Star Search Auditions This Weekend in Hawaii

Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. representatives would like to meet local singers, musicians, actors, actresses, models, spokespersons, comedians, magicians and other talented individuals this weekend!

Sony

Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. is searching for young talented individuals in Hawaii, ages 12-25, for their Star Search event this coming weekend, May 16 & 17, at the Olelo Media Center in Mapunapuna.

Singers, musicians, actors, actresses, models, spokespersons, comedians, magicians and other talent are being sought for Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. in Japan and other Asia markets.  Stellar Services of Hawaii is coordinating the two-day event for Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.

Star Search is open to anyone with talent in the specified age group.  Those selected this weekend must be available for a more formal callback audition June 12 & 13.  Chosen entrants will have the opportunity to debut via Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. or one of its affiliates.

“As a kamaaina, I’m especially pleased that Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. is looking for talented youngsters right here in Hawaii,” said Peter Rodbell, Stellar Services president and producer of the event.  “This is a great opportunity for some of our local talent to possibly make it big and realize their dreams – and I’m all for that!  I look forward to meeting a lot of young people this weekend, and wish everyone who comes down the best of luck!”

Here is a summary of the Star Search event, below.

  • Dates:  Saturday/Sunday, May 16 & 17, 2015
  • Time:   10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Place:   Olelo Media Center, 1122 Mapunapuna Street in Honolulu

Special Notes:

  • MUST AUDITION IN-PERSON. WE WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY PHOTOS/BIOS VIA EMAIL.
  • All:  Please bring a headshot
  • All:  Please bring a resume or bio, if available.
  • Singer/Musician entrants:  Please bring your own instruments or minus-one and any equipment needed.
  • Model Entrants:  Please bring a swimsuit photo or wear one on event day.
  • Japanese-speaking a plus, but not required.
  • Youth 12-17 years old must be accompanied by parent/guardian.

Questions:  Tel. (808) 489-2951 / stellarservices@hawaii.rr.com

Big Island Chocolate Festival Announces Winners

Culinary entries from across the state were tapped winners at last night’s Big Island Chocolate Festival. Chefs, chocolatiers and students were critiqued on taste, texture, appearance and creativity by a team of celebrity judges during the three-day festival.

Professional winners of the BICF gala were from left: Hilton Waikoloa Village Chef Dayne Tanabe, Gini Choobua of Likao Kula Farm, Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate, Fairmont Orchid Pastry Chef Daniel Sampson and Executive Fairmont Orchid Chef Hubert Des Marais.

Professional winners of the BICF gala were from left: Hilton Waikoloa Village Chef Dayne Tanabe, Gini Choobua of Likao Kula Farm, Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate, Fairmont Orchid Pastry Chef Daniel Sampson and Executive Fairmont Orchid Chef Hubert Des Marais.

Event host The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i was cited in three categories for best plated dessert, bean to bar and the People’s Choice award. The Hilton Waikoloa Village earned best savory while Madre Chocolate took top bonbons.

Likao Kula Farm of Holualoa bested 11 entries to win the inaugural cacao processing category.

“The processing of the cacao bean—its fermenting and drying—is an important step in the flavor and quality of chocolate and we’re happy our local growers competed in this new competition category,” said Farsheed Bonkadar, president of the Kona Cacao Association.

UH-Maui College won the morning community college culinary competition led by Chef Instructor Teresa Shurilla (with plaque). Students from left are Devin Galloway, Noelle Bender, Yi Song, Taylor McGraw and Clarissa Logsdon.

UH-Maui College won the morning community college culinary competition led by Chef Instructor Teresa Shurilla (with plaque). Students from left are Devin Galloway, Noelle Bender, Yi Song, Taylor McGraw and Clarissa Logsdon.

Culinary students from University of Hawai‘i-Maui College won the morning student competition besting second place Hawai‘i Community College-Hilo and third place Hawai‘i Community College-West Hawai‘i. Students prepared elaborate plated desserts using chocolate.

Commenting on the competitions, Bonkadar added, “The caliber of entries continues to improve and it’s rewarding to see how both student and professional culinarians use chocolate in both sweet and savory recipes.”

Heading the team of judges for the two competitions were celebrity chefs Stanton Ho, Guittard’s Donald Wressell, Valrhona Chocolate’s Derek Poirier and Sam Choy of Keauhou’s Kai Lanai restaurant. Other team judges included Elizabeth McDonald of Maui’s B3 A Beach Bunny Bakery; Ricky DeBoer of The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui; Steven Arakaki of Kukio Golf & Beach Club; Chris Speere of UH-Maui College and Daniel Sampson of The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i. Teresa Shurilla of UH-Maui College oversaw the judging.

The real winners of the fourth annual festival are two beneficiaries: the Equip the Kitchens campaign for the future Hawai’i Community College-Palamanui and Kona Pacific Public Charter School.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, the Big Island Chocolate Festival not only heralds Hawai’i’s growing cacao industry, but also the culinarians who masterfully create foods featuring chocolate.

In addition to last night’s gala, the three-day festival offered a full lineup of chocolate decadence from planting to plating: a Kona cacao farm tour, plus growing and processing seminars and how-to culinary demonstrations.

Visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com for updates on next year’s event.

The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.

 

Two People Die in Three-Vehicle Collision on Kona Highway

A 47-year-old Kailua-Kona man and his passenger died in a three-vehicle collision Saturday evening (May 9) on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway near the 94-mile marker.

HPDBadgeThe 47-year-old man was identified as Rick Dupont. His male passenger has not yet been identified.

Responding to a 7:32 p.m. call, police determined that a 2014 Nissan Altima was being operated by a 23-year-old woman traveling south on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway when her car crossed left of center and side-swiped a 2010 Ford Fusion heading north, then struck head-on with a 2013 Honda CRF 250L motorcycle, also heading north, which was operated by Dupont. Dupont and his passenger were thrown from the motorcycle upon impact.

Both were taken to Kona Community Hospital, where Dupont was pronounced dead at 11:55 p.m. and his passenger was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The operator of the Nissan, 23-year-old Rebecca Vetter of Honolulu, was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment and was later released. She was arrested on suspicion of first-degree negligent homicide. She was released pending further investigation.

The operator of the Ford, a 60-year-old Kamuela woman, refused treatment and was released by medics at the scene.

Pahoa Student Wins Prestigious Foodland Scholarship

Yesterday, at the Hawaii Prince Hotel in Waikiki, Foodland Hawaii honored its 2015 recipients of the “Shop for Higher Education Scholarships”.

Big Island Recipients of the Foodbank Shop for Higher Education Scholarships.

Big Island Recipients of the Foodbank Shop for Higher Education Scholarships.

Camry Isabel from Pahoa High School was a recipient earning a scholarship in the amount of $2000. She has been accepted to attend the University of Hawaii-Hilo (UHH) campus where she plans to major in Nursing. Her goal is to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

Camry Isabel and Foodland CEO Jenny Wai

Camry Isabel and Foodland CEO Jenai Wall

Since moving to Pahoa High in November, Isabel has been inducted into the National Honor Society and will be graduating from Pahoa with Magna Cum Laude honors. In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA, she also works part-time and takes credits at Hawaii Community College.

