Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Higher taxes on horizon, court halts aquarium industry, proms canceled, surgeon general seeks charges dismissed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Gov. David Ige ponders higher fuel and wealth taxes. Linda Chu Takayama, chief of staff for Gov. David Ige, informed the House Finance Committee on Tuesday that these two types of taxes are possibilities to increase state revenue and partly offset a decline driven by coronavirus pandemic impacts. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmaker expects National Guard to help with security in Honolulu for Joe Biden inauguration. State House Speaker Scott Saiki expects the Hawaii National Guard to be called up — and says they should be armed — to help law enforcement deter any violent Donald Trump protesters in Honolulu leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration next week. Star-Advertiser.

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Court Ruling Halts All Existing Hawaii Commercial Aquarium Fishing Licenses. The latest order compels state officials to cancel all existing commercial aquarium licenses because they lack the proper reviews, environmental advocates say. Civil Beat.

Court: Illegal aquarium-fish collection must stop now. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources improperly sidestepped a court order invalidating commercial marine licenses used for aquarium-fish collection, the state’s environmental court ruled Tuesday. Garden Island.

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Hawaii businesses could see their unemployment insurance triple if leaders don’t rewrite a certain state law. The state owes the federal government approximately $700 million after it took out a loan to shore-up unemployment funds last year. Under current state law, businesses have to pay off the loan. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Vector Control Branch Faces Budget Cuts (Again).
The job losses could have serious effects on public health if another disease outbreak occurs. Civil Beat.

Newly Created Caucus Within State Legislature to Address Progressive Ideals.
The Progressive Caucus, made up of 16 State representatives and senators, will be pushing an agenda that works to develop and empower public leaders to improve the economic and social conditions in Hawaiʻi. Big Island Now.

Judge to hear motion to dismiss charge against surgeon general. A judge is set to address a motion requesting to dismiss a charge against U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, whom police cited in late August for allegedly violating an emergency order at an Oahu park. Star-Advertiser.

Isle vaccine rollout lagging. State officials are pointing fingers at one another over concerns of a lagging rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Hawaii and a lack of coordination in ramping up large-scale immunization clinics to keep the disease under control. Star-Advertiser.

Kaiser Permanente Outlines Member Vaccination Rollout Procedure. Kaiser Permanente today sent information to its members on how it plans to roll out vaccinations on different islands this week, and procedures in place for scheduling appointments. Maui Now.

The DOE Plans To Use Private Tutors To Help Struggling Students Catch Up. Hawaii’s Department of Education requested private tutoring proposals in October to address “unprecedented issues related to student learning” due to the pandemic. Civil Beat.

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DOE cancels all proms, large gatherings for remainder of the school year. The DOE says it will announce plans for limited in-person commencement ceremonies by the end of February. Schools are already being encouraged to think of alternative ceremony formats, including drive-by and online festivities. Hawaii News Now.

DOE cancels all large school events, causes more hurdles for businesses. The Department of Education  officially canceled all large school functions for the rest of the school year. KHON2.

Public school proms canceled...again! The Department of Education cancels large in-person social school gatherings through June 1st. KITV4.

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How Single Mothers In Hawaii Are Weathering The Pandemic. Single mothers in Hawaii are coping with virtual learning coupled with expensive child care and a lack of remote jobs. Civil Beat.

No ‘twindemic’ as cases of flu remain scarce. Fears of a “twindemic” — an annual flu season combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — have not been realized. Tribune-Herald.

HAWAII VIRUS TRACKER — Jan. 12: 114 New COVID-19 Cases. Hawaii health officials reported 114 new cases of COVID-19 statewide on Tuesday, including 83 on Oahu, 21 on Maui, four on the Big Island and six state residents diagnosed out of state. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Alm says his top priority is restoring public’s trust in city Prosecutor’s Office. City Prosecutor Steve Alm said his top priority during his first 100 days in office will be to restore trust in his office. Alm takes over at the Prosecutor’s Office in the wake of years-long corruption scandals. Hawaii News Now.

