The Beat

  • Housing and Homelessness Bills Before Hawaii Senate Commitee

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    A Hawaii Senate committee is considering a proposal that would allow homeless residents to vacate convictions for sitting or lying on public sidewalks. The measure is one of 20 bills that the Senate Committee on Human Services and Housing plans to consider at a 1:15 p.m. hearing at the Hawaii State Capitol on Saturday, Jan. 31. Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation and is also one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to buy or rent a home. Tents line the sidewalks at Olomehani Street near
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  • 300 Hawaii Residents to Receive Section 8 Housing Vouchers

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    About 300 people are in the process of receiving housing vouchers under the federal subsidy program called Section 8, according to Hakim Ouansafi, who leads the Hawaii Public Housing Authority. The agency processed housing vouchers for 200 people on Wednesday and Thursday, and plans to hand out a total of 300 vouchers. Many families have been waiting for vouchers since 2006, the last time the state’s Section 8 waitlist was opened. The Section 8 program provides a subsidy that covers 70 percent of a tenant’s rent. But the vouchers don’t guarantee that
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  • Feds Order Cleanup of Sand Island Oil Spill

    ·By Sophie Cocke
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working to ensure that a jet fuel spill off Sand Island Access Road near Keehi Lagoon gets cleaned up and doesn’t migrate into nearshore waters. The federal agency has issued a Clean Water Act order requiring Airport Service Group International, the operator of the fuel facility, and Hawaii Fueling Facilities Corp., which owns the site, to clean up all the fuel that has leaked from one of the tanks and take actions to prevent future leaks, according to a press release issued by the EPA on Friday.
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  • Democrats in Congress Reintroduce Pre-K Legislation

    ·By Chad Blair
    U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii has reintroduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, legislation her office says will “expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five.” The PRE-K Act “helps more kids arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing a federal-state partnerships that incentivizes  states to both improve the quality of state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need,” according to a press release. “The investments we make in our youngest keiki are paid back in full by
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  • Could Slot Machines Fund Hawaii Airport Upgrades?

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has this item regarding “amusement concessions” stands — a form of gaming — at Hawaii airports. Excerpt: Giving international travelers one last chance to spend money before they leave Hawaii, state Rep. Cindy Evans is proposing slot machines for international departure areas of airports. Evans, D-North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala, is sponsoring HB 91, allowing the installation of slot machines, first at Honolulu International Airport and later, once international flights return to West Hawaii, at Kona International Airport. Evans sees the bill
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  • Schatz Named to Defense Appropriations Subcommittee


    ·By Chad Blair
    U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii will serve on five Senate Appropriations Subcommittees: Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Legislative Branch. “I am grateful to Chairman (Thad) Cochran and Vice Chairwoman (Barbara) Mikulski for the opportunity to help shape the Department of Defense’s priorities, especially as it relates to the Asia-Pacific region,” Schatz said in a press release Friday.  “These are challenging times, and we operate in a difficult budget environment, but this puts me in a
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  • McDermott Wants Voters to Decide Same-Sex Marriage

    ·By Chad Blair
    The most vocal critic of same-sex marriage at the Hawaii State Legislature is not giving up. Rep. Bob McDermott, a Republican, has introduced a bill in the 2015 session proposing a constitutional amendment ballot question that would reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples. McDermott’s bill has no co-sponsors and has not yet been referred to a committee for a hearing. Given that same-sex marriage was made legal in 2013, it seems unlikely that a majority of lawmakers would want to revisit the issue. Nationally, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide whether same-sex marriage should be legal across
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  • Dawn Ige Teams Up with Domestic Violence Action Center

    ·By Marina Riker
    Dawn Ige, wife of Gov. David Ige, pledged her husband’s support to ending domestic violence during the Domestic Violence Action Center’s 25th anniversary luncheon Thursday. Hawaii’s First Lady said she plans to work directly with the center to combat domestic violence. She said she feels as a mother that “strong families are the foundation of strong communities.” She shared her insight as a teacher, and stressed the need for continued training to help educators identify and respond to signs of abuse at school. It’s evident when children are experiencing abuse at home, she said.
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  • Judge Sentences Matson for Honolulu Molasses Spill

    ·By Gene Park
    Matson Navigation Co. was sentenced in federal court Thursday to pay $600,000 in restitution to environmental groups, the Associated Press reports. The sentence stems from criminal charges related to the 2013 molasses spill that killed more than 26,000 fish and marine life. The restitution money will be given to the Waikiki Aquarium and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. Matson will also need to pay $400,000 in fines, according to the AP report. The accident, called the largest marine disaster in Hawaii’s history, caused public uproar and concern over the state’s readiness to respond to another such incident. It
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  • UH Spokeswoman Lynne Waters Lands New Job

    ·By Chad Blair
    Lynne Waters, the associate vice president for external affairs and university relations for the University of Hawaii System, is leaving her post to become vice president for University Communications at the University of Texas in Arlington. Her first day will be Feb. 27. “I am thrilled and humbled to be joining the UT Arlington team at a time when President (Vistasp) Karbhari has set forth such ambitious goals,” Waters said in a press release from her new employer. “UT Arlington is clearly poised to be recognized as a top tier,
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  • OHA Seeks Input for Kakaako Makai Master Plan

