana contractor received state approval today to begin legally growing pakalolo. Star-Advertiser.

Dignitaries from Hawaii and Japan gathered at the Kaka'ako Waterfront Park on Thursday to remember those who lost their lives when a U.S. submarine collided with the Japanese ship Ehime Maru. Nine people were killed in the 2001 collision - including 4 teenage students. KITV.

Hundreds of corrections officers called in sick on the day of the NFL’s annual championship game. KHON2.

Oahu

Gov. David Ige announced three appointments to Oahu’s Circuit Court on Thursday, one of whom is his former campaign manager Keith Hiraoka, who resigned from that post last month when he found out that he had been chosen as a candidate by the Judicial Selection Commission. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige has appointed his former campaign manager, Keith Hiraoka, to fill the 1st Circuit Court seat that Judge Karen Ahn vacated when she retired in June. Civil Beat.

In an unusual move, two state Senate committees on Thursday elected to not vote on that chamber’s primary “vehicle” for funding the over-budget Honolulu rail project. Instead, the measure will be so heavily amended that it will require another public hearing. Civil Beat.

A measure that would extend the half percentage point general excise tax surcharge for the city's rail project is still alive, but with several changes and additions. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell will sign a bill into law providing TheBus riders the option to purchase a one-day pass. Hawaii News Now.

The wrecking ball now has a firm date with Ward Warehouse. Property owner Howard Hughes Corp. has informed the Kakaako retail complex’s roughly 60 tenants that they must vacate in August to make way for residential tower development. Star-Advertiser.

Bicyclists love new bike lane on McCully while residents struggle for parking. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu is the best place in the United States to be a Realtor, according to a recent study by WalletHub. Pacific Business News.

A group representing survivors of sexual abuse and an organization representing the LGBTQ community are urging Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell to rescind his appointment of Marc Alexander to lead the city Office of Housing. Civil Beat.

Disney, Marvel Studios and IMAX are planning to develop a headquarters for Marvel’s next major project — a feature film and ABC television series “Marvels The Inhumans” — in a former Navy facility in Hawaii, the head of the state’s film commission confirmed to Pacific Business News this week.

Hawaii

Mayor Kim Wants To Reduce Two Percent Land Fund. Harry Kim would like to cut the amount set aside for public land purchases by half. Big Island Video News.

Mayor Harry Kim spent Wednesday evening at the Ocean View Community Center quelling wave after wave of frustration from an animated crowd of roughly 60 residents, many of whom feel the county has left them behind. West Hawaii Today.

Two lawmakers want to increase safety at a popular Puna swimming spot and vet the feasibility of a harbor at Kapoho Bay. Tribune-Herald.

With a county voucher program set to expire at the end of next month, Hawaii Island legislators once again are hoping to secure state funding that would help residents combat invasive little fire ants. Tribune-Herald.

The Hakalau Bridge on Old Mamalahoa Highway will be closed starting at 5 p.m. Friday because of public safety concerns, the county Department of Public Works said Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

A Kona District Court judge has disqualified himself from hearing the case of Sean “Peaman” Pagett, who was cited Christmas Day for running an unpermitted race at Kailua Pier. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

For many homeless people, the easiest place to turn for health care is often the emergency room, said Carol Petith-Zbiciak, doctor of nursing practice at the University of Hawaii Maui College. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai Humane Society is among the animal welfare advocates descending upon the Hawaii Capitol today for Humane Lobby Day at the Legislature. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council on Wednesday unanimously deferred a proposal to establish pedestrian access and parking easements in Koloa. Garden Island.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is opening its sixth restaurant in Hawaii and first on Kauai at The Shops at Kukuiula on the island’s South Shore, the owner of the shopping complex confirmed to Pacific Business News Thursday.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

New records show U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met twice with Syria's Assad, homeless campgrounds touted for Honolulu, Legislature mulls rent control, Styrofoam ban, public records backlog increases, economy to slow, state seeks help with pension fund, DLNR officer rape trial begins, OHA audit approved, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard © 2017 All Hawaii News
Gabbard met Syria’s Assad twice, filings reveal. Immediately after touching down in Damascus, Syria, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was off to an hour and a half meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad — a meeting she described as impromptu upon her return to the United States last month — according to travel forms she filed on Wednesday with the U.S. House Ethics Committee. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s amended travel forms show that she spent one and a half hours with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Civil Beat.

The state expects Hawaii’s economy in 2017 to grow at the slowest pace in four years but projects that visitor arrivals will top 9 million for the first time ever. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Employee Retirement System, which is underfunded and overcommitted by more than $12 billion, is looking for a real estate investment consultant to review the performance of its real estate managers and the overall program, Pacific Business News has learned.

The state Office of Information Practices favors government agencies in disputes and takes too long to resolve complaints over access to public records and meetings, according to a new report by The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers consider statewide Styrofoam ban for food vendors. KITV.

State Sen. Glenn Wakai delivered a scolding to the leadership of the Hawaii Tourism Authority Wednesday for what he characterized as excessive spending by the agency, but Wakai said he is dropping his earlier proposal to prohibit the HTA from meeting in secret to discuss proprietary information. Star-Advertiser.

Rent control proposal takes aim at Hawaii’s sky-high housing costs. KHON2.

Hawaii Rep. Kaniela Ing wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would set up a pilot project for rent control. Civil Beat.

A measure introduced by State Rep. Kaniela Ing of Maui for a “rent control” pilot project will be heard in the House Committee on Housing, Feb. 9 at 9 a.m. at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol in room 423. Maui Now.

