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HAWAII-LEGISLATURE

Hawaii lawmakers vow to address high cost of living

HONOLULU (AP) — Lawmakers are opening a new session of the Hawaii Legislature with vows to address the state's punishingly high cost of living so that families don't have to abandon the islands for cheaper places. House Speaker Scott Saiki says lawmakers need to fix problems working families face on a daily basis. The House and Senate Democratic majorities and Gov. David Ige have already agreed to the outlines of the proposals. Ige says there's much to still work out, including how the state would find and train enough teachers to staff early childhood education centers. He says bold action is needed.

TOUR HELICOPTER-HAWAII

Report: Visibility low when Hawaii tour helicopter crashed

HONOLULU (AP) — A person who was near a remote Hawaii site where a tour helicopter crashed and killed seven people last month has told investigators that visibility was about 20 feet at the time because of fog and rain. The account was provided in a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report about the crash made public on Wednesday. The unidentified person was on a hiking trail in Koke'e State Park on Kauai island and described hearing a hovering helicopter followed by a high-pitched whine. The NTSB report also says the pilot was on his eighth and final scheduled 50-minute tour flight of the day.

AP-US-BASE-CLOSURE-HAWAII

3 who brought mortar round to gate at Pearl Harbor released

HONOLULU (AP) — Military officials say three people were taken into custody and later released after being found with a mortar round in their vehicle at a gate to the sprawling Pearl Harbor military base. A base spokesman said Wednesday that there was no explosive material inside the round. He doesn't know what the trio planned to do but doesn't think they were trying to get on the base. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service says it was an “inert training round” and doesn't believe terrorism played a role. The Navy said the base was shut down to traffic late Tuesday while a bomb squad investigated the vehicle that appeared without authorization.

AP-US-MARINE-ARRESTED-NEBRASKA

Marine sentenced to 3 years for illegal firearms

HONOLULU (AP) — A Marine stationed in Hawaii has pleaded guilty to possessing unlawful firearms. Ali Al-kazahg was accused of trying to bring weapons onto an Air Force base while home in Nebraska. His sentence includes three years confinement and a bad conduct discharge. His sister says the military overreacted and treated him unfairly because he's a person of color. She says the Michigan-born, Nebraska-raised son of Iraqi refugees is the target of racism. He also pleaded guilty to fraudulent enlistment and making false official statements.

MILITARY BASE-GUN BAN

Policy restricts carrying guns onto Offutt Air Force Base

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new policy at Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha bars military and civilian personnel from transporting privately-owned firearms onto base. The order came from Col. Gavin Marks, who assumed command of the U.S. Air Force 55th Wing in June, following a mandatory review of the base’s defense and anti-terrorism plan. It also comes in the wake of high-profile gun incidents last year on U.S. military bases, including one in May at Offutt where 22-year-old Marine Pfc. Ali Al-Kazahg was arrested while carrying guns, ammunition and a silencer. Al-Kazahg, who is stationed in Hawaii, pleaded guilty Tuesday in a court martial hearing to several counts.

MAUNA KEA-NEW RULES SIGNED

Hawaii governor signs new Mauna Kea administrative rules

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii's governor signed into law a new set of administrative rules for management of land on the state's highest mountain. Democratic Gov. David Ige approved the new regulations Monday for the the University of Hawaii's oversight of Mauna Kea. The rules are expected to go into effect Jan. 23. The rules prohibit littering, speeding, noise disturbances, fires, drugs, alcohol, drones, and camping. They are also intended to regulate commercial activities, tours and motorized traffic, including off-road driving. The university's Board of Regents adopted the rules in November following a meeting that included testimony from 99 people.