In Print

  • Two Hawaii Gov Appointments Suddenly in Trouble in the Senate

    Honolulu Civil Beat - April 29, 2014

    Two important gubernatorial appointments face opposition from key legislators in the Hawaii state Senate.

    Ironically, one nominee is for an environmental watchdog post — protecting the aina — while the other has been nominated to the development agency for Kakaako — building the aina.

    Both nominees sailed through confirmation hearings and have wide support from important people and organizations; a defeat for either nominee would be an embarrassment not only for Gov. Neil Abercrombie but also for the committee chairmen that have led the advise-and-consent process.

  • Panel chairman questions criticism of Wooley's nomination

    Give her a chance at the environmental agency, Gabbard says
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - April 29, 2014

    State Sen. Mike Gabbard on Monday strongly defended Rep. Jessica Wooley's nomination as director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control, challenging senators critical of her to explain why she is not qualified to lead the state agency.

    The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to confirm Wooley. Sources said after a private Senate caucus Monday that Wooley might have the votes to prevail.

  • Bill to expand solar power shelved

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - April 29, 2014

    Supporters of a bill that would have allowed condominium owners and others to power their homes with electricity generated at community-based solar facilities said Monday they were disappointed the bill was scuttled by lawmakers in the rush to meet procedural deadlines at the Legislature last week.

    A conference committee made up of members of the Senate and House energy committees failed to reach agreement on the bill (SB 2934) aimed at opening up the solar market to a wider group of Hawaii residents.

  • Opposition imperils nomination of Wooley

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - April 27, 2014

    State Rep. Jessica Wooley's nomination as director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control could get derailed after several senators objected to her confirmation.

    Senate leaders agreed on Friday evening to delay a vote on Wooley's confirmation until Tuesday.

    Sources said privately that Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office has been informed that Wooley's nomination might be at risk.

    Sen. Clarence Nishihara, who opposes Wooley's confirmation, said there is enough concern that "may­be the governor should reconsider his appointment."

  • Legislators hold hope for hemp bill

    The measure would allow research into industrial hemp's use as a biofuel and more
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - April 20, 2014

    Imagine a crop that can be used to purify soil and make food, clothing, rope, paper, plastic, pest-resistant building material, oil, fuel, animal bedding and tens of thousands of other products. The Declaration of Independence was written on it; George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it; Betsy Ross made the American flag out of it; and Henry Ford built and ran cars with it.

    But it's been illegal to grow in the United States for more than 50 years.

  • UH could lead charge on hemp research

    Ka Leo - March 31, 2014

    The marijuana plant’s less-potent cousin and its industrial uses could become the focus for researchers at the University of Hawai‘i if one state legislator has his way.

    The proposal would charge the dean of UH’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources with creating a research program that would spend two years looking at the possible uses of industrial hemp in Hawai‘i and report its findings to the legislature.
    It would also legally disassociate the plant, which has leaves that look similar to those of marijuana, from its relative.

  • No rush to end state tax credit for new solar systems

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - March 10, 2014

    Whether to reduce the state's 35 percent tax credit for solar systems was a hotly discussed topic among legislators a year ago but has been pushed to the back burner this year.

    The state tax credit has contributed to Hawaii becoming the leading state in the nation for solar on a per capita basis. Fully 10 percent of electric utility customers on Oahu now have solar photovoltaic systems, compared with just 1.4 percent in Cali­for­nia, the next-highest state.

  • Navy still working on finding the cause of Red Hill fuel leak

    Honolulu Star Advertiser - March 8, 2014

    The Navy hasn't yet gotten to the bottom of a leak at the Red Hill fuel farm that is believed to have dumped up to 27,000 gallons of JP-8 aviation fuel into concrete containment surrounding the leaky steel liner.

    Tank 5 had just been repaired and refilled when the leak was detected Jan. 13.

    Capt. Mike Williamson, commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii, told state lawmakers Friday that preparations are underway to make the giant tank "gas-free" so personnel can enter it and determine the cause of the leak.

  • Lawmakers in Hawaii Aim to Pump Life Into Heart Defects Bill

    Honolulu Civil Beat - February 25, 2014

    A simple test that can save babies lives isn't mandatory in Hawaii.

    Last year, a measure that would have required newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects before leaving the hospital didn't make it through the House's health committee. More than 30 states have already enacted similar measures.

    Hoping to resuscitate the issue, a constituent approached Sen. Mike Gabbard about writing and sponsoring a bill, Senate Bill 2194, with more precise language than last year's bill, which some lawmakers believe was so broad that it resulted in its demise.

  • Exclusive: What Is It Like To Party With Duane 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Chapman?

    Honolulu Magazine - February 7, 2014

    On Thursday evening, tourists lounging on Waikiki Beach got a surprise when a reality television star made an unexpected appearance just a few feet away. As soon as Duane Chapman and his wife Beth Chapman walked towards the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s outdoor cocktail bar for a private birthday bash, a crowd gathered along the picket fence with their smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras to snap candid photos of the celebrities.

    “If you’re in Hawaii, you’ve got to get a photo of Dog Chapman,” one man said, smartphone in hand.

  • Educators: Thousands of Hawaii Children Left Behind in Preschool Talks

    Honolulu Civil Beat - January 30, 2014

    As high-profile deliberations over whether there should be publicly funded preschool resume, some Hawaii educators and parents are growing frustrated with the limited attention that policymakers are giving to imminent changes to the state’s kindergarten age requirement. The changes are expected to shake up the entire public school system and leave thousands of families without a place for their children to study.

  • Honolulu Harbor Molasses Spill Sparks Legislation

    Honolulu Civil Beat - January 27, 2014

    Hawaii lawmakers have proposed a number of bills this year aimed at making sure Hawaii is better prepared to deal with a toxic spill in the wake of the September molasses leak at Honolulu Harbor that killed thousands of fish and devastated coral reefs.

    A ruptured pipeline caused a quarter million gallons of molasses to spill into the harbor, sparking intense public scrutiny of Matson shipping company as well as state agencies charged with regulating the harbor, in particular the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

  • Hawaii lawmakers urge changes after molasses spill - January 27, 2014

    Hawaii lawmakers are responding to last year's molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor by suggesting any fines or settlements the state collects for ocean spills be put toward restoring coral reefs.

    Rep. Chris Lee said Monday that the proposed special fund for the Department of Land and Natural Resources is one of several changes the state can make to prevent or respond more efficiently to future spills.

  • Bill clamps down on county ag laws

    State and federal regulations top efforts to limit modern practices, lawmakers
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - January 24, 2014

    Two state lawmakers want to strengthen Hawaii's Right to Farm Act by preventing counties from restricting agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices that are allowed under federal and state law.

    The bill was prompted by a Kauai County law that regulates genetically modified organisms and pesticide use and a Hawaii County law that bans new GMO crops. The bill could cast a legal cloud over the Kauai and Hawaii island laws and could preclude other counties from taking similar action to restrict GMOs.

  • Alien species alarm re-sounded

    More funding is needed to tackle the problem, officials tell a Senate panel
    Honolulu Star Advertiser - January 9, 2014

    Last year, a mosquito capable of spreading dengue fever began showing up at Honolulu Airport.

    And on Dec. 23 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, state inspectors found coconut rhinoceros beetles, or Oryctes rhinoceros -- insects capable of destroying palm and coconut trees as well as sugarcane.

    Hawaii is facing serious threats from new alien species, state Health Department officials warned lawmakers Wednesday, saying more financial support and coordinated focus is necessary to stem an invasion of harmful insects capable of causing billions in economic losses.