Friday, February 5, 2021

Legislature takes up gambling, marijuana bills as businesses struggle, Hawaii football a drain on university finances, coffee farm hit with COVID-19 cluster, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Short Term Rental Operators Are Exiting The Market Amid Recession And Legal Restrictions. The number of properties listed as short term vacation rentals has declined by as much as half compared to pre-pandemic levels, but the numbers may be deceiving. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii businesses continue to suffer amid pandemic and fear recovery is a long way off. A new “Pulse of Business Survey” by the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and Omnitrak shows island companies face a long road to recovery that they expect will extend into April 2022. Hawaii News Now.

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Hawaii Lawmakers Kill Bill To Improve Care At Veterans And Nursing Homes. Healthcare administrators argued the bill, drafted in response to the deadly outbreak last year at a Hilo facility, could make healthcare slower. Civil Beat.

Hearings set for gambling bills: Casino legislation still alive; lotteries also proposed for Hawaii. In a year where an economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has the government scrambling for revenue, a pair of gambling-related bills — usually a nonstarter in the state Legislature — are scheduled for hearings. Tribune-Herald.

Interisland medical cannabis transport bill back. A measure authorizing qualifying patients to transport medical cannabis between islands for personal use that was passed by the 2019 Legislature and subsequently vetoed by Gov. David Ige is back before lawmakers. West Hawaii Today.

‘Stand Your Ground’ proposal stirs debate at state Legislature. There’s considerable debate at the state Legislature this session on whether to pursue passage of a so-called “Stand Your Ground” law in Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

State Auditor: Protect The Agency’s Independence. State Auditor Les Kondo is questioning the authority of a task force created by House Speaker Scott Saiki to obtain confidential personnel and other records from the auditor’s office. Star-Advertiser.

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State’s outdated unemployment computer system to get a $10M overhaul.  The state plans to replace its dated and overwhelmed unemployment computer system, which has been blamed on payment delays amid the pandemic. Hawaii News Now.

Unemployment tax shocks hit claimants; employers next unless fixes pass at Capitol. Some recipients of unemployment payments are facing sticker shock as they realize they now owe taxes on that money, and in some cases, they owe money back to the State. KHON2.

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Hawaii’s COVID-19 Tracking App Is Falling Short. Only 80,000 users have downloaded AlohaSafe Alert, about half the amount developers say is needed to be effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Civil Beat.

State now has 30 sites distributing COVID vaccine to kupuna, essential workers. While there’s been lots of press about two mass vaccination sites on Oahu, you’ve probably heard a lot less about smaller vaccination clinics in Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

Infections and hospitalizations are dropping in Hawaii as more people get inoculated. Hawaii has distributed more than 180,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and that appears to be slowing infections, according to the head of the hospital association. Star-Advertiser.

HAWAII VIRUS TRACKER — Feb. 4: 107 New COVID-19 Infections And 2 Deaths. The cases included 80 on Oahu, six on Hawaii island, 16 on Maui and five residents diagnosed out of state. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Bills aim to clarify Honolulu rail vote confusion. Questions over voting issues that loom over the rail project’s governing board — which have affected at least two recent, high-profile votes and brought the board to inaction over other issues — are intended to be resolved under various bills moving through the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Former Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan Joins HART. He’ll oversee a public relations program whose costs he sought to reduce as the council’s budget chairman. Civil Beat.

Health Department hears case over Red Hill fuel tanks. The Hawaii Department of Health is near completing a five-day contested case hearing that challenges the Navy’s permit application to operate its Red Hill fuel storage facility. KHON2.

University of Hawaii football games in Manoa seen costing $400K annually. That’s the estimate of expenses exceeding revenues for temporarily shifting Rainbow Warrior football games to the University of Hawaii’s flagship campus from longtime home Aloha Stadium. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

COVID-19 Cluster Identified at Coffee Farm in Kona.
Out of about 100 employees, 18 workers were diagnosed with the coronavirus, Steve Bader, executive assistant from the Mayor’s Office, told Hawai‘i County Council’s Governmental Operations, Relations and Economic Development Committee. Big Island Now. Tribune-Herald. Hawaii News Now.

‘Fight COVID With COVID’ Blood Drive Coming to Kona. The Blood Bank of Hawai‘i has planned a Big Island blood drive this month to replenish its stores of blood and COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma. Big Island Now.

Maui

County cites rent savings in possible building purchase. Maui News parcel would provide office space as well as equity for county. Maui News.

MCCC dealing with first case of COVID-19. Thirteen Maui Community Correctional Center inmates have been placed in medical isolation and 90 inmates are on quarantine status while undergoing precautionary COVID-19 testing, after one inmate tested positive for COVID-19 at the Wailuku jail, the state Department of Public Safety reported Wednesday. Maui News. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Haleakala National Park reopens after winter storm brings snow to Maui summit. Haleakala National Park announced it has reopened its summit district following a temporary closure at 4 p.m. Wednesday due to wintry conditions. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Kauai

State bill addresses irrigation management. The East Kaua‘i irrigation system can serve more than 1,000 acres of agricultural land from Lihu‘e to Kapa‘a, about 300 of which are in active crop production by local farmers. Garden Island.


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