Friday, May 22, 2020

Senate gives itself subpoena powers as Legislature, governor squabble over CARES money; Honolulu and Kauai reopen churches and restaurants; 22% unemployment is historic high, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

from Facebook live
Gov. David Ige press conference via Facebook live
Citing frustration with Ige administration, state Senate forms investigative committee. State senators have formed an investigative committee, saying they’re frustrated by a lack of transparency from Gov. David Ige’s administration during the pandemic crisis. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii lawmakers try to move COVID-19 relief money out of Ige’s reach. Simmering frustration between Gov. David Ige and the state Legislature approached the boiling point Thursday as lawmakers voted to move more than $1.3 billion into the state’s “rainy day” budget reserve fund — where lawmakers would control it — and the Senate authorized a committee to issue subpoenas to pry information loose from the administration. Star-Advertiser.

Ige’s Economic Chief Accuses Senators Of Harassment. Mike McCartney, director of the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, refused to discuss the administration’s plan to revive the economy. Civil Beat.

Senate creates investigative committee with subpoena power. The Hawaii State Senate voted to give the Special Committee on COVID-19 subpoena powers today. KHON2.

Hawaii’s head of business and economic development declines to allow staff to testify before Senate committee. Mike McCartney, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, declined to have his staff testify today before a Hawaii Senate committee because of what he was said a “hostile” environment by lawmakers. Star-Advertiser.

Head of DBEDT claims Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting a 'hostile environment'. Mike McCartney, Head of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism refused to let his staff testify in front of the Senate Ways and Means Committee Thursday. KITV4.

Legislature Passes Budget Cuts But Will Be Back In June. The $1 billion spending reductions will now go to Gov. David Ige for his review. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers recess after addressing budget shortfall. Hawaii lawmakers on Thursday recessed after passing multiple funding bills designed to cope with the shock of the coronavirus pandemic that has hammered the state’s tourism-dependent economy. House and Senate leaders said they expected to reconvene around June 15 to continue their work. Hawaii News Now.

Without intervention, Hawaii government could run out of operating funds next year. Hawaii’s economic situation is so dire that state government could run out of operating funds by June 2021 if lawmakers and officials don’t find a way to slash expenses and increase tax collections. Star-Advertiser.


Ige mulls lifting quarantine for interisland travel. Gov. David Ige said Thursday he’s considering lifting the 14-day mandatory quarantine currently in place for interisland air travelers, saying measures are pointing in the right direction to make this move. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Officials Consider Lifting Inter-island Travel Quarantine. During a Thursday news conference, top state officials talked about how "health measures are pointing in the right direction to make this move" to resume inter-island travel. Big Island Video News.

Plans to Lift Interisland Travel Quarantine Underway. Interisland travel is the next monumental item on the state’s coronavirus to-do list. Big Island Now.

Lifting Interisland Travel Quarantine is “Top-Of-Mind,” No Target Date Set. Currently both quarantines for out-of-state arrivals and interisland travel are in place through June 30th; however, Gov. Ige has noted that lifting the 14-day quarantine for interisland travel is top-of-mind. Maui Now.

Ige says state is taking ‘cautious’ approach as more businesses plan to reopen. The governor on Thursday urged residents to prepare for a moderate uptick in COVID-19 cases as the state continues to reopen in a “cautious” way. Hawaii News Now.


Hawaii’s unemployment rate reaches historic high. According to the State Labor Department, April’s unemployment rate went up to 22 percent. This reflected the economic impact of COVID-19 in the state. KHON2.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate jumps to 22.3% amid pandemic. Hawaii’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 22.3% in April, up from just 2.4% the previous month, as hotels, restaurants and retailers closed amid efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Hawaii News Now.

Desolate peak reached in Hawaii unemployment. Hawaii’s unemployment rate shot up to a really terrible level in April: a record 22.3%, or nearly 1 in 4 people in the state’s workforce. Star-Advertiser.


DOH Says Its COVID-19 Testing Capacity Has ‘Increased Dramatically’. Bruce Anderson, director of the Department of Health, said the state now has the ability to perform up to 3,600 tests daily. Civil Beat.

Current Board of Education Member May Not Be Renominated. Two new boards members were confirmed by the full Senate Thursday, but the renomination of Kili Namauu has been stalled by the Senate Education Committee. Civil Beat.

Hawaii School Superintendent Gets ‘Effective’ Rating From Board. But the Board of Education scored the school chief poorly in areas like operations, resource and personnel management. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Reopened Its Civil Rights Office. But Investigations Are Still Stalled. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the commission faced a growing backlog of cases. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s narrow eviction moratorium means not everyone is protected.  Evictions are on hold as part of Gov’s David Ige’s supplemental emergency proclamation — but only evictions for non-payment of rent. Hawaii News Now.

Anonymous donor surprises nearly 2K kupuna with free groceries at Hawaii Foodland stores. An anonymous donor surprised hundreds of Hawaii’s kupuna at all Foodland, Sack N Save and Foodland Farms stores statewide today by covering the full costs of their groceries. Star-Advertiser.