Camry is the daughter of Debra and Slade Isabel from Pahoa.

Stars From “The Vampire Diaries” Meet “Blue Bloods” & Rough Riders at the Big Island Film Festival

Only in Hawai‘i can a bloodthirsty vampire come together with a blue-blooded policeman in peace, for movies under the stars and music by Henry Kapono, John Cruz and Brother Noland.

Ariel Kebbel

Arielle Kebbel

Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i (BIFF) invites the  community to meet actress Arielle Kebbel (“Lexi” from “The Vampire Diaries”) and actor Will Estes (“Officer Jamie Reagan” from “Blue Bloods”) during the tenth annual festival May 21-25, 2015.

Will Estes

Will Estes

The BIFF wraps with Best of the Fest, starring the new Rough Riders trio in concert on Monday, May 25.

Kebbel, 30, grew up in Florida and started her acting career with “CSI” in 2003. Numerous TV credits include “Gillmore Girls,” “Life Unexpected,”  and “90210,” before taking the role of “Lexi” in “The Vampire Diaries.” Kebbel is presently working with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on a new HBO series, “Ballers,” about professional football.

Estes, 36, costars as Officer Jamie Reagan, son of Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) on “Blue Bloods.” His career began at age 6 on “Santa Barbara,” and in 1989 he was chosen to star in “The New Lassie,” using his real name, Will Nipper.  His prolific career has included “Kirk,” “Full House,” and other TV roles, and films such as his most recent, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The public is invited to exclusive soirées in honor of Kebbel and Estes on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 5-7 p.m. at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i. Events begin in the Lehua Theatre with a video retrospective of the actor’s career, in-depth interview and Q&A, then stroll into Wailana Gardens for elegant pupu reception, with beverages including Kona Brewing Company beers and Pau Maui Vodka, and an opportunity for informal networking in a luxury resort setting. Advance tickets are required ($35).

Kebbel and Estes will also attend the exciting Golden Honu Awards Brunch on Monday, May 25, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. in the Kilohana Room. The elegant brunch buffet, with beverages including Pau Maui Vodka, is open to the public with advance reservations required ($50).  Winning films and Audience Choice Feature and Short will be announced during brunch.

Audience Choice films will be presented Monday evening at Best of the Fest—kicking off with the Hawai‘i Island concert debut of new and exciting trio The Rough Riders, Henry Kapono, John Cruz and Brother Noland.  The powerhouse trio named themselves for legendary paniolos who took the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo by storm over 100 years ago.

More highlights of BIFF include free family films at The Shops at Mauna Lani, daytime movies in the cool Lehua Theatre and nightly double features at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i Plantation Estate, screenwriting workshops and numerous opportunities to meet and interact with filmmakers and film-lovers from near and far.

Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i is a celebration of independent narrative films and filmmaking, taking place May 21-25.  Major sponsors include The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, The Shops at Mauna Lani and Hawai‘i County CPEP/Hawaii Tourism Authority.  For complete schedule information and tickets, visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com or call (808) 883-0394.

New Satellite Image Shows Lava Flow Activity and Progress

This satellite image was captured on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 by the Landsat 8 satellite. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see.

The lava flow field is partly obscured by clouds, but the image shows much of the activity on the June 27th flow.

Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.   (Click to enlarge)

Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds. (Click to enlarge)

There have been three areas of breakouts active on the June 27th flow recently. The Feb 21 breakout has slowly migrated north over the past couple months. The breakout north of Kahaualeʻa has been active recently at the forest boundary, triggering small brush fires. The farthest breakout is 6-8 km (4-5 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and consists of scattered activity near the forest boundary.

VIDEO – Lava Lake Remains High

The lava lake in the Overlook crater, within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at Kīlauea’s summit, remains at a high level and close to the Overlook crater rim. Overflows onto the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater floor have built up the rim of the Overlook crater several meters, and recent overflows are visible in the right side of the photograph.

Spattering was vigorous today in the southern portion of the lake. From this view, the spattering was hidden behind a portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall, but airborne spatter can be seen in the bottom left portion of the photo. The summit of Mauna Loa can be seen in the upper right.  (Click to enlarge)

Spattering was vigorous today in the southern portion of the lake. From this view, the spattering was hidden behind a portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall, but airborne spatter can be seen in the bottom left portion of the photo. The summit of Mauna Loa can be seen in the upper right. (Click to enlarge)

The lake level this afternoon was about 7 meters (yards) above the original (pre-overflow) floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

VIDEO:

This Quicktime movie shows spattering at the margin of the summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

Click to view the Quick Time Movie

Click to view the Quick Time Movie

Spattering has been common at the lake, and when it occurs is easily visible from the public viewing area at Jaggar Museum. This video shows a closer view from the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu, which is closed to the public due to volcanic hazards.

Electric Company Responds to Recent Power Interruptions

Hawaii Electric Light reports that customers in various areas around the island experienced brief power interruptions this week.

Hawaiian Electric Company Logo

The interruptions occurred on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday evening when a unit at the company’s Keahole Power Plant tripped offline. An estimated 12,000 customers were without power for about five minutes each time until backup generators were started.

“We understand that power outages are disruptive, and we sincerely apologize to our customers who were inconvenienced by these interruptions,” said spokeswoman Kristen Okinaka.

Managing an electric utility grid is a challenging and intricate process. It requires carefully balancing generation with load. Most utility grids occasionally experience a sudden loss of generation. This could occur when a generator unexpectedly trips offline or when weather conditions significantly reduce the amount of energy produced from renewable resources.

Hawaii Electric Light’s system operators work hard to maintain the reliability of the grid. However, when generation changes very quickly, protective devices automatically disconnect loads to help maintain service for the majority of customers. This is called Under Frequency Load Shedding. Some customers will experience a temporary, short power interruption while backup generators are started.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience during the past week,” Okinaka said. “We want to assure our customers that we have sufficient generation to continue to serve our community.” Updates on power outages and restoration efforts can be found on Hawaii Electric Light’s Twitter account: @HIElectricLight. To report a power outage, please call (808) 969-6666.

Former Maui Mayoral Candidate Sentenced to 20 Years Prison for Securities Fraud

Nelson N. Waikiki, a former 2014 candidate for Maui mayor, was sentenced Friday by Maui circuit judge Rhonda I. L. Loo to 20 years in prison for securities fraud, the state attorney general’s office announced.

Nelson Waikiki

Nelson N. Waikiki

“Mr. Waikiki convinced several people to invest money in a water rights company on Maui,” said Deputy Attorney General Albert Cook. “Following an investigation by the State, it was determined that Mr. Waikiki did not have any such rights to the water, that he was not registered to sell securities in Hawaii, and that the securities he sold were not registered. In total, Mr. Waikiki’s schemes scammed up to 21 victims for more than $100,000.00.”

In addition to sentencing Waikiki to two consecutive 10-year prison terms for four counts of securities fraud, Judge Loo has ordered Waikiki to pay restitution to the victims.

Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Final Reading – Dispensaries in Hawaii Next Step

On the last day of the 2015 regular session, the House passed on final reading HB321, CD1, which creates a statewide distribution system for medical marijuana and establishes the parameters for individuals and entities to apply to set up the dispensaries. Medical Marijuana

“There are an estimated 13,000 qualifying patients throughout the state who are desperately looking to find a safe, reliable and convenient access to medical marijuana.  This bill is a reasonable and compassionate response to the needs of our citizens,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully Pawaa, Manoa), who co-introduced the bill along with House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).  Both are long-time supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries.

“While the Legislature made legal the medical use of marijuana on June 14, 2000, the law has remained silent for 15 years on how patients can obtain medical marijuana if they or their caregivers are unable to grow their own supply,” Souki added.  “There has been a desperate need for a safe and reliable dispensary system statewide for medical marijuana for a long time.  This bill finally answers that need.”

The measure follows closely the recommendations of the Task Force commissioned by the Legislature in 2013 to study the implementation of medical marijuana dispensaries.  It also provides for opportunities to improve the system and correct any shortcomings on a go-forward basis.

The bill, which also passed the Senate, now goes to the Governor for his signature, veto or passage without his signature.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL:

  • Allows for eight (8) dispensary licensees in the state: three (3) on Oahu, two (2) on Big Island and two (2) on Maui County; one (1) on Kauai;
  • Each licensee may own, operate or subcontract up to two production centers and up to two retail dispensing locations; prohibits dispensary from being located in same place as production center;
  • Requires the Department of Health to engage in public education and training regarding medical marijuana;
  • Requires the Department of Health to adopt interim rules by Jan. 4, 2016, for the establishment and management of the medical marijuana dispensary system;
  • Tasks the Department of Health with accepting applications for dispensary licenses from Jan. 12, 2016, to Jan. 29, 2016, and announcing licensees by April 15, 2016;
  • Tasks the Department of Health to select licensees based on minimum requirements and merit based factors including: the capacity to meet the needs of patients; ability to comply with criminal background checks, inventory controls, and security requirements; ability to operate a business; and financial stability and access to financial resources;
  • Allows the Department of Health to license additional operators after Oct. 1, 2017, based on qualifying patient need;
  • Dispensaries must comply with all zoning regulations and will not be permitted within 750 ft. of a playground, public housing or school;
  • Licensees may begin dispensing marijuana and manufactured marijuana products on July 15, 2016, with the approval of the Department of Health;
  • Licensed applicants must pay (a) $5,000 non-refundable application fee, (b) an additional $75,000 fee for each license approved, and (c) a $50,000 annual renewal fee;
  • Establishes the criteria for license applications to require that an individual applicant: be a legal resident of the State for not less than five years, be over the age of 21, and have no felony convictions;
  • Establishes the minimum criteria for license applications to require that an entity applicant: be organized under the laws of the state and have a Hawaii tax ID number, have a 51 percent or greater Hawaii based ownership stake, have at least $1,000,000 under its control for each license applied for with an additional $100,000 available for each retail dispensing location;
  • Imposes regular general excise taxes onto the sale of marijuana and manufactured products within the dispensary system and does not include any additional taxes;
  • Allows qualifying patients to obtain medical marijuana from primary caregivers who cultivate or by personally cultivating marijuana until Dec. 31, 2018;
  • Allows a primary caregiver or legal guardian to cultivate marijuana after Dec. 31, 2018, if qualifying patient is a minor or adult lacking legal capacity or who is located on any island with no dispensary;
  • Expands the definition of “debilitating medical condition” for the purpose of authorizing use to include post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Expands the Department of Health’s authority to conduct criminal background checks;
  • Requires dispensaries to allow announced and unlimited unannounced inspections and to conduct annual financial audits; and
  • Requires the Department of Health to file annual report to Governor and Legislature on dispensaries.

Additional details of the measure can be found in the bill text and the committee report at the links below:

Hawaii State Senate Reorganizes Committees – Big Island Senators Elected to Key Positions

The Hawai‘i State Senate today announced a new line up of committees and committee chairs as part of its recent reorganization.

capital

“This new alignment is consistent with our policy of making the best use of our members’ skills and interests,” said Senate President, Sen. Ronald Kouchi (Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau). “We believe these assignments will make us more effective as a body moving forward.”

The following are the new committee assignments:

Consumer Protection (CPN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Rosalyn Baker
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Michelle Kidani

Economic Development and Technology (EDT)

  • Chair: Sen. Glenn Wakai
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Sam Slom

Education (EDU)

  • Chair:  Sen. Michelle Kidani
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto

Hawaiian Affairs (HWN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Maile Shimabukuro
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Higher Education and the Arts (HEA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Brian Taniguchi
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Gilbert Kahele

Housing (HSG)

  • Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Brickwood Galuteria

Judiciary and Labor (JDL)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Maile Shimabukuro

Public Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs (PSM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Clarence Nishihara
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Will Espero

Tourism (TSI)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gilbert Kahele
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Transportation and Energy (TRE)

  • Chair:  Sen. Lorraine Inouye
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard

Water, Land and Agriculture (WLA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Clarence Nishihara

Ways and Means (WAM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Jill Tokuda
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

In addition, Senate Leadership has assigned Sen. Laura Thielen the chair of the Committee on Health and the Environment (HEV) and Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland the chair and Sen. Donna Mercado Kim as Vice Chair of the Committee on Human Services (HMS). These assignments are awaiting confirmation.  Sen. Rosalyn Baker has been confirmed as Vice Chair of HEV.

The new confirmed committee assignments will take effect immediately.

As the Senate reorganizes, members of Senate leadership will not act as committee chairs. This division of duties allows the Senate to more broadly balance and distribute power within this chamber and better respond to the needs of our state. Senate leadership will be as follows:

  • Senate President: Sen. Ronald Kouchi
  • Senate Vice President: Sen. Will Espero
  • Majority Leader: Sen. J. Kalani English
  • Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Josh Green
  • Majority Caucus Leader: Sen. Brickwood Galuteria
  • Majority Whip: Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

Lava Breakouts Remain Active – Lava Lake Remains High

The June 27th lava flow remains active, with breakouts focused in several areas northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The farthest downslope activity observed on today’s overflight was roughly 8 km (5 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

This photograph shows one of the active breakouts closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō.  (Click to enlarge)

This photograph shows one of the active breakouts closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō. (Click to enlarge)

One of several lobes on the June 27th flow that was at the forest boundary today, burning vegetation northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater remains at high level

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Over the past week, the summit lava lake in the Overlook crater rose and spilled out onto the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, creating the dark flows in the south part of Halemaʻumaʻu (left side of crater from this direction). The extent of the lake itself, set within the Overlook crater, is slightly difficult to distinguish from this view but the spattering at the lake margin is visible. The overflows onto the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater floor, not counting the area of the lake itself, total about 11 hectares (28 acres).

A closer look at the lava lake and overflows on the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

hvo147The outline of the Overlook crater, and the active lake, is easier to distinguish in this view.

From this angle, the extent of the lava lake within the Overlook crater is much easier to distinguish from the surrounding overflows.

hvo148

The closed Halemaʻumaʻu parking lot is in the right side of the photograph.