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Office of Hawaiian Affairs plans to host community meetings throughout the state beginning next month to get input on a conceptual master plan for its properties in Kakaako Makai. OHA owns nine parcels totaling 30 acres in the area. “OHA’s overarching focus for Kakaako Makai is two-fold — income generation and cultural vitality,” OHA Chairman Robert Lindsey Jr.  said in a press release Thursday. “These are complementary goals, allowing OHA to generate income that will help fuel our mission to improve the well-being of Native Hawaiians, as well as enhance and strengthen
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  • US Senate Approves Keystone Pipeline

    ·By Chad Blair
    The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on a 62-36 vote. That sets up “a clash with President Barack Obama, who has vowed to kill the bill with just his third veto in six years,” according to Politico. The bill lacks the support in both the Senate and the House to override a veto. The U.S. Capitol. Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat Nine Democrats voted for the measure, but Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii were among the 36 senators voting “no.”
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  • Which State Has the Lowest Gun Death Rate? Hawaii

    ·By Chad Blair
    A new study says that states with “weak” gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the “highest overall gun death rates in the nation.” That’s according to a Violence Policy Center analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Meanwhile, states with the lowest overall gun death rates have lower rates of gun ownership “and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation.” Hawaii earns top honors as the state with the lowest gun death
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  • Gabbard Takes Views On ‘Islamic Extremism’ to Fox News

    ·By Chad Blair
    U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard turned up on Fox News Tuesday to slam the Obama administration for not acknowledging what “Islamic extremism” really is. Gabbard, the Hawaii congresswoman and Iraq war veteran, told Fox host Greta Van Susteren, “The first thing we have to understand, it’s not just about words, it’s not about semantics, it’s really about having a real true understanding of who our enemy is and how important that is, that we have to understand what their motivation is and what their ideology is, this radical Islamic ideology that’s fueling them.”
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  • Watch Civil Beat’s Education Cafes

    ·By Mike Webb
    Earlier this month, Civil Beat held Education Cafes in Mililani and Kaneohe to discuss how we can improve the education system in Hawaii. Our partner Olelo taped the talks and we’re making them widely available so that readers can see the discussions and share their own insights. The Mililani event was titled “How Do We Retain and Elevate Teachers in Hawaii?” and featured Education chair Sen. Michelle Kidani, the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board’s Lisa DeLong, Teach For America’s William Scott, the New Teacher Center’s Michelle Robellard, and Campbell High School teacher
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  • Here’s How Much Less Women Make In Hawaii

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Huffington Post has this item on how much less women make than men in each state. Excerpt: If you’re a woman looking for equal pay for equal work, then you might want to steer clear of Louisiana and Wyoming. Those are two of the U.S. states with the biggest pay gaps between men and women, as seen in a new map from Expert Market, a site that helps businesses find equipment and services — though women’s pay lags significantly in every state. To make
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  • Chief Justice Asks Legislature for $55M to Finish Kona Courthouse

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald wants the Legislature to give the Judiciary the remaining $55 million it needs to finish building a courthouse complex in Kona. State lawmakers approved the first $35 million needed for the project last session and will be considering his request for additional money as they get to work this session, which started last week. Recktenwald highlighted the budget request during his State of the Judiciary address before the House and Senate on Wednesday at the Capitol. His speech highlighted a number of accomplishments over the
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  • Union Strike Over Contract Closes 10 Kaiser Clinics

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Nearly 1,900 Local 5 union workers are planning a six-day strike that is expected to close 10 Kaiser Permanente clinics statewide. KITV reports that employees have been working without a new contract for more than two years. Kaiser plans to reschedule elective procedures and non-urgent appointments due to the changes, according to the KITV story. Learn more here. Union workers are going on strike, shutting down 10 Kaiser Permanente clinics. KITV
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  • UH Gets Federal Approval to Import Hemp Seed

    ·By Chad Blair
    The University of Hawaii has received a permit from federal Drug Enforcement Administration to import industrial hemp seeds from Australia. The seeds will be used for Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Research Project, which was created via a state law in 2014. “This project is just the first step in establishing Hawaii as a leader in the growth and production of industrial hemp and its products,” Rep. Cynthia Thielen (Kailua-Kaneohe Bay) said in a press release Wednesday. Thielen, a Republican who has long supported industrial hemp in Hawaii, said there was a delay in
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  • Takai’s First Bill: Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act

    ·By Chad Blair
    U.S. Rep. Mark Takai’s first bill as a congressman aims to help Filipino veterans united with their families. The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), would “lift limitations on immigrant visas and restrictions for children of certain Filipino World War II veterans,” according to a press release from Takai’s office. Heck and Takai serve on the House Armed Services Committee, and Takai made the bill the topic of his first House floor speech earlier this week. U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth endorses state Rep. Mark Takai’s 2014
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