Families sue in deadly explosion
HONOLULU (AP) — The families of five men killed in a fireworks explosion in an underground Hawaii bunker are suing several companies involved.
Honolulu attorney Steven Hisaka says he filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of the family of Justin Joseph Kelii. He says attorneys for the four other families are expected to file similar lawsuits.
Last year’s blast in central Oahu was so ferocious that trees 40 feet away were scorched. The men worked for Donaldson Enterprises, which had a contract with a federal agency to destroy illegal fireworks that had been confiscated.
The fire department could not identify a specific point of origin in its investigation. Federal agencies are still conducting separate investigations. Hisaka’s suit claims various firms involved in the disposal of the fireworks were negligent and reckless.
Lingle officially in Senate race
HONOLULU (AP) — Former Gov. Linda Lingle, 59, is officially a candidate to succeed outgoing U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
Lingle’s campaign said she filed federal election papers in downtown Honolulu on Thursday. Lingle will compete for the Republican nomination against attorney John Carroll.
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former congressman Ed Case are seeking the Democratic nomination.
Lingle’s campaign says she told supporters the election is about which candidate has experience working with others in a bipartisan fashion to make good things happen for the people of Hawaii.
She says she worked with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle when she served as governor. She’s citing her work on the Kukui Gardens affordable housing project and the Akaka bill as examples.
HMSA to raise rates by 2.6%
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s largest health insurer will raise rates by a lower amount than originally proposed. On July 1, Hawaii Medical Service Association will raise rates by 2.6 percent for about 9,500 small businesses. HMSA had proposed a 3.9 percent increase.
HMSA lowered the rate request after the state questioned projected medical costs. It was approved this week by the state Insurance Division. Business owners say they are worried about the costs, despite the lower rate increase.
HMSA had more than 692,000 members at the end of last year. The increase will apply to more than 110,000 employees at businesses with fewer than 200 workers.
Oklahoma congressman backs Native Hawaiian bill
HONOLULU (AP) — A Republican congressman from Oklahoma supporting a former Hawaii governor running for the U.S. Senate says Native Hawaiians have the same self-governance rights as American Indians.
As a Chickasaw, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole is the only American Indian currently in Congress. He’s campaigning in Hawaii for fellow Republican Linda Lingle. He said Republican opposition to federal recognition for Native Hawaiians is based on misunderstanding and ignorance.
Known as the Akaka Bill, the legislation is a renewed effort to give Native Hawaiians the same rights already extended to many American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Senate Republicans have described the bill as race-based discrimination.
Cole says he believes Lingle would be an effective advocate for the bill among Republicans in the Senate.