Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Coronavirus vaccine shortage hits Hawaii, lawmakers mull lottery, cigarette tax hike, $12 minimum wage, Oahu restaurant inspections suspended, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo
Lt. Gov. Josh Green administers coronavirus vaccine in this Dec. 29, 2020, courtesy photo

 Lack of supply slows coronavirus vaccinations in Hawaii. Hawaii’s mass COVID-19 immunization sites are putting the brakes on new appointments, at least for the next few weeks, as vaccine supplies remain limited across the country. Star-Advertiser.

Second vaccine shots for large group of seniors could limit distribution of first doses. Hawaii seniors 75 and older who got COVID vaccines at large distribution sites in Hawaii will soon get their second doses and that’s putting a squeeze on supplies. Hawaii News Now.

Gov. David Ige in no rush to grant vaccinated travelers easy entry.
Gov. David Ige said he’s cautious about loosening air travel restrictions for people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, noting that the science is still unclear as to whether the vaccine hampers transmission of the virus. Star-Advertiser.


Stabilizing Or Stalling? State Officials Explain Why Hawaii’s Recovery Plan Will Take 2 Years. The governor’s economic development leaders say they want to carefully craft a plan that will hold up for the long term. But legislative leaders aren’t convinced. Civil Beat.

Outlook brightens for Hawaii economy. The prospect of more vaccinated tourists visiting the state, perhaps under a corona­virus vaccine passport program, could mean Hawaii visitor arrivals will bounce back to around half their record 2019 level, or more, by summer and continue rising in the second half of this year. Star-Advertiser.

Economists hope new federal funds will further boost Hawaii’s economic recovery. Any boost in funding from the federal government is likely to speed up Hawaii’s economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic. Hawaii News Now.

A State Lottery For Hawaii? Lawmakers Are Thinking About It. A hearing is set this week on a bill that proposes using revenue for public education. Civil Beat.

Proposed Cigarette Tax Increase Advances At Legislature. Lawmakers consider a bill to increase the state tax from 16 cents per cigarette to 21 cents. Civil Beat.

Hawaii legislators could boost minimum wage to $12 next year. A bill to raise Hawaii’s minimum wage to $12 in July 2022 passed unanimously out of its first committee Monday, with more than 180 individuals and groups testifying in favor, most saying it should be much higher. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Senate Proposes $12 Minimum Wage By 2022. Hawaii lawmakers on Monday took a preliminary step toward increasing the minimum wage to $12 by July 2022. Civil Beat.


It Will Take 18 Months To Overhaul Hawaii’s Outdated Unemployment System. The state labor department made a deal to replace an antiquated mainframe but it won’t help with the current wave of claims. Civil Beat.

State Unemployment System Flounders As Thousands Await Late Payments. Although Congress extended jobless benefits in late December, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ out-of-date computer system has created delays in processing certain claims. As a result, thousands of Hawaii residents have gone more than a month without unemployment benefits. Hawaii Public Radio.


Should Hawaii governors pick their LG? Hawaii is one of only a few states where instead of the nominee for Governor picking their runningmate, both Governor and Lt. Governor are elected in separate primaries, and are then forced together on the same ticket in the November general election. State Rep. Patrick Branco (D-Kailua) has introduce legislation to change that. KITV4.

Hawaii Senate Advances Asset Forfeiture Reform Measure. Gov. David Ige vetoed a similar proposal in 2019 over worries that it would hinder law enforcement operations. Civil Beat.

FAA to install weather cameras in Hawaii to help guide pilots.
A project to install 23 weather cameras throughout Hawaii is underway. KHON2.

Hawaii Wants To Form A Defense Industry ‘Alliance’ For Local Businesses. Hawaii officials want to form a new organization to get more local businesses in on lucrative defense contracts — and to find ways to use military money to grow other sectors of the state’s economy. Civil Beat.

Feds Consider Paintballs And Sponge Grenades To Thwart Endangered Monk Seals. Federal officials are weighing whether fishers should be allowed to shoot paintballs and fire sponge grenades at critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals to stop them from damaging their fishing gear, stealing their catch or compromising safety. Civil Beat.

HAWAII VIRUS TRACKER — Feb. 8: 33 New COVID-19 Infections. Hawaii health officials reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on Monday including 21 on Oahu, three on the Big Island, seven on Maui, and two residents diagnosed out of state. Civil Beat.


Mayor Blangiardi happy with low case counts but warns residents to stay vigilant. The Hawai'i State Department of Health has reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the statewide total to 26,500. KITV4.

Gov. David Ige believes Aloha Stadium still usable. Gov. David Ige questioned the wisdom of spending $350 million for a successor to Aloha Stadium and suggested the state invest further in the repair and maintenance of the deteriorating facility to keep it usable for the University (of Hawaii) for many, many years to come. Star-Advertiser.

DOH Food Safety Branch suspends in-person inspections until staff is vaccinated. The Department of Health’s Food Safety Branch manager on Oahu decided to halt in-person food establishment inspections and complaints until his 21 staff members are vaccinated. KHON2.

Finances grim for Chinese developer who owns much of Makaha Valley. The Chinese developer that acquired the Makaha Valley Country Club and hundreds of acres of land in the valley nine years ago has filed for bankruptcy protection. Hawaii News Now.

Chinatown businesses see sales rise even as public Chinese New Year celebrations cancelled. Chinese New Year is on Friday, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, residents will be ushering in the year of the ox without many celebrations. However, even without the big parade or the street festival this year, Chinatown businesses are seeing some good fortune in the days leading up to Chinese New Year. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth returns to work after heart attack. Hawaii County’s newly elected mayor returned to work today after making a recovery from a Jan. 9 heart attack in Kona. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Kohala coastline tops PONC priority list. Seven of the top 10 priority land preservation purchases recommended by a county board are in North Kohala, according to a report the administration has submitted to the County Council. West Hawaii Today.

The president and CEO of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce took issue Monday with House Speaker Scott Saiki’s statement a week ago that the University of Hawaii should no longer manage Maunakea, and it should cease its work to extend the master lease. Tribune-Herald.

Rare turtles rescued in Ka‘u. A rare nest of olive ridley sea turtles was discovered last week in Ka‘u. Tribune-Herald.

Hilo Sears closing after 36 years in Hilo mall. Prince Kuhio Plaza might seek a new tenant after Sears, one of the mall’s oldest stores, closes later this year. Tribune-Herald.


Hawaii Officially Gets Its First Space Force Guardians. The six officers were sworn in during a ceremony last week on Maui. Civil Beat. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Senate Judiciary Votes to Recommend Consent to Two Maui Judicial Appointments. The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted to recommend that the Senate consent to the judicial appointments of Christopher Dunn to the District Court of the Second Circuit and James Rouse to the District Family Court of the Second Circuit. Maui Now.


Open Space Commission to discuss Menehune Fishpond. The county’s Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund Commission will meet for the first time in almost a year on Thursday to discuss the potential acquisition of the Alakoko “Menehune” Fishpond. Garden Island.

American AgCredit pledges $2 million to support GoFarm Hawai‘i.
The American AgCredit pledge of $2 million over a five-year period is good for Hawai‘i as a state, said Eric Hanson, the GoFarm Hawai‘i Kaua‘i program coordinator. Garden Island.


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