Latest Articles

  • 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

  • Senate Committee Defers Public Records Bill

    · By Nathan Eagle

    State Sens. Gil Keith-Agaran, Kalani English, Maile Shimabukuro and Glenn Wakai would like government agencies to take better care in how they maintain public records.

    The Office of Information Practices, the state agency tasked with administering Hawaii’s open records law, appreciates the intent of what they are trying to do but came out against their legislation to require it statutorily.

    Gilbert Keith-Agaran

    “OIP believes that encouraging agencies to be attentive to existing retention schedules and to take care with their ‘official’ files is a laudable goal, but the broad application of this

  • State Lawmakers Lambaste Mayor Over Request to Extend Rail Tax

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Hawaii lawmakers took turns hammering Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Monday over his request to let the county continue charging a half-percent surcharge on the General Excise Tax to fund the city’s rail project.

    The 20-mile, 21-station project, budgeted at $5.2 billion, is now facing a shortfall of up to $910 million, spurring the mayor to ask the Legislature to make the surcharge permanent instead of letting it sunset as planned in 2022.

    “I’m here because I think it’s the last resort,” Caldwell told a panel of House and Senate

  • Ige Appoints Kim to Be Special Adviser to the Governor

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Hawaii Gov. David Ige has found a new home for Elizabeth Kim.

    He wanted her to head the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, but had to withdraw the nomination last week after realizing she was ineligible due to residency restrictions.

    Gov. David Ige has appointed Elizabeth Kim to be special adviser to the governor.

    Shawn T Moore/Office of the Governor

    The Constitution requires any governor-appointed department heads to live in the state for at least a year immediately preceding the

  • House Majority Leader Looks to Revive Shield Law in Hawaii

    · By Nathan Eagle

    House Majority Leader Scott Saiki has introduced a measure to bring back certain protections for journalists in Hawaii.

    The Legislature couldn’t agree in 2013 on what to do with the state’s Shield Law so it expired that summer.

    House Bill 17, which passed first reading Thursday, would create a permanent news media privilege protecting journalists from having to disclose their sources or unpublished information to anyone who can compel testimony — legislative, executive, judicial or otherwise.

    House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, pictured here at center

  • Hawaii House Democrats Unveil Majority Package — Without Any Bills

    · By Nathan Eagle

    House Democrats held a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol to announce the majority caucus legislative package but offered little in the way of details about any of the priorities they plan to focus on this session, which convened Wednesday.

    Fixing public infrastructure, facilitating business and increasing participation in government will be the main themes, Majority Leader Scott Saiki told a foyer full of reporters.

    The plan is to focus on “festering” issues that have long-plagued the state, he said, before turning it over to committee chairs to broadly discuss what they

  • Big Spending Questions Loom as Hawaii Legislature Convenes

    · By Nathan Eagle

    After all the hoopla, the fanfare, the public protests outside and political speeches inside the Capitol as the 2015 legislative session opened Wednesday morning, people retreated to their offices and homes and went on with their day.

    Except for a dozen lawmakers and a few of the state’s top economists and financial planners. They went to the Capitol’s basement auditorium to talk about the realities that the legislators face. Namely, how affairs within and outside Hawaii are affecting what money the state can expect to generate in coming years

  • House Speaker Wants to Tackle GMOs, Medical Marijuana, Education

    · By Nathan Eagle

    State senators and representatives convened the 2015 legislative session in their respective chambers Wednesday morning as groups advocating for Native Hawaiian rights and restrictions against genetically modified organisms protested in the Capitol rotunda outside.

    Hundreds of people packed the galleries to watch. There were family and friends of lawmakers, lobbyists, dignitaries, county council members from around Hawaii, special interest groups and young students.

    In his opening remarks, House Speaker Joe Souki recognized comments newly elected Gov. David Ige made in his inaugural address last month about the importance of

  • Denby Fawcett: 2015 Legislature — Time To Stop the Financial Bleeding

    · By Denby Fawcett

    At the opening of the Hawaii State Legislature on Wedneday, anti-GMO activists will join forces with Hawaiian rights leaders in the Capitol to rally for Native Hawaiian independence and a ban on genetically modified crops.

    House Majority Leader Scott Saiki says despite such demonstrations, he predicts this year’s session will be calm — a far cry from the wildly emotional roller coaster ride of years past when lawmakers battled over and finally legalized same-sex marriages.

    Saiki says this year will be a time to buckle down to tackle longstanding financial problems that threaten

  • Health Department Flouts Law Calling for Online Access to Care Home Reports

    · By Nathan Eagle

    “Unbelievable.”

    That was Wendy Silverthorne’s first reaction when she learned this week that the Hawaii Department of Health has blown its deadline to start posting online the inspection reports of more than 1,600 long-term care facilities.

    The Kailua native inadvertently became the poster child for the issue two years ago when a handful of state lawmakers, government officials and advocates for the elderly began their uphill battle to force the department to change its longstanding policy of requiring the public to file a formal written request to view

  • Sex Trafficking Measures To Be Proposed This Session

    · By Marina Riker

    People who benefit from the illegal sex trade are expected to be the target of new laws this legislative session, including a measure that would get tough on those who solicit prostitutes.

    The Anti-Trafficking Task Force, comprised of lawmakers and anti-tracking activists, is pushing what would be the first sex trafficking law aimed specifically at pimps.

    Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland and Rep. John Mizuno, who serve on the task force, are expected to introduce a handful of bills that could bolster sex trafficking prosecutions.

    Currently, there is no law in Hawaii that addresses

  • Health Connector, Hawaiian Electric Merger Top Senate Minority Priorities

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Sam Slom, the Senate’s lone Republican, and minority staff have unveiled their priorities for the 2015 legislative session, which convenes Jan. 21.

    Transparency and accountability will be the overarching theme. Under that umbrella are five areas of focus: the state economy, education, the Hawaii Health Connector, oversight of the Public Utilities Commission in light of the pending merger between Hawaiian Electric Industries and NextEra Energy, and positively affecting the cost of living for residents, according to an announcement Wednesday.

    Sen. Sam Slom, accompanied by Senate Minority staff, speaks during a press conference in his office