Hawaii House of Reps Passes Bills on Final Reading

As the close of session quickly approaches, the House today approved bills that address a wide range of issues, including extending the rail tax for another five years, funding the Turtle Bay land purchase, and approving the state budget.

capital

Other significant measures that passed final reading in the House included increasing the tax state credit for low-income residents; providing additional funds for preschool for low-income families; requiring health insurers to provide coverage for children with autism; making sex trafficking a Class A felony; and establishing an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

“The House took on some tough issues relating to the rail tax, Turtle Bay and the Maui public hospitals, and worked collaboratively with the Administration and the Senate to come up with sound and reasonable solutions,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).

“We also crafted a responsible budget that addressed our long-term obligations and took care of our immediate social services needs and capital improvement requirements.”

HB500, CD1, the state budget bill, appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the current biennium, fiscal years FY2015-2016 and FY2016-2017, will now go to the Governor for his signature.  The bill includes nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

In crafting the budget, House Finance Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) looked to create a “better budget” in four ways, by: (1) limiting growth in the budget, (2) fueling economic growth through selective tax credits, (3) investing in people who need help the most, and (4) reducing the state’s unfunded liabilities and building up its Rainy Day funds.

Earlier, the House passed and sent on to the Governor a bill that raised the smoking age in Hawaii to 21 that put the state in the lead in national efforts to prevent nicotine addiction.  The bill also banned the sale and use of e-cigarettes in public places to anyone under 21.

Highlights of the measures passed include:

EDUCATION

SB64, CD1, makes an appropriation of $6,000,000 for the Preschool Open Doors Program.

HB820, CD1, establishes the Executive Office on Early Learning Public Prekindergarten Program to be administered by the Executive Office on Early Learning and provided through Department of Education public schools and public charter schools.

HB11, CD1, authorizes an additional per year bonus for teachers who maintain current national board certification under the national board certification incentive program and teach at a school in a focus, priority, or Superintendent’s Zone, as determined by the Department of Education.

SB1345, CD1, requires the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools and report to the Legislature regarding the plan and any proposed legislation. Appropriates funds to the Department of Education for the development of a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools.

SB854, CD1, requires public school lands that are leased to benefit public educational purposes rather than simply to be used for public purposes. Authorizes the Department of Education to enter into leaseback agreements.

SB374, CD1, renames the “running start program” as the “dual credit program”. Broadens participation to include ninth and tenth graders. Broadens participation to include home-schooled students for courses offered on University of Hawaii campuses. Replaces a standardized test with an assessment. Repeals tuition and fees requirement.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SB273, CD1, requires the examiner of drivers to accept a sworn statement from a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, correctional institution staff, a medical or health professional, or a verification letter from a homeless service provider as documentary evidence of a homeless person’s address. Requires the Director of Transportation’s rules to direct the examiner of drivers to waive all fees for original or renewal identification cards for homeless individuals upon verification of homeless status. Establishes a working group to develop a plan to enable homeless individuals in the State to obtain necessary documentary evidence.

KUPUNA

SB964, CD1, appropriates $3,000,000 for the Kupuna Care Program.

HEALTH AND HEALTH CONNECTOR

SB1028, CD1, appropriates $2,000,000 for the operations of the Hawaii Health Connector.

HB576, CD1, narrows the scope of work of the State Innovation Waiver Task Force to facilitate the development of an Affordable Care Act waiver in a timely manner.

SB1117, CD1, makes an emergency appropriation of $15,000,000 to support the functions of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

SB1291, CD1, prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients and caregivers by schools, landlords, courts with regard to medical care or parental rights, planned community associations, condominium property regimes, and condominiums.

SB791, CD1, requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

HB631, CD1, establishes the documentation required when requesting the Department of Health to issue a new birth certificate with a sex designation change.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

SB387, CD1, establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

HB553, CD1, allows part-time and full-time graduate student assistants employed by UH to collectively bargain their wages, hours, and other terms; provided that no collective bargaining agreement shall take effect prior to July 1, 2016. Requires UH and the relevant exclusive representatives to meet and report to the Legislature.

HB547, CD1, requires the University of Hawaii to provide guidance to students to increase the rate of on-time graduation through a Graduation Pathway System. Appropriates funds for the Graduation Pathway System and to the John A. Burns School of Medicine for repairs.

HB541, CD1, requires each UH campus to prepare an operations plan, to be reviewed by the President and VP for Budget and Finance and CFO of UH, for each fiscal year. Requires the moneys in the UH Tuition and Fees Special Fund for each UH campus to lapse to the credit of Program ID No. UOH900 (University of Hawaii, system wide support)

PUBLIC SAFETY

HB448, CD1, requires the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct reviews of domestic violence, near-deaths, and suicides, in addition to fatalities. Authorizes DOH to enter into memoranda of understanding to obtain information relating to near-deaths resulting from intimate partner violence.

HB436, CD1, amends the definition of “emergency vehicle” to include sheriff division vehicles, Hawaii emergency management agency vehicles, civil defense vehicles, DOT harbors division vehicles, DLNR division of conservation and resources enforcement vehicles, and county emergency management vehicles to require approaching vehicles to slow and change lanes when nearing the emergency vehicle when it is stopped for official duties.

SB265, CD1, replaces the term “promoting prostitution” with the term “sex trafficking,” a Class A felony.  Includes the offense of sex trafficking in the Department of the Attorney General’s statewide witness program and adds various other amendments relating to sex trafficking.

SB1211, CD1, increases the expenditure ceiling on Major Disaster Fund moneys. Increases the ceiling for additional funds required for matching federal disaster relief funds.  Requires the Adjutant General to report any allotment of fund moneys or any expenditure of fund moneys to the Legislature within one month of the allotment or expenditure. Appropriates funds for deposit into the Major Disaster Fund.

SB871, CD1, authorizes the Director of Transportation to establish reciprocal licensing privileges to any person eighteen years of age or older who holds a license from another country or state, under certain conditions. Authorizes the examiner of drivers to waive the demonstration of the ability to operate a motor vehicle for individuals with licenses from other jurisdictions who receive reciprocal licensing privileges. Repeals the driver’s license reciprocity committee.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

HB444, CD1, authorizes the use of a portion of transient accommodations tax revenues for beach restoration and conservation. Makes additional general fund appropriations for the same purpose for fiscal years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

SB284, CD1, authorizes the B&F to issue $35,000,000 in reimbursable general obligation bonds and to deposit the proceeds into the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund. Appropriates $35,000,000 out of the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund for the DLNR to acquire a conservation easement and other real property interests at Turtle Bay, Oahu. Allocates TAT revenues of $1,500,000 annually to the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund. Provides that a nonprofit land conservation organization shall file an application annually with the BLNR requesting $1,500,000 from the Land Conservation Fund to be used for the reimbursement of debt service on the Turtle Bay reimbursable general obligation bonds. Appropriates $3,000,000 out of the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund to reimburse the state general fund for payment of debt service on the reimbursable general obligation bonds.

