State briefs 2/15


Hawaii lawmakers explore more tax breaks for films

HONOLULU — The Senate committee on the arts has approved a bill aimed at convincing more people to shoot films and TV shows in Hawaii.

Sen. David Ige introduced the proposal, which extends and increases tax credits for the film industry.

The arts committee approved an amended version of the bill Thursday. The Senate economic development committee approved the bill previously.

Ige says the high cost of shooting films in Hawaii deters moviemakers from coming.

He says tax incentives could help filmmaking grow to be a billion dollar industry in the state.

Opponents of the bill say Hawaii’s uniqueness is enough incentive to attract filmmakers.

Hawaii has been the site of several popular TV shows and movies including “Lost,” ”Hawaii Five-0” and “The Descendants.”

Coast Guard says laser pointed at plane

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard says someone pointed a laser at a C-130 aircraft as it approached Kalaeloa Airfield in Honolulu.

Hawaii News Now reports that Coast Guard officials say the incident on Oahu occurred Tuesday night as the plane was approaching the runway.

The Coast Guard says it was the third laser-related incident on Coast Guard aircraft since October.

Donors give $366K toward Caldwell luau, transition

HONOLULU — Corporate and individual donors paid nearly $366,000 toward an inaugural luau for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. The funds have also been used to help pay for a transition team helping Caldwell pick his cabinet.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday that the Mayoral Transition Committee has spent just over $174,000 so far, mostly on the luau.

Among the contributors are Hilton Worldwide, the United Public Workers union and Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii. Donations range mostly from a few hundred to $10,000 each. One donor, Law Office of Lawrence Kumabe LLC, contributed $11,000.

The committee agreed to release the names of the donors after a city councilwoman and another group questioned their anonymity.

Lex Smith, the committee’s president, says donors weren’t offered anything for contributing besides aseats at the luau.

Honolulu man found guilty in drug case

HONOLULU — A Honolulu man has been found guilty in a methamphetamine drug case and will spend at least 10 years in prison.

A federal jury on Wednesday found 56-year-old Mario Cesar Torres of Waipahu guilty of distributing methamphetamine and conspiracy.

U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors say Torres faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years and could be sentenced to life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 3.

Prosecutors say Torres delivered about a pound of methamphetamine on two occasions, and was the driver on a third transaction in which a passenger delivered about one pound of methamphetamine.

The drug transactions occurred between August 2010 and January 2011.

Hawaii buys Kailua hillside land in $1.2M deal

KAILUA, Oahu — The state of Hawaii has closed a $1.2 million deal with Kaneohe Ranch to buy more than 67 acres of hillside property in Kailua.

The deal announced Wednesday is part of an effort to preserve natural wetlands. The hillside includes gullies that drain rainwater into the marsh and ocean.

Kaneohe Ranch pledged to sell the land to the state in 2009 and officials have since worked on securing funds. Under the deal, the state will pay $450,000 and a federal program run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will pay $720,000.

Chairman William Aila of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources says the land is important for public education, recreation, endangered species restoration and watershed protection.

Historic trading post building razed

LIHUE, Kauai — The remains of a historic building on Kauai that was destroyed in a fire has been razed.

The Garden Island reports that the Hanamaulu Trading Co., which housed the former Hanamaulu Post Office and several other businesses, was taken away by front loader on Wednesday.

The fire in December caused an estimated $1.3 million in damages.

Owners Deane and Joaquina Abben hope to rebuild. Joacquina Abben says the aim is to have the rebuilt structure look almost the same as the old one.

Abben’s husband bought the buildings from Lihue Plantation in 1977, and moved them to the site the following year while the couple lived in the small plantation camp outside of Hanamaulu.

The couple is in the process of getting bids to rebuild.