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State / In Brief

July 7, 2012
The Associated Press

Governor signs law on hospital fees

HONOLULU - Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed a bill into law that makes private hospitals pay fees that could help cover health care costs for the poor.

The governor had previously put the bill on his veto list, but he signed it earlier this week.

He had said there were concerns about the effect and fairness of the measure.

Under the bill, private hospitals would pay $42 million in fees to get $77 million in federal money in return.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Josh Green said the governor stepped up and did the right thing for Hawaii's health care system.


$75.3M released for airport projects

HONOLULU - Gov. Neil Abercrombie has released more than $75.3 million for Honolulu International Airport projects.

Abercrombie said Thursday that the capital improvement projects are necessary for the state's primary air travel hub to meet growing demand from business, tourist and local travelers.

The largest amount, $13.2 million, will replace 12 passenger-loading bridges at the Ewa concourse. Other projects include $11.6 million for the first phase of a consolidated car rental facility and $2.8 million for metal roof replacement and sidewalk improvements at the international terminal.

The airport covers more than 4,500 acres and is larger than Waikiki. It's served by 27 international and domestic carriers, three interisland airlines and four commuter airlines. At any given hour, there are about 10,000 passengers, employees or visitors at the airport.


Less food stamp fraud identified

HONOLULU - Hawaii officials attribute a decline in food stamp fraud to cutbacks in investigator positions.

According to state data, there were 275 disqualifications last fiscal year, a 50 percent drop compared with the same period five years earlier. At the same time, the number of Hawaii residents receiving food stamps has surged 78 percent to nearly 160,000.

State officials say six of 13 investigator positions were lost in 2009, leading to fewer investigations. They also attribute the drop to changes in the national program that streamlined reporting for welfare recipients but created fewer checkpoints for fraud.

The state is restoring the six positions.

Officials attribute the surge in food stamp recipients to the sluggish economy and rule changes that expanded eligibility.


Fireworks display started too early

HONOLULU - This year's Ala Moana fireworks display started five minutes early.

Ala Moana Center says the fireworks were supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday but a miscue by the fireworks provider set off the display a few minutes too early.

The timing of the fireworks set off numerous confused comments from spectators sounding off on social media sites.

An estimated 45,000 people packed the area for the 14-minute show.

Police said there was a 14 percent drop in fireworks-related complaints on Oahu during this year's Fourth of July celebrations. This was the second July Fourth under Oahu's fireworks ban, which prohibits most forms of fireworks except some firecrackers with a permit.


Oahu-bound traveler dies on stopover

HAGATNA, Guam - An elderly man traveling from Hong Kong to Honolulu died during a stop on Guam.

Guam International Airport officials said the traveler had a heart attack Tuesday and that rescue personnel tried to revive him.

Police said he arrived on a United Airlines flight. United spokesman Koji Nagata said the man was taken to a local hospital.

Guam Memorial Hospital Nursing Supervisor Cely Mangrobang said the 69-year-old man was dead upon arrival.



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