POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2009

Child care plan delayed to Feb. 1

The state Department of Human Services has decided to roll back to Feb. 1 its change in a new subsidy schedule for child care.

The initial plan was supposed to start on Jan. 1.

The department said yesterday that to ease the transition, it is working with licensed child-care providers to obtain federal assistance that offers support for child care, rent and other necessities.

“;The actions we are taking will enable parents to continue their employment or education and keep keiki in their current child-care settings at least through June,”; department Director Lillian Koller said. “;These measures will also help child-care providers maintain their enrollment.”;

Koller said the state needs to adopt the new schedule or else face running out of funds by the end of February.

The department helps nearly 7,800 families statewide by providing subsidies to care for children from birth through age 13.


72 pages of testimony for election changes

The state Office of Elections received 72 pages of testimony by yesterday morning over changes to the rules governing elections in Hawaii.

Only two people testified in person during a public hearing on the proposals. County election clerks submitted written testimony asking for more specific language about allowing election results to be transmitted over telephone lines or the Internet and asking Chief Election Officer Kevin Cronin to change a provision allowing the clerks to waive the requirement for absentee voters to apply for a ballot under special circumstances.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit that challenged the use of the Internet to send election results submitted written testimony opposing that section of the rules, saying electronic transmission increases the chance of fraud.

Cronin said he will consider the testimony and come up with a final version of the rules by the end of the month, before he resigns from his position.

That version needs to be approved by the attorney general and the governor.


House approves $30M for rail EIS and design

The U.S. House approved $30 million yesterday for Oahu's rail transit project.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said the money will be used for preliminary engineering, the final environmental impact statement and final project design.

The transit funds were part of six 2010 appropriation measures that have already passed the Senate. The measure now goes to President Barack Obama.

The omnibus appropriations measure includes $446.8 billion for military construction and the Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Commerce, Justice and State departments.

Abercrombie said the measure includes $3,435,000 for the Kapolei Interchange project and $3,419,400 for the bus systems in Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties.


School board meetings to stay in town for 2010

The Board of Education voted last night to keep its general business meetings in Honolulu in 2010 to save money.

The board voted in May to keep the meetings in Room 404 of the Queen Liliuokalani Building at 1390 Miller St. through 2009 to cut operational costs. Some of the meetings were held on the neighbor islands. In a news release last night, the board said it will continue to hold community meetings on the neighbor islands.



Land trust buys Molokai ranch land

WAILUKU » The Molokai Land Trust has purchased Kawaikapu Ranch, safeguarding close to 200 acres of pristine watershed.

The trust says it will grant a perpetual conservation easement to Maui County. That will permanently protect the land as a habitat for native plants and animals and a location for subsistence gathering, archaeological preservation and education.

The purchase was completed after the trust obtained $768,000 from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Legacy Lands Conservation Program and $480,000 from the county open-space preservation fund.

The land was purchased from Tracy and Greg Gordon.

Gordon says his family approached the trust about buying the property because it had become difficult to control invasive species, erosion and animal damage.