An Office of Hawaiian Affairs committee is taking the first step toward the most comprehensive financial audit in the agency's nearly 40-year history. The board's resource management committee voted Wednesday to authorize putting out a call for independent accounting firms that could conduct the audit. It's not yet known how much it will cost. Associated Press.

A proposed study of the over-representation of Native Hawaiians in the criminal justice system was put on hold by Hawaii lawmakers last week, partly because of wariness over the current political climate. Star-Advertiser.
 
Libraries Struggle With A New Role: Social Services Center. Hawaii provides library security guards, but so far bucks the trend of training employees to better serve patrons with special needs. Civil Beat.

A state House committee on Tuesday passed two bills that would allow the state to collect more tax revenue from Hawaii’s proliferating vacation rental and bed-and-breakfast properties while the counties figure out how to regulate them. Associated Press.

An ongoing NASA study of Earth and its ecosystems finally has landed in the islands, with dozens of scientists focusing their attention on a couple of high-profile natural phenomena Hawaii is famous for: corals and volcanoes. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

State lawmakers are considering bills to create official campgrounds for the homeless in Honolulu, an approach that is being strongly opposed by state Homelessness Coordinator Scott Morishige and the state Department of Human Services. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers are exploring setting up “safe zones” for homeless people to camp, one of an array of offbeat solutions to its homelessness crisis which ranks worst in the nation. Associated Press.

Two Hawaii state legislators say they plan to seek answers and perhaps push for reopening the case of a Honolulu toddler whose near-fatal assault never resulted in criminal charges, as detailed in a Civil Beat story on Wednesday.

This Honolulu Toddler Nearly Died In An Assault But No Charges Filed. The Honolulu Police Department investigation, focused on the family of a police officer, fell short of best practices, experts say. Civil Beat.

‘Rare’ Request Seeks To Hide Criminal Case Involving Allegedly Corrupt Cop  From Honolulu Prosecutor. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu Police Commission bypassed Honolulu Police Department brass in authorizing a $250,000 severance check to outgoing Police Chief Louis Kealoha from what appears to be HPD money, but the commission chairman said the panel followed the law in doing so. Star-Advertiser.

The Kapalama Canal in Kalihi is projected to get a big makeover. Hawaii News Now.

A panel of Honolulu City Council members debated a bill Wednesday to make Honolulu’s plastic bag regulations more stringent, but decided to delay action until stakeholders can come up with a better method to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags when grocery shopping. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu Family Justice Center, a safe haven for domestic violence, sex assault and human trafficking victims, opened its doors in November. But so far, only three women have stayed there. Hawaii News Now.

A program designed to keep hundreds of kids safe and off the streets isn’t happening because of ongoing problems at a Makiki recreation center. KHON2.

There's a battle brewing over what the University of Hawaii should do with the former home of PBS Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Sex assault trial of Department of Lands and Natural Resources officer begins. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii County Council on Wednesday unanimously accepted a public access trail and unpaved roadway from developers of a North Kohala parcel, despite the advice of Corporation Counsel Joe Kamelamela, who said county code requires the administration to inspect the property before taking it over. West Hawaii Today.

An upcoming $20.1 million project will bring traffic lights and turn lanes to two intersections on Kawailani Street in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

On Tuesday, the Hawaii County Council Committee on Public Works and Parks and Recreation was given an update on all the parks projects, completed and ongoing, around the Big Island. Big Island Video News.

The U.S. Coast Guard boarded two vessels operating illegal lava tours from the Pohoiki Boat Ramp between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The Maui County Board of Ethics deferred action Wednesday on a complaint against Maui County Council Chairman Mike White. Maui News.

Lawmakers are pushing several bills that aim to free up beds at Maui Memorial Medical Center by moving costly long-term care patients into other health care facilities. Star-Advertiser.

Maui Beach Hotel has cut back employee hours and lost its trademark ’80s dance night after losing its liquor license for the first time in July. Maui News.

Paia businessman Michael Baskin has paid Maui County the $190,000 balance of the largest fine ever levied by the Department of Planning, department Director Will Spence said Tuesday. Maui News.

Kauai

On Wednesday, the Kauai County Council unanimously passed Bill No. 2644, which allows the county to purchase 32 units built in the first phase of Hooluana at Kohea Leo, located at the intersection of Kuhio and Kapule highways. Garden Island.

Several lawmakers are voicing their support for the Hawaii Dairy Farms’ plan to operate a 699-cow dairy in Kauai’s Mahaulepu Valley. Garden Island.

The Navy plans to develop a a major solar farm and battery energy storage system on nearly 200 acres at the 2,134-acre Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on the west side of the island of Kauai. Pacific Business News.

Short-term rental advocates say millions added to economy. Garden Island.

Lanai

Billionaire Larry Ellison is moving ahead with his project to develop a place for helicopters to land near one of the two luxury Four Seasons resorts he owns on the island of Lanai, Pacific Business News has learned.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Federal court stays Hawaii Trump travel ban lawsuit; Coast Guard cites unauthorized lava boat tours; state Legislature tackles tax hikes, fines, vacation rentals, pesticides, homeless, invasive species; Ellison seeks permission for Lanai parties, Dunkin’ Donuts returning, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii driving © 2017 All Hawaii News
Hawaii drivers be on alert: State lawmakers are considering huge increases to the fines for at least six different motor vehicle violations ranging from cellphones and seat belts to excessive speed and drunken driving. Civil Beat.