SB359, CD1, applies the state environmental response, energy, and food security tax to fossil fuels other than petroleum products and bases the tax on one million British thermal units. Removes the sunset of the various funds related to the barrel tax. Clarifies the purposes for which the environmental response revolving fund may be used. Provides for the transfer of moneys from the environmental response revolving fund into the general fund. Requires the Director of Health to report to the Legislature information regarding the environmental response revolving fund.

AGRICULTURE

HB573, CD1, establishes and appropriates funding for the Hawaii Good Agricultural Practices Program to develop and support good agricultural practices for Hawaii farms growing agricultural food products.

SB1060, CD1, allows for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects to assist the livestock industry by establishing a low-interest biosecurity loan program within the Department of Agriculture for construction, improvements, purchase of equipment and other costs related to biosecurity projects.

SB376, CD1 establishes the Hawaii Farm to School Program and a Farm to School Coordinator position.

TAXES

SB555, CD1, increases the refundable food/excise tax credit. Repeals credit for individual taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $30,000 or above and for heads of households, married couples filing jointly, and married couples filing separately, with adjusted gross incomes of $50,000 or above. Repeals residency requirement. Applies to taxable years beginning after 12/31/2015. Repeal and reenactment on 12/31/2017.

HB134, CD1, reauthorizes the counties’ authority to establish a county surcharge on state tax for a limited time period, with the surcharge to be effective until 12/31/2027, if adopted. Requires counties to adopt an ordinance to establish or extend a surcharge prior to 7/1/2016. Limits the use of surcharge revenues by counties that have already established a county surcharge on state tax to capital costs. Expands the definition of capital costs for counties with a population greater than 500,000.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM

SB1001, CD1, establishes and appropriates funds for the manufacturing development program, through which the High Technology Development Corporation may distribute grants to Hawaii manufacturers for various activities.

SB519, CD1, authorizes fines to be deposited into the tax administration special fund. Increases the balance that may be retained in the tax administration special fund in each fiscal year. Authorizes DOTAX to enforce civil penalties for operators and plan managers who fail to display the certificate of registration and registration ID numbers for transient accommodations and resort time share vacation plans. Authorizes DOTAX to issue citations for failure to provide the registration identification number or link to the number and the contact information of the local contact in an advertisement for a transient accommodation or resort time share vacation plan. Takes effect 1/1/16.

SB892, CD1, makes various appropriations for the Hawaii resilience and sustainability strategy.

ENERGY

HB1509, CD1, requires the University of Hawaii to establish collective goal of becoming net-zero with respect to energy use by January 1, 2035.

SB717, CD1, repeals existing requirement that gasoline for motor vehicles be composed of ten per cent ethanol. Effective December 31, 2015.

HB623, CD1, which increases the state’s renewable portfolio standards to 30 percent by December 31, 2020, 70 percent by December 31, 2040, and 100 percent by December 31, 2045. Requires the Public Utilities Commission to include the impact of renewable portfolio standards, if any, on the energy prices offered by renewable energy developers and the cost fossil fuel volatility in its report to the Legislature.

SB1050, CD1, requires electric utilities to file proposed community-based renewable energy tariffs with the public utilities commission by October 1, 2015. Authorizes ratepayer participation in eligible community-based renewable energy projects. (CD1)

SB1316, CD1, establishes a working group to examine the issues regarding requests to the board of directors of an association of apartment owners, condominium association, cooperative housing corporation, or planned community association regarding the installation of electric vehicle charging systems.

SB349, CD1, establishes a five-year renewable fuels production tax credit and repeals the ethanol facility tax credit. Allows qualifying taxpayers to claim a refundable income tax credit equal to 20 cents per seventy-six thousand British thermal units of qualifying renewable fuel, capped at $3,000,000 per taxable year. Caps the credit at $3,000,000 per year in aggregate. Requires DBEDT to certify all tax credits and submit a report regarding the production and sale of qualifying renewable fuels to the governor and legislature each year. Directs DOTAX to create forms for the tax credit. Applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015.

SB1214, CD1, relating to the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds.  Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Maui Electric Company, Limited, and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

SB464, CD1, requires persons charging a consumer’s credit or debit card or account for automatic renewal or continuous service offer to first obtain the consumer’s affirmative consent. Requires acknowledgment of terms, cancellation policy, and information on how to cancel the automatic renewal or continuous service to be provided to the consumer. Requires free trial offers to clearly and conspicuously disclose how to cancel the agreement prior to the consumer being charged for goods and services.

HB261, CD1, requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to post and update information on drug formularies via a public website and toll-free number for the benefit of insureds, potential insureds, and providers. Establishes a formulary accessibility working group.

SB1009, CD1, requires hotels to distribute porterage service charges to employees in full or disclose to customers that the charges are being used for other purposes.

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

SB181, CD1, allows the Department of Education to continue, until June 30, 2020, awarding high school diplomas to qualified veterans who did not receive a high school diploma as a result of compulsory induction into active service in the armed services of the United States or any person whose high school education was interrupted due to wartime practices such as internment during World War II.

HB1153, CD1, exempts qualifying totally and permanently disabled veterans from paying the state motor vehicle registration fee. Requires the Director of the Office of Veterans’ Services to report the number of qualifying veterans to the Legislature and Department of Taxation.

TRANSPARENCY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT

SB996, CD1, appropriates funds to the State Ethics Commission to design and develop a system that allows filers to electronically file required statements and reports with the State Ethics Commission.

SB654, CD1, reduces from less than $500 to less than $100, the aggregate contribution amount a candidate may receive from ten or more anonymous persons at the same political function. Takes effect on 1/1/2016.

HB179, CD1, specifies the in-state mailing address in a voter’s registration record as the forwarding address for receiving absentee ballots permanently. Requires voters seeking to have permanent absentee ballots forwarded to another address to re-apply for an absentee ballot.

SB508, CD1, requires noncandidate committees to file an additional preliminary report on October 1 of each general election year.

HB15, CD1, specifies that the Chief Election Officer is an at-will employee. Requires Elections Commission to provide notice and reason for removal of a Chief Election Officer. Requires a performance evaluation of the Chief Election Officer after a general election. Requires a public hearing on the Chief Election Officer’s performance for purposes of considering reappointment. Creates a statewide standard for the distribution of absentee ballots.

HB1491, CD1, strengthens reporting requirements for organizational reports, noncandidate reports, and late contributions reports submitted by noncandidate committees making or receiving large contributions.

FISCAL INITIATIVES

SB254, CD1, requires information on the estimated operational costs of proposed capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance costs of state-owned buildings, facilities, and other improvements to be summarized in the multi-year program and financial plan and supplemental budget, as applicable. Intends that the requirement apply to the judiciary. Effective 7/1/2016.

HB1140, CD1, provides a temporary income tax credit for the cost of upgrading or converting a qualified cesspool to a septic system or an aerobic treatment unit system, or connecting to a sewer system. Permits DOH, as a pilot program, to certify no more than 2 residential large capacity cesspools as qualified cesspools. Defines terms. Effective 7/1/2015. Sunsets 12/31/2020.

