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For Sunday, January 23, 2011

By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services


Landfill hearing set

City Council members Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo and Stanley Chang have scheduled a hearing on the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill debris spill that littered Leeward Coast beaches and has temporarily shut down the landfill. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. tomorrow in the City Council Committee Room at Honolulu Hale.

Bill would explore lottery options

A state lawmaker has unveiled legislation to study the pros and cons of Hawaii joining a multistate lottery.

The measure by Sen. Malama Solomon of the Big Island would require the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to examine Hawaii's potential participation in the Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries.

Hawaii currently bars all gambling, and gambling proposals arise and die in every legislative session.

But the state's difficult financial situation is prodding legislators to examine moneymaking proposals.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro, chairman of the House Finance Committee, says he expects serious debate on gambling ideas.

$250 rebate aids Medicare recipients

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono says more than 20,000 seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries in Hawaii have received $250 checks to help cover the gap in their prescription drug coverage.

The Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap begins once total drug expenses reach $2,510 and ends at $5,726. Recipients must cover all of their prescription costs in between.

The $250 one-time, tax-free rebate check is supposed to help cover the "donut hole" gap.

Hirono said Friday the new health care law is expected to completely close the "donut hole" by 2020.

The Democratic congresswoman says more than 3 million seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries across the country have so far received their "donut hole" checks.

State joins in support of health law

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced that Hawaii will join several other states in legal papers defending the health care reform law that President Barack Obama and Congress enacted last year.

In a statement Friday, the Democratic governor called the law a "momentous step forward" that preserved the best elements of Hawaii's long-standing health care statutes.

Democrats say the national law has awarded $22 million to help Hawaii families, including nearly 20,500 seniors, pay their prescription drug expenses.

Hawaii joined a friend-of-the-court brief with California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon, New York and Vermont.

It was filed Wednesday in the appeal of a federal district court ruling in Michigan that upheld the law.


$18 million budgeted for Big Isle trails

Hawaii County expects to pay $18 million for 4.8 miles of trails and greenways through Waimea, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports.

The cost figure is in a draft environmental assessment released Friday for the Waimea Trails and Greenways project. Community members may comment through Feb. 21.

The first increment, about one mile between Lindsey Road and Kahawai Street, would cost about $5.8 million. The second stage is expected to be from Kahawai Street to the county transfer station.

From the refuse station to Kamuela View Estates and from Church Row to Lindsey Road are considered increments three and four, but the order of those increments has not been determined. The preferred route includes 10 stream crossings, including bridges and culverts, which increase the project's price, the document said.

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