A federal judge in Honolulu is suspending Hawaii's lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries. Associated Press.

The federal court has granted an emergency motion to put on hold Hawaii’s lawsuit against the Trump administration, a decision that will remain in place as long as a nationwide stay on President Donald Trump’s travel ban is in effect. Civil Beat.

State's Lawsuit Against Trump Stayed. Hawaii Public Radio.

Audit: Some Department of Education Employees Still Start Work Before Being Cleared. A new report reveals that hiring practices for some employees have gotten worse, not better, in the past four years. Civil Beat.

Bills to Use Medicaid Funds for Homeless Rent Payments Advance in the Legislature. Hawaii Public Radio.

State lawmakers look at locations for homeless campers this legislative session, including allowing camping in private yards and driveways. KITV.
Isle caregivers relate financial, health pain in calling on state for aid. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers are exploring a measure that would implement a wholesale tax on nicotine e-cigarettes and related products that would likely be passed on to retailers and consumers. Hawaii News Now.

A Hawaii House committee on Tuesday passed two bills that would allow the state to collect more tax revenue from the state's proliferating vacation rental and bed-and-breakfast properties while the state's counties figure out how to regulate them. Associated Press.

Two bills designed to let vacation rental companies, such as Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway, collect taxes on behalf of those who rent out short-term accommodations on those platforms were heard by the state House Tourism Committee on Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

A bill that would give counties more authority for invasive species management passed through the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection Tuesday. Garden Island.

Six pesticide-related bills passed through the House Committees on Agriculture and on Energy and Environmental Protection Tuesday. Garden Island.

New bill aims to hold local animal shelters accountable to treatment. KHON2.

As promised, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has paid for her recent trip to the Middle East out of her own pocket, records show. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Airlines and its pilots union have reached a tentative agreement on a six-year contract that will increase the wages for some of its pilots by as much as 40 percent the first year and 2 to 3 percent in subsequent years. Star-Advertiser.

BNP Paribas raised $800 million from its secondary offering of First Hawaiian Inc. stock, selling 25 million of its shares in First Hawaiian Bank’s holding company at $32 a piece. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

Hawaii lawmakers plan to consider a bill Wednesday to require the Navy to upgrade aging underground fuel storage tanks at Red Hill by July 2027 or shut down the facility by July 2030. Civil Beat.

No more surprises — that’s the goal for the new head of the Honolulu rail project. KHON2.

City officials are seeking input on preliminary designs for a park and other improvements along the Kapalama Canal as part of transit-oriented development efforts. Star-Advertiser.

A Honolulu City Council committee has approved a resolution asking the city to maintain Thomas Square as a public park. Civil Beat.

Homeless living under Makiki bridge draw safety concerns. The camp sits underneath the Anapuni Street bridge near Wilder Avenue. Hawaii News Now.

The man who left a state government job dealing with homelessness five years ago is now working for the city government on the same issue. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is hiring former state homeless director Marc Alexander to lead the city Office of Housing. Civil Beat.

A former industrial site near Honolulu Airport is slated to soon become a destination for doughnuts, coffee, pancakes, snacks and gasoline as part of a retail development project that will re-establish Dunkin’ Donuts in Hawaii after a more than 10-year absence. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County spent more than $280,000 on overtime costs to rush completion of the Hilo Municipal Golf Course and Ka‘u gym projects, Parks Director Charmaine Kamaka told County Council members Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

A plan to preserve the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is slowly moving forward, as the county awaits its pending sale before moving to purchase a conservation easement. West Hawaii Today.

The state has appealed a judge’s order requiring the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to hold a contested case hearing on the sublease between the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the Thirty Meter Telescope. Star-Advertiser.

After several years on the drawing board, a planned shopping center in Pahoa is expected to begin construction next month. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii-based Cellana is partnering with Living Ink Technologies to develop sustainable algae inks. Pacific Business News.

As the lava “fire hose” at the Kamokuna ocean entry continues to thrill visitors at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, authorities are noticing an increase in unlicensed tour operators who visit the spectacle by boat. Big Island Video News.

Maui

A pair of bills in the state Legislature aim to keep affordable rents at the Front Street Apartments in Lahaina from rising to market rates in 2019. Maui News.

Alexander & Baldwin has sold a 339-acre parcel in Paia to a California businessman for nearly $10 million. Hawaii News Now.

Maui cultural leaders say they were shocked to see county contractors truck tons of what they consider sacred rocks out of Iao Valley recently, as part of repairs in the area following September's major flooding. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai

A network of trained responders seeks to discover how and why whales become entangled, how it affects the individual and the population as a whole, and response methods. Garden Island.

Lanai

Billionaire Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, who is the majority owner of the Hawaiian Island of Lanai, plans to hold up to 40 special events hosting hundreds of guests each year on two locations at the golf course he owns on the Pineapple Island, Pacific Business News has learned.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Taxes for teachers; Legislature mulls polystyrene food container ban, drone restrictions, affordable housing bonds, extending rail tax; Molokai mule rides may shut down, Kauai bridge uproar, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii State Teachers Association 012717
Hawaii State Teachers Association Jan. 21, 2017 Honolulu rally
A number of bills to tax investors and tourists to improve public education are advancing through the Legislature. Hawaii Public Radio.