SB1312, CD1, appropriates $10,000,000 from the general revenues into the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund in FY 2014-2015 to comply with article VII, section 6, of the Hawaii State Constitution, which requires, under certain economic conditions, that the legislature provide a tax credit to state taxpayers or make a deposit into one or more funds.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

SB1177, CD1, appropriates funds to establish four full-time equivalent positions with the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to address the findings contained in Auditor’s Report No. 14-11, that the Foundation needs to improve its management to ensure the accountability, accessibility, and protection of the Foundation’s resources.

OTHERS

SB868, CD1, authorizes county liquor commissions to prescribe regulations on dancing in establishments licensed to serve alcohol. Requires liquor commissions that do regulate dancing to adopt or amend administrative rules, no later than October 1, 2015, regarding dancing in premises licensed to sell liquor for consumption thereon and include a definition of “dancing” in those rules.

HB1090, HD2, prohibits non-compete agreements and restrictive covenants that forbid post-employment competition for employees of a technology business to stimulate economic development in Hawaii’s technology business sector.

HB1366, CD1, appropriates $500,000 to perform due diligence, plan, and enter into negotiations to acquire the Alii Place building in Downtown Honolulu to provide office space for state governmental agencies and offices.

Hawaii Senate Approves 160 Bills in Final Reading

The full Senate today passed 160 bills including measures to protect undeveloped land on Oahu’s North Shore, increase the food/excise tax credit, and ensure funding so that Hawai‘i’s elderly are cared for. capital

“I am proud of the Senate’s accomplishments this session,” said Senate Majority Leader, Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “We resolved a number of lingering issues, including Turtle Bay. We also provided support for some of our most fragile members of our community; the homeless, our seniors, our preschoolers, as well as provided safeguards for our natural resources.”

Senators today also approved several measures that include provisions to support the Senate’s Legislative Agenda set forth at the beginning of the 2015 Session to move Hawai‘i towards a more resilient and sustainable state.

“The budget that was passed today is one that is fiscally prudent, yet addresses many of the priorities of the Senate and the House. Although we were working with a lean budget, we were able to position the State to be in a better position not just for this biennium, but for years to come,” said Senator Jill Tokuda (Dist 24 – Kāne‘ohe, Kāne‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, Āhuimanu), Chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee. The State budget bill HB500 CD1 approved nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

A few of the bills that the Senate approved today include:

  • Autism Coverage: SB791 CD1 would mandate that insurance companies cover up to $25,000 a year in treatment until a child turns 14.
  • Turtle Bay: SB284 CD1 allows the state to enter into an agreement with the owners of Turtle Bay that would protect 665 acres of undeveloped land on the North Shore of Oahu.
  • Free Dual Credit Programs for High-Schoolers: SB374 CD1 would waive college tuition for high school students in dual credit programs, such as Running Start and Jump Start, at the University of Hawai‘i’s community colleges.
  • Health Connector Assistance: SB1028 CD1 would provide $2 million next year for the health insurance marketplace.
  • Food/Excise Tax Credit: SB555 CD1 would increase the food/excise tax credit, which hasn’t been changed since it was established in 2007.
  • Preschool Open Doors: SB64 CD1 would restore $6 million necessary to run the Preschool Open Doors Program, the statewide school readiness program, next year.
  • Community-Based Renewable Energy Projects: SB1050 CD1 would establish a community-based renewable energy program, which allows electric utility customers to participate in renewable energy projects that produce electricity, which they can sell back to electric utility companies.
  • Barrel Tax: SB359 CD1 would fund the Environmental Response Revolving Fund with the general fund instead of the barrel tax to ensure there is a consistent stream of funding that supplies investments in clean energy, local agricultural production and environmental emergency responses.
  • Kupuna Care: SB964 CD1 would provide an additional $3 million to fund the Kupuna Care program in fiscal year 2016, which is in addition to the base budget of $4.8 million.
  • Sex Trafficking: SB265 CD1 would ban sex trafficking and raise the penalties to a class A felony and promote the concept of treating prostitutes as victims rather than criminals.
  • Homeless ID cards: SB273 CD1 would allow homeless people to apply for state identification cards even without the required state and federal documents if a social service organization, attorney, member of the clergy, correctional institution staff or health professional presents a signed statement certifying their personal information. It would waive fees for homeless individuals.
  • Ethanol Repeal: SB717 CD1 repeals the existing requirement that gasoline for motor vehicles be composed of 10 percent ethanol.
  • Hawai‘i Resiliency and Sustainability: SB892 CD1 appropriates funding for Hawai‘i resilience and sustainability strategy in the areas of broadband, energy efficiency and smart grid, and water and sewer infrastructure.
  • Affirmative Consent: SB387, CD1 would establish an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawai‘i’s executive policy on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
  • Multi-Track: SB1345 CD1would require the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools.

The bills approved today were also approved by the House and will be forwarded to the Governor for his signature, veto, or passage without his signature.

Big Island Principal Awarded $25,000 for Excellence in School Leadership

The Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award from the Island Insurance Foundation is given annually to a public school principal who is visionary, community-minded, and has an entrepreneurial spirit.

Principal Dean Cevallos, center, with (from left): Supt. Kathryn Matayoshi, Principal Stacie Kunihisa, Principal Malaea Wetzel and Tyler Tokioka, Island Insurance Foundation President.

Principal Dean Cevallos, center, with (from left): Supt. Kathryn Matayoshi, Principal Stacie Kunihisa, Principal Malaea Wetzel and Tyler Tokioka, Island Insurance Foundation President.

Keaau High School Principal Dean Cevallos was honored Thursday night as The Island Insurance Foundation’s 11th annual Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award winner at the annual Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation Dinner.

Named for Island Insurance Company Ltd.’s founder, the award includes a gift of $25,000 — a $10,000 personal cash award and $15,000 to go towards a school project of the principal’s choice. The honor is given to a public school principal who is visionary, community-minded, and has an entrepreneurial spirit — qualities of leadership that Tokioka exemplified in his own company and in the business community.

“Principal Cevallos exemplifies the type of leadership that can transform our public schools into model learning institutions,” said Tyler Tokioka, Island Insurance Foundation president.

“By recognizing outstanding principals such as Dean, it is our hope that his accomplishments will inspire others in public education.”

The Island Insurance Foundation also presented a $2,000 cash award to the top two semi-finalists, Principal Malaea Wetzel of Haleiwa Elementary, who won the state-level National Distinguished Principal award last weekend, and Principal Stacie Kunihisa of Kanoelani Elementary. The other principals nominated for their excellent leadership were:

  • Bruce Anderson, Maui High School
  • Frank Fernandes, Kaimuki Middle School
  • Shelley Ferrara, Mauka Lani Elementary School
  • Steve Franz, King Kamehameha III Elementary School
  • Debra Knight, Nanaikapono Elementary School
  • Corey Nakamura, Wilcox Elementary School
  • Deborah Nekomoto, Kapunahala Elementary School
  • Dennis O’Brien, E.B. DeSilva Elementary School
  • James Sunday, Radford High School
  • Sean Wong, Ala Wai Elementary School

Each received $1,000 and a commemorative plaque, which were presented to them at a recognition ceremony on March 28.