Kealoha files top of Honolulu Prosecutor's to-do list. New Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm says restoring trust in his department is at the top of his 100-day plan. KITV4.

HPD to discuss $100,000 purchase of robot with Honolulu City Council.
The first Honolulu City Council meeting of the year will include a discussion on recent purchases made by the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), which includes a robotic dog with a six-figure price tag. KHON2.

TheBus, Handi-van drivers call for hazard pay, but OTS says it’s a long shot. So far, Oahu Transportation Services says 42 staff members, including 25 drivers, have contracted COVID — although most are said to be from exposures outside of work. Hawaii News Now.

Lawsuit alleges businesses are victims of a massive city sewer fee ‘ripoff’. The city would not comment directly on the lawsuit but said that in general sewer fees for businesses are not based on current usage but on usage between 2010 and 2012. Hawaii News Now.

City allows walk-in entry to Hanauma Bay again. After implementing a no walk-in policy over the weekend, the city says it will allow walk-ins again starting Wednesday, Jan. 13. KHON2.

Reversing course, city will once again allow walk-in entry at Hanauma Bay. The city is changing their mind on new rules at Hanauma Bay. They previously announced walk-up entry to the bay wouldn’t be allowed, but that is changing starting Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

City crews to repair a Waikiki rock wall, promenade impacted by erosion. Crews are fixing a damaged concrete wall near Queen’s Surf Beach, where king tides took out a lifeguard tower last summer. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Hilo Youth Challenge Academy To Close. Major General Kenneth Hara made the announcement Tuesday, as he presented the Hawaiʻi Department of Defense budget during a joint State Senate Committee meeting. Big Island Video News.

Cut red tape, but safety first: New Environmental Management director balks at Alii Drive sewer plan. Hawaii County residents who have expressed concern that Mayor Mitch Roth would push a pro-development agenda when he took office may have been reassured last week when his Environmental Management director — who still awaits council confirmation — delayed what seemed a formality accepting a sewer line because he thinks it could be a public health hazard. West Hawaii Today.

Local Algae May Prove Key to Slashing Livestock Methane Emissions. A tiny lab situated on the Kona Coast could hold the key to naturally reducing massive methane emissions from livestock around the world. Big Island Now.

Maui

As COVID-19 Cases Surge on Maui, County Leaders Balance Public Health vs. Devastated Economy.
As COVID-19 surges on Maui, with an average of 30 new cases per day over the past two weeks, County leadership has experienced an even tougher balancing act between protecting public health and not doing more harm to an already devastated economy. Maui Now.

Mayor Victorino asks to limit capacity at big box stores. Due to a significant rise in COVID-19 cases, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino submitted another proposed emergency rule to Governor David Ige Tuesday. KITV4.

Hundreds turn out for vaccine drive.
State Department of Health officials were “swamped” at their COVID-19 vaccination site Monday in Kahului, with about 400 more patients than expected due to confusion over the online reservation system. Maui News.

Single-family home prices just shy of record. Median price hits $865,000 in December. Maui County single-family home prices in December came just shy of the all-time record set in October as demand stayed strong despite a surge in COVID-19 cases and a typically slow month, according to the latest report from the Realtors Association of Maui.  Maui News.

Kauai

Less than 4% of CARES funds remaining. The County of Kaua‘i has expended 96.1% of its COVID-19-relief funds, and still has some more time to exhaust the more than $28 million allotted by the state. Garden Island.

Planning Commission moves forward on Ag land use bill. A bill to amend the county’s zoning ordinances related to commercial uses on agriculturally zoned land has moved through the Planning Commission and is headed back to the County Council. Garden Island.

COVID-19 vaccines for kupuna start Friday. Kupuna, or the elderly ages 75 years and older, need an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations that start Friday at Wilcox Medical Center, states an announcement from Hawai‘i Pacific Health. Garden Island.

Committee confirms KIUC board candidates.
Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s Nominating Committee has confirmed three candidates for its 2021 Board of Directors election on March 13. Garden Island.

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