After postponing making a decision last Friday, a House committee Monday amended and passed two measures that would use taxes to provide more funding for public schools in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Scheduled for a joint committee hearing Wednesday, Senate Bill 1109 would ban food vendors from using styrofoam and other polystyrene containers. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are advancing an assortment of bills this year to begin collecting state excise taxes that are owed for online sales of retail products, a step that one lawmaker estimates might haul in an extra $80 million a year for the state treasury. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii usually budgets tens of millions of dollars annually to subsidize affordable housing development, but Sen. Will Espero wants to increase that to $2 billion to tackle the state’s severe housing shortage. Civil Beat.

State supports increasing fines from $250 to $750 for distracted driving. KHON2.

Hawaii lawmakers are working to tackle the thorny issue of how to regulate drones again this year but have already sidelined one bill while acknowledging that a second measure will likely morph into a permanent working group to further study the issue. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers are considering new restrictions for drones that they say are aimed at helping keep the skies safe. Hawaii News Now.

A new Hawaii bill would add penalties and increase the amount of electric vehicle parking spaces shopping malls and other places would need to dedicate at their respective properties. Pacific Business News.

Legislation introduced Friday would prohibit registered lobbyists from serving on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees. But there’s only one target of the bill at this point: Keli‘i Akina. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai representatives have introduced a bill that seeks a stricter sentence for people found guilty of family abuse of keiki. Garden Island.

Representative Beth Fukumoto is weighing whether to stay in Hawai‘i’s Republican Party. It’s a decision that has brought her the attention of national media. Hawaii Public Radio.

The federal court has approved a final settlement in a landmark lawsuit over the religious rights of Native Hawaiian inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center, an Arizona prison where about 1,700 Hawaii prisoners are housed. Civil Beat.

President Donald Trump Seeks To Put Hawaii Case On Hold. The Trump administration says Hawaii’s challenge of travel ban should wait until a mainland case is resolved. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Key Hawaii state senators are moving against the deal proposed last week that would extend Oahu’s rail tax in exchange for the city relinquishing a share of those rail dollars to the state for neighbor island projects. Star-Advertiser.

Rail Tax Surcharge Measures Face Big Votes This Week. The measures before Hawaii Senate panels call for extending the general excise tax hike on Oahu and returning the state’s skim to the city. Civil Beat.

A state senator held a town hall meeting, Monday night, to address the traffic tie up that left drivers stuck for hours, as they headed toward Hawaii Kai on the H-1. KITV.

A fraud and misspending investigation launched in 2013 at Kaiser High School ended years later without anyone being charged. But now players on both sides of that case are in the middle of an education shakeup. KHON2.

The city finally has come up with proposed new rules to crack down on the illegal vending that’s gone on at Oahu beach parks for decades. Civil Beat.

A new Hawaii bill would provide a major boost to the untapped potential of hydroelectricity on Oahu by pumping millions of dollars into a project that would utilize the Nuuanu reservoir in Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

The solar industry continues to dim as the number of solar energy system permits issued on Oahu in January was cut in half from the same period last year. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The state Department of Transportation will begin swapping out speed limit signs on Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, starting today. Tribune-Herald.

A new, increased speed limit is about to take effect on Saddle Road, also known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Big Island Video News.

Another piece of a North Kohala shoreline trail is set to fall into place Wednesday, when the County Council plans to take up resolutions granting pedestrian and vehicle access. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A pilot project to offset carbon emissions and restore forests around Kahikinui has been proposed by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Maui News.

Abandoned building full of history. A lone two-story cement building standing in the middle of a field on the West Maui Mountains side of Mokulele Highway is a curious but familiar sight for passers-by. Maui News.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is seeking to fill seven primary and alternate seats on its advisory council, according to an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maui News.

Kauai

Public outcry over the construction of a $2.7 million, 20-ton bridge Keahua Stream on Kuamoo Road, in an area known as “loop road,” has sparked another public meeting on Kauai about the project. Garden Island.

A health facility, school buildings, affordable housing and park improvements are on the list of capital improvement projects Kauai legislators say are necessary for financing. Garden Island.

A pair of bills related that would change Hawaii law in response to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s “quiet title” actions filed against owners of small pieces of land, or kuleana lands, within his 700-acre oceanfront property on Kauai continue to move ahead in the state Legislature. Pacific Business News.

A next-generation guided missile with ramifications for the protection of Hawaii on Friday successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target west of the Hawaiian Islands in the first such shoot-down attempt, demonstrating a greater defensive capability for the United States and Japan, which jointly developed the missile.  Star-Advertiser.

Surfrider, DOH zero in on Moloa‘a Stream: A distinct odor saturates the area around Moloaa Bay during heavy rains, and it smells like sewage, according to area residents. Garden Island.

Molokai

A popular Molokai mule tour is on the verge of shutting down after more than 40 years in operation. Kalaupapa Rare Adventures guides visitors on mule rides down a 1,600-foot cliff to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula. Hawaii News Now.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Hawaii Legislature mulls decriminalizing prostitution, lawmaker seeks 'urine-free' zones, Air Force wants Kauai missile testing to resume, Honolulu train woes intensify, Kim may scrap compost plan, Maui airport expansion plan, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Capitol © 2017 All Hawaii News
Hawaii lawmakers plan to tackle bills on for-profit universities, bathroom vandals and renewable energy in the upcoming week at the Legislature. Associated Press.

Complaints from residents and visitors about urine and feces left in public places have prompted state Rep. Gene Ward to introduce a measure to impose fines of up to $2,000 for repeat offenders who relieve themselves in certain spots. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution in the state after the speaker of the House introduced a bill that would also legalize buying sex and acting as a pimp. Associated Press.