Dean Cevallos has been principal of Keaau High School for nearly four years. Cevallos implemented numerous programs to improve performance such as an in-school detention/lockout classroom (which reduced schools suspensions by 50 percent), a 9th grade college-prep class, tutoring programs, a senior school-level counselor to help students in accessing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and scholarships, and parent/student nights to assist in the financial aid and college application processes.

Cevallos plans to use the prize money to upgrade the school’s technology infrastructure.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Passes Conference Committee

Senate and House conferees today reached a compromise on the bill that would establish a medical marijuana dispensary system in the islands.

Medical Marijuana

“This is a measure that many stakeholders have been working on for a very long time. It’s taken much discussion, collaboration and compromise to get where we are today and we believe this is a good measure that will get the medical marijuana dispensary system up and rolling,” said Senator Will Espero (D-19 ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages), chair of the Senate conference committee. “We are now on the verge of having a safe, secure product for our patients who need this, particularly the children who will benefit tremendously from medical cannabis.”

HB321, CD1 would allow applications for licenses to be available in the State of Hawai‘i starting January 4, 2016, with medical marijuana dispensaries being allowed to begin operations no sooner than July 15, 2016. A $5,000 non-refundable fee would be required to apply for a license.  An approved dispensary would pay a fee of $75,000 for a license, with a $50,000 annual renewal fee.  A total of eight dispensary licenses will be distributed throughout the state: three on Oahu, two on Maui, two on Hawai‘i Island, and one on Kaua‘i. Dispensary licenses will be selected on a merit basis and distributed through the State Department of Health (DOH).

The measure requires all dispensary licensees and employees to be subject to a criminal and background check. It restricts medical marijuana dispensaries within 750 feet of a playground, public housing complex or school. It also authorizes licensed dispensaries to be subject to annual unannounced inspections of its operations by the DOH.

The measure will be voted on by the full House and Senate on Thursday, May 7. If the bill passes both houses, it will be forwarded to the Governor for his signature, veto, or passage without his signature.

Video of Another Explosion at Lava Lake – Tourists Don’t Know What to Think!

A portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall collapsed at 1:20 pm today, impacting the lava lake and triggering a small explosion of spatter and a robust particle-laden plume.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Fist-size clasts were deposited around the closed Halemaʻumaʻu visitor overlook.

A sequence of still images taken from the webcam positioned at the closed Halemaʻumaʻu overlook, spanning about six seconds.

explosion seriesThe collapse originated from a portion of the wall directly below the webcam, but just out of view. Large pieces of molten spatter can be seen flying through the air and being deposited on the crater walls below the camera.

This Quicktime movie shows a small explosive event that occurred at 1:20pm today at the summit lava lake. A collapse of a portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall impacted the lake and triggered an explosion of spatter. Fist-size clasts were found scattered along the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater near the  closed visitor overlook.  (Click to view Video)

This Quicktime movie shows a small explosive event that occurred at 1:20pm today at the summit lava lake. A collapse of a portion of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater wall impacted the lake and triggered an explosion of spatter. Fist-size clasts were found scattered along the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater near the closed visitor overlook. (Click to view Video)

Sheriffs Being Recruited Across the State of Hawaii

The Department of Public Safety (PSD) is looking for a few good men and women to join the State Sheriff Division.

Sheriff

Recruitment will open on the Department of Human Resources and Development (DHRD) website for a three-week period from Monday, May 4, until Sunday, May 24.  PSD is seeking applicants willing to serve on every island.

“This recruitment will help the department fill several positions,” said Sheriff Robin Nagamine. “We are looking for people who possess traits and characteristics like physical and mental fitness, alertness, tact, integrity, honesty, good judgement and the ability to deal effectively with the public.”

To qualify, the applicant must be a high school graduate; be able to demonstrate knowledge of English grammar, spelling and punctuation; have the ability to read and comprehend complex written material; write a clear, factual report; and have at least two years of work experience which demonstrates these abilities.

After the initial recruitment, chosen applicants will be tested on physical fitness (pushups, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run) and have to complete a written test to gauge their reading, writing and comprehension skills.  They will also take a pre-employment law enforcement assessment. After successful completion of the physical ability test, written test and the pre-employment assessment, the applicant may be scheduled for an interview with the department.

Individuals who pass the testing and are selected from the recruitment will participate in a 5-month Sheriff Recruit Class, which will consist of classroom and on-the-job training in the laws, rules, regulations, principles, practices, procedures and techniques of law enforcement; the operation of firearms and other equipment; as well as physical conditioning.

You can find more information on how to become a Deputy Sheriff by going to the links below. (NOTE: The official application for recruitment will not open on the Department of Human Resources and Development Jobseekers page until May 4.)

Hawaii Island:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/hawaii/default.cfm?action=jobbulletin&JobID=1126059

Kauai:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/hawaii/default.cfm?action=jobbulletin&JobID=1126060

Maui:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/hawaii/default.cfm?action=jobbulletin&JobID=1126061

Oahu:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/hawaii/default.cfm?action=jobbulletin&JobID=1126898

Big Island Chocolate Festival NEXT WEEKEND!

Show the gal in your life how much you care Mother’s Day weekend with tickets to the decadent Big Island Chocolate Festival gala 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday, May 9 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i.

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Indulge in both savory and sweet chocolate creations by top chefs complemented by the harp and violin duo String Beings, fine wines and handcrafted ales, Bacardi cocktails, chocolate sculpting, chocolate body painting and dancing.

Among the culinary offerings, festival host The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i is serving savory cocoa nib-crusted beef long rib with white corn and pickled roots, plus Waialua Estate chocolate pate with caramelized pineapple for dessert.

In addition, Hawai‘i Community College students offer an all-you-can-eat cuisine bar with a Chicken Mole Rice Bowl, make-your-own spinach/strawberry salad and tasty tofu and fish poke. Big Island Candies joins this year’s festival sharing buttery shortbread cookies topped with luscious Amoretti cookie spreads.

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Fun includes voting for your favorite culinary station while chefs, chocolatiers and cacao growers also vie in a variety of contests judged by a stable of celebrity chefs: Internationally acclaimed Derek Poirier of Valrhona, Donald Wressell of Guittard. Top 10 Pastry Chef in America Stanton Ho and Kona’s own Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine founder Sam Choy.

Awards will also be presented to statewide college culinary students competing in a chocolate food competition earlier that day.

The festive gala caps three days of choc-licious fun and hands-on learning opportunities presented by the Kona Cacao Association. All activities are open to the public and benefit the “Equip the Kitchens” campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui and a capital campaign to build a community kitchen at the Waldorf-inspired Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

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Gala admission is $75 with VIP tickets for $100. Find gala and festival seminars details, plus tix info at www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. Get updates on facebook and #BIChocoFest. Questions? Phone 808-324-6100.

Special room rates of $299 including breakfast for two are offered by The Fairmont Orchid. For accommodations, book with the hotel at 808-885-2000 and mention “Big Island Chocolate Festival.”

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.

Big Island Legislators Secure Over $200 Million in Capital Improvement Project Funding

Big Island legislators secured over $200 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for various projects across the island in HB500 CD1, the state budget bill for the next fiscal biennium.

capital

The proposed budget includes funding for various highway improvements, monies for Big Island schools, and continued financial support to complete the Kona Judiciary Complex.  The measure is scheduled next week for final reading in both the House and Senate.