Two women defy Hawaii traveler quarantine, including one who got a job in Laie. Authorities have arrested a visitor to Hawaii who broke the state’s 14-day travel quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19 and are working with another to get her back home. Star-Advertiser.

VIRUS TRACKER — MAY 21: 4 New COVID-19 Cases In Hawaii. Hawaii and Maui counties collectively reported four new coronavirus cases. Civil Beat.

Virus cases identified in Hilo, South Kona. Four new cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday — three on the Big Island, the other on Maui. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Fish Council Urges Trump To Open Marine Monuments To Fishing. This is the second time Wespac has asked the president to make it easier to fish in and around environmental sanctuaries. Civil Beat.


Oahu restaurants and churches prepare to open their doors with social distancing rules in place. Oahu restaurants will be allowed to reopen for indoor dining on June 5 and churches will be able to resume in-person services with restrictions on Saturday under a new emergency order signed by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Star-Advertiser.

City allows in-person spiritual services to resume on Oahu this weekend.  In-person spiritual services will once again be allowed starting Saturday, as long as worshippers follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks. Hawaii News Now.

In-Person Religious Services May Resume Saturday. You can pray together again, but keep a safe distance, the city says. Civil Beat.

Mayor Caldwell allows in-person spiritual services to resume this weekend. Come this weekend, churches on Oahu will be allowed to reopen. KITV4.


Authorities Struggle To Enforce Quarantine On Vacation Rental Occupants. The City and County of Honolulu is not able to effectively enforce the mandatory 14-day quarantine on visitors staying in vacation rentals, according to one senior official. Hawaii Public Radio.

Honolulu Council Gets Another Open Meetings Violation. Adding items to meeting agendas after the deadline should be done “rarely, if ever,” the state said. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Is Testing Sewage To Watch For The Spread Of COVID-19. Oahu has begun testing sewage for COVID-19, hoping to get an early warning of outbreaks and increase consumer confidence as the island reopens. Civil Beat.

NOAA reminds holiday beachgoers to stay away from monk seal pup at Kaiwi coastline. A newly weaned Hawaiian monk seal might make an appearance around the Kaiwi coastline on Oahu over the Memorial Day weekend — a worrisome thought for those looking out for her. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Council finds money for golf, contingency funds in tight budget. Fees for sewers and rubbish disposal will continue to increase, taxes could rise for luxury second homes and services will be cut countywide, but County Council members still found room in the budget Thursday to add another $565,000 for their contingency accounts and golf subsidies. West Hawaii Today.

How to spend $80M: Kim outlines uses for COVID-19 response funds. Mayor Harry Kim had less than two days to submit a plan to the state Legislature, and now that SB 75 passed and is on its way to the governor, a plan is taking shape. West Hawaii Today.

San Buenaventura to seek Ruderman’s state Senate seat. State Rep. Joy San Buenaventura of Puna will seek the 2nd District Senate seat currently held by Russell Ruderman, who on Wednesday announced he would not run for re-election. Tribune-Herald.

Regents delay action on new Maunakea proposal. The University of Hawaii Board of Regents voted Thursday to postpone discussion of a new internal management structure for Maunakea governance until June. Tribune-Herald.

Public access to Waipio Valley will be closed. The Hawaii County Dept. of Public Works announced that public access to Waipio Valley will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. starting Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25. KHON2.


County officials detail reopening considerations. Some high-risk businesses get green light ahead of medium-risk ones. Maui News.

Colorado Woman Wanted for Quarantine Violation on Maui Agrees to Return Home. A Colorado woman wanted for allegedly violating the 14-day travel quarantine on Maui has voluntarily elected to return home to the mainland, according to Maui police. Maui Now.

Maui Unemployment Rate Highest in State at 36% in April. The Hawai‘i State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations today announced that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April was 22.3 percent. Maui Now.

Work Begins on 20 Temporary Emergency Shelters at Waiale Park in Wailuku. The County of Maui begins construction tomorrow, May 22 on an estimated 20 temporary emergency shelters at Waiale Park in Wailuku for displaced families and individuals impacted by COVID-19. Maui Now.


Green light to reopen. Churches, salons, barber shops and outdoor-based tour companies on Kaua‘i can reopen today. Garden Island.

Kauai gets governor’s approval to reopen some ‘medium-risk’ businesses by Friday. Kauai has secured the governor’s approval to reopen a number of “medium-risk” businesses and public spaces Friday, including hair and nail salons, pools and fitness training. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai businesses get ready to reopen Friday. Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami has gotten the go ahead from the governor to reopen medium risk businesses as soon as Friday. Many Kauai businesses say their phones have been ringing off the hook with customers since the announcement was made. KHON2.

Aloha overflowed out of the front entrance of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Regency & Spa Thursday afternoon when the resort’s General Manager Dan King and a band of volunteers welcomed back colleagues for a family-style meal pickup conducted within the parameters of social distancing and health safety guidelines created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Garden Island.


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