A proposed law to require candidates for U.S. president and vice president to make their tax returns public before they can qualify for the ballot in Hawaii might turn out to be unconstitutional, and lawmakers are putting the issue on hold for the moment. Star-Advertiser.

Rep. Nicole Lowen of Kona’s 6th District has introduced a bill this session that would cap initial prescriptions for highly addictive opioids and benzodiazepines at seven consecutive days. West Hawaii Today.

Should Hawaii Become A Sanctuary State? Some elected officials and community activists are working to position Hawaii to better help people affected by Trump’s immigration policies. Civil Beat.

UH scientists ready to blaze a trail in microbiome quest. Star-Advertiser.

The state Public Charter School Commission is not fully meeting its statutory duties, in part because it lacks a strategic vision, a recently completed investigation by the Board of Education has found. Star-Advertiser.

A recent report reveals more Native Hawaiians die from cancer each year than any other ethnic group in Hawaii. KITV.

Nearly six years after the earthquake and tsunami event that devastated Fukushima, Japan, debris continues to wash up on Hawaiian beaches. Tribune-Herald.

Commentary: In Hawaii, it has become established practice that the Republicans murder their young attractive candidates. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

With rail facing its gravest fiscal crisis yet, a local cadre that once advocated bringing the elevated transit system down to street level in town is reviving that idea — and it’s taking its pitch directly to state lawmakers. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Rapid Transit---Maybe a Bus? Hawaii Public Radio.

Years after high-profile school shakeup at Kaiser High, details finally come to light. KHON2.

Oahu's construction market is operating at a blistering pace. That has some contractors cutting corners — and the fines are piling up. Hawaii Public Radio.

Construction of the long-awaited Nanakuli Public Library is expected to be finished by the end of summer, state officials say. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Pacific University is moving forward with plans to add more dorms and a student dining facility in downtown Honolulu. Hawaii News Now.

The PBS television home improvement show "Ask This Old House" will film in Hawaii for the first time for an episode that includes segments with a local woodworker and Oahu’s Mao Organic Farms. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Mayor Harry Kim says he is looking to scrap plans for a $10.3 million composting facility, citing concerns about its cost. Tribune-Herald.

Hopes are high in the Hawaiian homestead community of Pana’ewa that the county will cancel the contract for the planned East Hawaii Organics Facility. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii County police misconduct continues to remain relatively low, with two officers fired and eight others suspended without pay last year, according to an annual report released Thursday. West Hawaii Today.

The Counsel and Advocate representing the Hawaiian Kingdom in a recently initiated international fact finding proceeding spoke to a small audience at a Puna home on Friday evening. Big Island Video News.

Researchers say they need additional funding to learn more about a rapidly spreading fungus that has been killing native ohia trees on Hawaii’s Big Island. Associated Press.

Maui
The main runway at Kahului Airport would be extended by about 1,500 feet to 8,530 feet to accommodate fully loaded aircraft with direct reach to the Midwest, according to a recently completed update of the Kahului Airport Master Plan. Maui News.

New management is taking over the state-owned, dryland boat and trailer storage at Mala Wharf where a Lahaina man paid the state a fraction of its generated revenue and operated it for 35 years, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Maui News.

Well before dawn each morning, throngs of tourists from around the world make their way to Maui’s tallest peak, a dormant volcano, to see what Mark Twain called the “sublimest spectacle” he ever witnessed. Associated Press.

Kauai

The Air Force wants to bring its weapons testing program back to the Pacific Missile Range Facility and a public comment period on the program closes Monday. Garden Island.

The fate of a bill that will give the county ownership over units in an affordable housing development will be decided Wednesday. Garden Island.

Forcing kamaaina families to sell their ancestral lands has been a provocative issue in Hawaii for more than a century, and that’s not changing just because the billionaire leader of Facebook has quit his litigation to acquire such land on Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

A property at the Kukuiula Development on Kauai’s South Shore recently sold for nearly $5 million to a descendant of a Cincinnati bank president, while another property in the master-planned luxury golf community was sold to a former Montana state senator, Pacific Business News has learned.

The Garden Isle has a new district court judge. Michael Soong was sworn into office on Jan. 3.  Garden Island.

Coco Palms to be restored by 2018. Garden Island.

Invasive parakeets are ruining crops and eliciting complaints from people on Kauai. Invasive species experts estimate the population has grown to more than 5,000 rose-ringed parakeets on the island. Associated Press.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hawaii residents healthy, fewer airline seats but more tourists, OHA board ousts chairwoman, Health Department violated records act in redactions, Oahu jail costly, lava shelf collapses, turning Maui sugarcane fields to coffee, Waikoloa garbage gasification advances, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii hikers © 2017 All Hawaii News
For the second year in a row, Hawaii has been named the state with the healthiest residents, in terms of mind and body, according to the 2016 State of Well-Being Rankings report released by Gallup and wellness provider Healthways Inc. Pacific Business News.

The state's economist says a slight decline in the number of seats on flights to Hawaii will likely slow tourism industry growth. Associated Press.

Airfares are expected to increase in 2017 as a result of decreased air capacity, according to travel experts that spoke at a conference Thursday of the Pacific Asia Travel Association and the Travel and Tourism Research Association. Pacific Business News.

Key Hawaii lawmakers are hoping to secure $3.5 million annually over the next two years to continue a program that has been credited with helping hundreds of families in the past year escape or avoid homelessness. Star-Advertiser.