Hilo

“Our Hawaii Island Legislative delegation has worked very hard to secure funding for many of the much needed projects throughout our island,” said Rep. Richard Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano).  “Although we didn’t get everything we asked for and that is needed for our communities, our residents can be assured that we will continue to work hard during the interim to secure funding for those projects.”

“We have been successful in securing funds for Capital Improvement Projects for Hilo although we were faced with fiscal restraints,” added Sen. Gilbert Kahele (Hilo).

“For the last several years, I have been working with the tech community to increase the availability of jobs for Hawaii Island residents,” said Rep. Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo).  “The $8.5 million available for the purchase of a Workforce Development Facility to support tech activities demonstrates the state’s commitment to growing this important economic sector.”

“House District 2 will see funding for schools, infrastructure improvements, and major construction for our airport, harbor, and roads,” added Rep. Clift Tsuji (Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa, Waiakea).

“I am a strong supporter of alternative learning for our young men and women, and so I am grateful that an additional $1.7 million is being invested for the Youth Challenge Academy in Keaukaha. The Hilo Airport and Harbor continue to receive funding for necessary improvements.

“Other smaller projects are just as important, like Waiakea High School’s batting cage and pipeline replacement along Nohea Street and Santos Lane.  Regardless of the amount, project dollars will improve our quality of life and provide continued economic activity.”

Kohala, Waimea

“Two of my priorities are farming and agriculture and I am pleased that three projects in Senate District 4 have received funding,” said Sen. Lorraine Inouye (Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona).  “After being invited to visit the Kohala Ditch to witness the damage in December, improvements and repairs to the ditch became my top priority for the future of agriculture. With the collaboration of many constituents and the State Department of Agriculture, we submitted a CIP request and were approved for $1.5 million.

“The Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant, is another project and my office staff and I have met with them to clarify their needs” she added.  “This operation is vital to the farmers in the greater Waimea community. A CIP for $1 million to help repair their equipment has also been awarded. And finally, for Waipio Valley, and specifically Ha Ola o Waipio Valley, a GIA in the amount of $150,000 has been approved for flood control and stream bank stabilization work.”

“I’m pleased the budget contains funding for North Kohala and South Kohala and makes progress on locally grown produce and much needed improvements for our public schools,” said Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala).

Puna, Ka’u

“For Puna & Ka’u districts, I’m happy to announce that our district schools will receive $2.3 million for laptops and the school infrastructure needed to implement the ‘One on one’ computer learning program, starting with Pahoa and Mountain View public schools,” said Sen. Russell Ruderman (Puna, Ka’u).

“This will expand the program that has been so successful in Keaau Elementary & Intermediate schools. Our Puna public school students, many of whom are extremely challenged economically, will have the tools to compete in our modern computer-based workplace.”

“Lower Puna is the fastest growing district in the State and I appreciate that the current budget recognizes our road and traffic problems by allocating $15 million for improvements to Highway 130,” added Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (Puna).

Kona

“After many years fighting for projects like the Kona Courthouse, I was so pleased to see our team’s collaboration pay off for the Big Island,” added Sen. Josh Green (Kona, Ka‘u).

“The Kona Courthouse was a top priority for me and I’m very thankful that we now have full funding and the project will move forward,” said Rep. Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau).  “The funds in the budget for the airport are also really important for Kona’s future—the federal inspections stations will cement Kona as a destination for international arrivals to the state, and the planned regional ARFF training facility will serve as a source of revenue to keep our airports systems sustainable.

“We were gratified the two projects in District 5 received grant-in-aid money,” said Rep. Richard Creagan (Na’alehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona).  “The community kitchen project at Kona Pacific Charter School will receive $1.2 million.  This project will help provide healthy food and value added products to the Kona community.

“The Community Enrichment and Historical Center in Precinct 3 will receive $800,000 which should help complete this very important and long-awaited project.”

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

  • $55 million in continued funding for the design and construction of a Judiciary Complex in Kona
  • $4.99 million for photovoltaic projects for East Hawaii HHSC region (I believe this was bundled up in last year’s CIP for HHSC)
  • $1 million for the design and construction of a Kamuela post-harvest facility and vacuum cooling plant
  • $1.5 million for improvements to the Kohala ditch irrigation system
  • $30.212 million for the construction of a new combined support maintenance shop complex for Hawaii Army National Guard at the Keaukaha military reservation
  • $1.675 million for Youth Challenge Academy renovations and improvements at Keaukaha military reservation
  • $300,000 for parking improvements at Kealakehe Elementary School
  • $1 million for the plans, design, construction and equipment for the transition from Keaau Elementary School to Keonepoko Elementary School
  • $230,000 for the construction of drainage improvements and a raised covered walkway at Mountain View Elementary School
  • $2.3 million for laptop computers and the installation of necessary infrastructure for laptop use in Senate District 2 schools, especially at Pahoa High and Intermediate School and Mountain View Public Schools
  • $450,000 for a new baseball batting cage at Waiakea High School
  • $1.58 million for the design of a new classroom building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School
  • $300,000 for parking improvements at Kealakehe Elementary School
  • $2 million for the design of Building A phase 1 renovations at Hilo Intermediate School
  • $8.5 million for the land acquisition, design, construction and equipment for a multi-purpose workforce development processing facility
  • $330,000 for improvements to the research campus in the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park
  • $1 million for the design and construction for Pu’u Wa’awa’a structure improvements and dam compliance
  • $400,000 for the plans and design for improvements at the North Kawaihae small boat harbor
  • $600,000 for the land acquisition and design for a community center in Waiakea Uka
  • $550,000 for the replacement of water lines and service laterals along Nohea Street and Santos Lane
  • $3.5 million for airfield improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $3.89 million for the demolition of existing structures at the west ramp and construction of site improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $61 million for the design and construction of a new airport rescue firefighters regional training facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole
  • $2.5 million for the plans and design of a federal inspection station at Kona International Airport at Keahole
  • $50,000 for a feasibility study of constructing a small commercial airport in south Puna
  • $1.425 million for physical modifications to improve navigational safety and operational efficiencies at Hilo Harbor
  • $660,000 for land acquisition to extend the Daniel K. Inouye Highway from the Hilo terminus to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway
  • $15 million for repair and maintenance of feeder roads and alternate routes for Highway 130
  • $2.45 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements to widen the two lane highway to four lanes or implement alternate alignments
  • $3.6 million for Kohala Mountain Road drainage improvements by mile post 10.60
  • $8 million for the rehabilitation of Ninole Bridge along Mamalahoa Highway (route 11)
  • $1.5 million for the construction of portable trailers at Hawaii Community College
  • $800,000 to the Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council #1 for the construction of Milolii community enrichment and historical center (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $150,000 to the Panaewa Community Alliance for the design of the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $285,000 to the Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Science for the design and construction of a certified commercial kitchen (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $1.2 million to the Friends of Kona Pacific Charter School for the design, construction and equipment for community food kitchen for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $315,000 to the Kailapa Community Association for the design and construction of the Kailapa community resource center (Grant-in-Aid)