Latest Hawaii news, sports, business and entertainment at 4:20 p.m. HAST

DECRIMINALIZED DRUG BILL

Hawaii bill would decriminalize 'dangerous' drug possession

HONOLULU (AP) — Possession of small amounts of drugs that are considered dangerous would be decriminalized in Hawaii under a proposed bill. Lawmakers say the bill would make it a misdemeanor to possess less than 2 grams of dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, morphine and cocaine. Authorities say the bill could reduce the amount of money spent on enforcement. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee heard comments on the bill Friday. Acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto testified in person against the bill arguing that drug defendants are offered multiple opportunities and programs to avoid criminal convictions.

AP-US-AVOCADO-PEST-DISCOVERED

Invasive bug found feeding on avocado plants in Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii entomologists have confirmed the presence of an invasive bug found feeding on avocado leaves across the state, most recently discovered in Maui. The state Department of Agriculture says the avocado lace bug was first discovered on Oahu in December and was subsequently identified on Hawaii Island and Maui. Department officials have not confirmed the presence of the bug on Kauai. Department officials say the infested Maui plants located Thursday in retail outlets, were destroyed or treated. Experts say the bug feeds on the leaves of avocado plants extracting nutrients and gradually destroying the plants. It is unclear how the bug was introduced in Hawaii.

OUTBREAK-HAWAII TOURIST

Japanese man who visited Hawaii confirmed with coronavirus

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials are trying to learn more about a Japanese tourist's travel in the islands because he has been confirmed to have the coronavirus. Officials say the man visited the islands of Maui and Oahu from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7. When he returned home to Japan, he was confirmed to have coronavirus. Hawaii officials are tracking who had had close contact with and learn more about his time in the state, including his travel details. Japan has about 250 confirmed cases of the new disease that started in Wuhan, a city in central China, in December.

FIRE ANT LEGISLATION

Hawaii bills would regulate best methods to fight fire ants

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Two bills introduced by Hawaii legislators would require the state agriculture department to identify the best ways to fight fire ants. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported the bills would require the department to work with the Hawaii Ant Lab to identify best practices to control the insects. The House bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Nicole Lowen would require pest control operators to use guidelines posted on the agriculture department's website. The Senate bill introduced by Democratic Sen. Russell Ruderman would allow the state Pest Control Board to revoke, suspend or refuse to renew licenses of operators that do not follow the practices.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Hawaiian Electric renewable energy use increased last year

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaiian Electric says its use of renewable energy in 2019 increased over 2018 despite the unavailability of geothermal energy production on the Big Island and significantly lower wind energy production. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Hawaiian Electric says energy generated by renewable resources increased by 156,064 megawatt-hours in 2019. That's a 6.7% increase from the previous year. The company achieved a 28.4% consolidated renewable portfolio standard in 2019, surpassing 27% in 2018. Officials say an increase in rooftop solar systems and grid-scale solar projects helped Hawaiian Electric increase its renewable energy percentage, while record-high temperatures last summer drove up electricity demand.

OBIT-HONOLULU CORRUPTION-PUANA

Grandmother who helped convict Honolulu power couple dies

HONOLULU (AP) — The grandmother of a former Honolulu deputy city prosecutor who was at the center of a federal corruption case has died. A family attorney tells The Associated Press that Florence Puana died at her home Thursday morning. She was 100. Puana is the grandmother of Katherine Kealoha, who led a unit in the Honolulu prosecutor’s office that focused on career criminals. Kealoha and her retired Honolulu police chief husband Louis Kealoha were accused of defrauding relatives, banks and children to maintain a lavish lifestyle. The couple pleaded guilty to bank fraud in October in order to avoid other trials against them.