Circuit Court Judge Karen Nakasone ruled Thursday the state Health Department violated the state open records law by blacking out large portions of inspection reports for a Honolulu nursing home before it made the documents public. Civil Beat.

A state Senate committee on Thursday gave police more power to seize guns from potentially dangerous people. But lawmakers also softened the consequences for people who fail to register their guns as required by law. Civil Beat.

Senator: Police Union Wrong On Domestic Violence Bill. Sen. Laura Thielen took issue with a SHOPO attorney who testified the union contract takes precedence over state law. Civil Beat.

Marijuana use has risen slightly among Hawaii workers, a quarterly report shows. Star-Advertiser.

After two months of drama and infighting, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees on Thursday ousted Rowena Akana as chairwoman and elevated Vice Chairwoman Lei Ahu Isa to the top spot on an interim basis. Star-Advertiser.

OHA Infighting Continues As Chairwoman Rowena Akana Is Ousted. Lei Ahu Isa takes over as the acting chair. She is the third trustee to lead the troubled board in three months. Civil Beat.

The state’s Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi has a new replacement. Keith Hayashi has accepted the offer to serve as deputy superintendent through the remainder of Matayoshi’s term. Garden Island.

The Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission today issued a reminder to the public that its enforcement officers continue to be on the road at unannounced times statewide to ensure that motor carriers are in compliance with state laws and rules. Maui Now.

Commentary: Everybody is wondering about Tulsi Gabbard. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Replacing Hawaii’s largest jail might cost $673 million, although that price tag could be reduced by hundreds of millions of dollars if lawmakers and prison officials choose a less expensive, low-rise design, according to preliminary estimates in a report from consultants hired to plan and design the proposed facility. Star-Advertiser.

The price tag for building a new jail to replace the crumbling Oahu Community Correctional Center could reach anywhere from $433 million to $673 million, according to a team of consultants hired by the Hawaii Department of Public Safety. Civil Beat.

The state of Hawaii is taking more money than justified out of a general excise tax surcharge for Honolulu’s troubled rail project, according to a University of Hawaii report released Thursday. Civil Beat.

A $250,000 severance check was delivered to Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his attorneys sometime in the last week, as stipulated in Kealoha’s retirement agreement with the Police Commission, Commission Chairman Max Sword told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Thursday.

About a dozen Honolulu police officers were disciplined last year — including two who were discharged — for their handling of an investigation into a fellow officer who accidentally shot a woman in the stomach while he was at a bar. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz and Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer have introduced legislation that would exempt employees of Navy public shipyards from President Donald Trump’s federal hiring freeze. Pacific Business News.

Public Navy shipyards, including the Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard, will be exempt from President Donald Trump’s federal hiring freeze. Star-Advertiser.

The question of whether Honolulu can pursue a third trial against Christopher Deedy, a federal agent from the mainland who fatally shot local resident Kollin Elderts in 2011, is now in the hands of the Hawaii Supreme Court. Civil Beat.

Five state Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments Thursday on whether to allow a third trial of Christopher Deedy, who as an off-duty federal agent shot and killed Kollin Elderts, a 23-year-old Kailua man, at a McDonald’s in Waikiki on Nov. 5, 2011. Star-Advertiser.

It’s illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks in a number of areas across Oahu. Honolulu’s mayor is looking to expand the ban to more areas on the island. KHON2.

The state Department of Health has cited Island Recycling Inc. for failing to comply with its permit to prevent polluted stormwater discharges at two of the company’s facilities. Star-Advertiser.

The push to change Dole Street’s name back to its original Hawaiian name has ended, at least for now. Hawaii News Now.

Robert Kekaula and Paula Akana have been named weeknight 6 and 10 p.m. news anchors at KITV effective Feb. 13, the station announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The entire section of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sea cliff that was seaward of the hot crack collapsed, scientists say. The moment was partially caught on video. Big Island Video News.

A dramatic “fire hose” of lava entering the ocean from Hawaii island has ended, for now at least, with the collapse of a nearby sea cliff, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii County Planning Department has given its stamp of approval on a waste-to-energy plant in Waikoloa that could reduce the garbage headed to the landfills while providing natural gas for Kohala coastal resorts. West Hawaii Today.

TMT International Observatory’s sublease payments are on hold following a court order requiring a contested case for the agreement with the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Hilo Medical Center will soon solve two key medical-specialist shortages in East Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

The Big Island Abalone Corporation announced Thursday it is seeking a new investor for its farm at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. West Hawaii Today.

Prominent Hilo-born business and community leader Fred J. Koehnen died at home Wednesday following an illness. He was 92. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The state House Committee on Agriculture will hear a bill this morning to help MauiGrown Coffee expand its West Maui plantation to fallow sugar cane lands and to create jobs for displaced Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. workers. Maui News.

The way vehicles access Iao Valley State Monument “could be substantially different” once the park reopens in the summer, state Department of Land and Natural Resources officials said Wednesday evening. Maui News.

A close call at Maui's Kahului Airport. Federal Aviation Administration officials say a small plane took off without clearance from Runway 5 as a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 took off from Runway 2. KITV.

A pilot turned a Hawaiian Airlines interisland jet to avoid a smaller plane that took off without clearance Wednesday morning at Kahului Airport, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman. Maui News.

Kauai

Denver oil and gas executive Gary Stewart, who owns about 80 acres of land next door to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's 700-acre oceanfront estate on Kauai’s North Shore, bought out one of the small landowners within his larger parcel but has no plans to buy out the other one, he confirmed to Pacific Business News Thursday.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is investigating the source of coffee plants found at a Home Depot on Kauai earlier this week. Garden Island.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

One of only six GOP legislators ousted as House minority leader after criticizing Trump, may switch parties; first two marijuana dispensaries get OK to grow; Legislature mulls police cameras, gun silencers; Maui man charged with threats to mayor; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Facebook photo
Opening day Olelo interview of Rep. Beth Fukumoto, Facebook photo
The six lone Republicans in the state Legislature ousted their leader today in a House Resolution vote. Hawaii Public Radio.

Republicans in the Hawaii House of Representatives on Wednesday ousted minority leader Rep. Beth Fukumoto over her criticism of President Donald Trump, including calling him a bully at last month’s Women’s March in Honolulu. Star-Advertiser.

State Rep. Beth Fukumoto, the top Republican officeholder in Hawaii, may jump parties. Civil Beat.

A Republican State Representative in Hawaii is considering leaving the GOP and joining the Democrats due her party’s staunch support of President Donald Trump. Big Island Video News.

A Republican lawmaker in deep-blue Hawaii is considering switching parties to become a Democrat after she was pressured to give up her leadership role for criticizing President Donald Trump. Associated Press.

Hawaii's Republican Party on Wednesday elected State Rep. Andria Tupola as House Minority Leader, hours after passing a resolution that ousted Rep. Beth Fukumoto from the leadership role. Hawaii News Now.

Rep Beth Fukumoto: Beat up by her party, may defect. KITV.

A Hawaii lawmaker says she’s been bullied and attacked by her own party. Now Rep. Beth Fukumoto says she’s thinking of leaving the Republicans and joining the Democratic Party. KHON2.

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While the state Legislature focuses on an estimated $650 million jail for Oahu, community correctional facilities on the Neighbor Islands are far more crowded. West Hawaii Today.

Aloha Green Holdings Inc. on Oahu and Maui Grown Therapies, led by former Maui Land & Pineapple Co. Inc. CEO David Cole, received approval Wednesday from the state Health Department to start growing medical marijuana. Star-Advertiser.

Two medical marijuana dispensaries are the first to receive approvals to acquire and grow marijuana for medical products in Hawaiʻi. Maui Now.

A number of measures have been introduced in both houses of the state Legislature that would dictate the purchase and use of dashboard and body-worn cameras for police officers in departments statewide. Tribune-Herald.

A bill aiming to legalize the use of silencers on firearms is gaining support from local hunters. Garden Island.

Mental health patient’s family hopes bill will prevent tragedy. Star-Advertiser.

Environmental Council Wants Hawaii To Redefine Success. The council is proposing the use of a “genuine progress indicator” to evaluate the state in a way that goes beyond dollars and cents. Civil Beat.

Petition Calls for Tulsi Gabbard’s Removal From Key US House Posts. Organizers and signers are “infuriated and deeply troubled” by the Hawaii congresswoman’s recent trip to Syria, where she met with Bashar Assad. Civil Beat.

Commentary: Public Interest Measures Surface At Legislature. On balance and when push comes to shove, money talks, and ethics walks. Civil Beat.

Oahu

The Honolulu Police Department will ask the City Council to approve a $250,000 payment to outgoing Police Chief Louis Kealoha as well as reimbursement of those funds, HPD brass told the Police Commission on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department doesn’t have enough money to pay outgoing Chief Louis Kealoha the $250,000 he and his attorney negotiated as part of a lucrative severance package that has raised eyebrows throughout the city. Civil Beat.

They’re supposed to uphold the law, but a new report is outlining some of the illegal activity Honolulu police officers have been caught doing. KHON2.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on whether a federal agent should face a third trial for fatally shooting a man in a Waikiki fast-food restaurant. State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy's attorney is expected to argue Thursday that another trial would be double jeopardy. Associated Press.

Something's broken at Honolulu Hale: Councilman Trevor Ozawa has been dealing with a shattered window after recent high winds but that's just the beginning of costly repairs for asbestos and water damage. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii regulators have rejected a request by The Howard Hughes Corp. to do away with conditions set for the approval of the newest mixed-use high-rise residential project within the developer's 60-acre Ward Village master-planned community in Honolulu, a spokesman for the state agency confirmed to Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

A state House budget bill includes $8.9 million for Hilo Medical Center capital improvement projects. Tribune-Herald.

East Hawaii legislators are encouraging residents to stay active in efforts to pass a series of bills aimed at the long-term economic revitalization of Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Pablo M. Rivera, chief financial officer of the University of Nations/Youth with a Mission, has been charged with wire fraud for allegedly embezzling at least $1.5 million from the organization over a period of more than two years. West Hawaii Today.

One of the two people charged with intentionally setting fire to a Kona courthouse last year was recently sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A Wailuku man is again facing a charge alleging he threatened Mayor Alan Arakawa five years ago. Maui News.

Haleakala National Park officials reported roughly a third of normal crowds gathered to watch sunrise at the dormant volcano’s summit on Wednesday, the first day of the park’s new reservation system for early-morning visitors. Maui News.

The trend to buy locally grown Maui produce is strong and will last into the future, but a Maui purchaser said the government should step in to help, especially the small, local producers who have to deal with new regulations and Hawaii’s high costs. Maui News.

Medical marijuana sales could begin this summer on Maui after one of the island’s two licensed dispensaries received approval Wednesday to begin cultivation. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has upped its renewable energy goal to achieving 70 percent renewable energy by 2030, the Lihue-based utility said Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

Asbestos has been found in the tile flooring of the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall entrance. Garden Island.

Joseph Kamai has been fighting for public access to an ancient Hawaiian footpath that encircles Kauai for more than two decades. Garden Island.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sunscreen oxybenzone ban advanced to protect coral, 100 attend assisted suicide forum, Hawaii's county workers highest paid, Legislature mulls Affordable Care Act, Honolulu mayor pushes for general excise tax surcharge, spectacular lava poses danger to onlookers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2017 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii coral © 2017 All Hawaii News
A proposed ban on sunscreen products containing oxybenzone, which includes most of the sun protection items currently on store shelves, was approved by the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee on Tuesday. Civil Beat.

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection on Tuesday advanced a bill that would prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing the chemical oxybenzone. Garden Island.

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection today advanced House Bill 600, introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6, Kailua-Kona, Holualoa), which would prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing the chemical oxybenzone. Maui Now.

About 100 people attended a forum on physician-assisted suicide Tuesday in the state Capitol auditorium. Attendees heard details of House Bill 201 (Relating to Aid in Dying), listened to experiences from patients and doctors, and had some of their questions answered about the matter. Star-Advertiser.

Congress is taking steps to repeal part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act commonly referred to as Obamacare.   Hawai’i lawmakers are also advancing legislation to protect residents who might lose their medical coverage. Hawaii Public Radio.

Concerned about the dissolution of the Affordable Care Act, state lawmakers are introducing bills to merge into Hawaii law the consumer protections they consider the best parts of the federal program. Associated Press.

Lawmakers Debate Bills To Make It Easier To Evict People. Housing Committee Chairman Tom Brower says he hasn’t decided about measures to amend the landlord-tenant code. Civil Beat.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has decided to personally pay for her trip to Syria, following new stories about her trip sponsor being a backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she will “personally reimburse” all the costs of her recent week-long trip to Syria. Civil Beat.

New data released on Tuesday reveals county workers in Hawaii make the highest average wages in the nation, compared to employees from counties in other states. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Democratic Party is pulling its business from First Hawaiian Bank in support of Dakota pipeline protests. Hawaii Public Radio.

A former Hawaii State Supreme Court associate justice has died. Justice Mario Ramil was sworn in in 1993, and served for nearly a decade. KHON2.

Oahu

If state lawmakers will agree to extend the half-percent excise tax surcharge on Oahu to provide desperately needed funding for the city’s rail project, the city would be willing to share the tax revenues from that surcharge with the state, according to a pitch made Tuesday by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council Chairman Ron Menor. Star-Advertiser.

Funding of police chief’s severance raises dispute: Does the Police Commission have the authority to spend HPD money? Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric announced Tuesday it has revived three major solar projects on Oahu that it terminated last year not long before the company that was supposed to build them filed for bankruptcy. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a $9.8 million military contract to a joint venture between Hawaii contractors Aulii Construction and Nan Inc., for work at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

The developer of a long-planned condominium project at the southern slopes of Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu is moving ahead with its development after filing building permits totaling $22 million. Pacific Business News.

A recent approval to build a seventh condominium tower at Ward Village is now on hold after the project’s developer filed objections to a few conditions imposed by a state agency regulating development in Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

A man who got sick with Hepatitis A during last year's outbreak is demanding money from Genki Sushi and the chain's food suppliers, and he isn't alone. Lawyers are embroiled in dozens of cases related to the outbreak, including 3 class-action lawsuits. Hawaii News Now.

Maintenance issues persist in aging dorms at University of Hawaii at Manoa. KHON2.

New details about the investigation into the slaughter of 15 protected Laysan albatrosses at Kaena Point are contained in court documents filed by an attorney for one of the defendants. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

The chief of the Hawaii Fire Department and at least two department staff flew to the state Capitol this week to testify in favor of a bill that would add an extra ambulance in Puna. Tribune-Herald.

Just months after Hawaii County celebrated an $11.6 million upgrade to Mauna Kea Recreation Area, the county announced Tuesday the park has been closed until further notice. West Hawaii Today.

Scientists discovered they're dealing with not one but two strains of deadly fungus obliterating Ohi'a Lehua trees on the Big Island. KITV.

VIDEO: Spectacular “Lava Hose” Continues Plunge Into Sea. Big Island Video News.

A long, lateral crack in sea cliffs built by Kilauea Volcano has scientists worried about a second collapse into the ocean. Star-Advertiser.

Authorities are cracking down on visitors entering an off-limits area inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to get a closer look at the lava spewing into the ocean. National Park Service law enforcement officers have cited 28 people since a large delta collapsed a month ago, forming a fire hose of lava. Hawaii News Now.

Donation brings companion to Kona’s most famous, loneliest donkey. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

An empty bunk bed and two mattresses lying side by side on the floor — only steps away from the toilet — is a common sight in Maui Community Correctional Center cells originally designed for two inmates. Maui News.

Chancellor urges Legislature to establish $2.5M financial aid fund. Maui News.

The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management announced it is soliciting grant applications/proposals from the public for the use of available funds from the DEM Recycling Grant, Fiscal Year 2018. MauiWatch.

Kauai

Three free workshops on food safety and spoilage are being offered around the island as a part of a statewide effort to promote safe and healthy local food in schools. Garden Island.

Anthony Morita is new community relations sergeant. Garden Island.