Thursday, February 18, 2021

Schatz describes next round of federal bailouts, mainland storms force Hawaii vaccination cancellations, COVID-19 case count unknown due to lab failure, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Sen. Brian Schatz
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz PC:Star-Advertiser video grab

Sen. Brian Schatz hopes stimulus will prevent layoffs and furloughs, among other benefits. The next round of COVID-19 related federal stimulus could be enough to prevent layoffs and furloughs of Hawaii public workers, keep island businesses afloat and prevent renters and homeowners from losing their homes while extending unemployment benefits, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii online video program Wednesday. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald. Hawaii News Now.

Storms interrupt vaccine deliveries to Hawaii as the state sees a drop in cases. Bitter winter storms across much of the mainland this week so far have delayed shipment of 37,450 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Hawaii, with only 10,250 doses successfully delivered, the Department of Health reported Wednesday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.


DOE Superintendent Says Better Spacing Guidance Is Needed For School Reopenings. Christina Kishimoto said she’ll meet with state health officials and lawmakers Friday to discuss how best to proceed in light of new federal guidance. Civil Beat.

House Education Committee Recommends Using CARES Act Funding to Pay Hawaii Teachers. A bill at the state legislature would use the money to pay teachers to avoid furloughs and layoffs, and it has the support of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii’s Tax ‘Imbalance’: Would A New State Property Tax Fix It?
Some House lawmakers have hatched a complex plan to export more of Hawaii’s weighty tax burden to non-residents, but it would require an amendment to the Hawaii state Constitution and a huge leap of faith on the part of the voters. Civil Beat.

State to slash general assistance benefits as number of program recipients swells.
A key state benefits program that helps adults who are temporarily disabled and do not qualify for Social Security is being slashed. The state Department of Human Services confirmed Wednesday that the monthly check for the general assistance program will be slashed from $388 to $260 starting in March. Hawaii News Now.

Unemployment benefits start flowing again for many but not all. Those waiting on the second Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation were finally able to file their claims on Monday after more than a month-long delay as the state scrambled to re-implement the federal extension program on its outdated computer system. Hawaii News Now.

Proposal Would Make Information on Inmate Deaths Public. When a Hawaii inmate dies at any of the state's jails or prisons, the state Public Safety Department is required to provide a report to the governor withing 48 hours. A legislative proposal would require that same report be made available to the public and a copy given to the inmates' family. Hawaii Public Radio.

Senate Panel Kills Beef Bill. A Senate committee on Wednesday effectively killed a bill intended to impose operating restrictions on an Idaho rancher who has acquired about 70% of Hawaii’s beef processing capacity. Civil Beat.

Salina Kanai to serve as federal public defender in Hawaii.
Judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit have appointed Salina M. Kanai as the next federal public defender in the District of Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

‘NCIS: Hawaii’ appears bound for the isles. A Hawaii spinoff of the popular series based on the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is in the works, but hasn’t been officially greenlit, reported. Star-Advertiser.

Proposal To Protect Pacific Corals Exempts Military Training Areas. A National Marine Fisheries Service proposal to designate 230 square miles of critical habitat for seven threatened coral species in the Pacific Ocean is getting mixed reviews from environmental advocates due to an exemption for military training areas. Civil Beat.

For a second day, Hawaii is unable to report the actual number of new COVID cases.
The state said for a second day lab reporting issues meant it was not clear how many new infections were actually reported. Hawaii News Now.

HAWAII VIRUS TRACKER — Feb. 17: 29 New COVID-19 Cases And 1 Death. Low case counts this week are being attributed to a laboratory reporting error. The cases reported Wednesday included one on Hawaii Island, nine on Maui, 16 on Oahu and three residents diagnosed out of state. Civil Beat.


Former state Senator Laura Thielen is confirmed as city parks director. The Honolulu City Council has confirmed former Hawaii State Senator Laura H. Thielen as director for the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation, which announced her confirmation in a press release this afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu airport businesses seek added protections from state. Airport concessionaires are asking state lawmakers to write into state law the types of relief available to them during the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies that cause significant economic hardship. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu To Pay $1.9 Million After Bus Shelter Collapsed On Woman’s Legs. The lawsuit said the city should’ve known its bus shelter wasn’t safe. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Police Department ramps up recruitment efforts amid ongoing officer shortage. The Honolulu Police Department is 15% below its full staffing level and has sped up the application process to reduce officer vacancies. Star-Advertiser.

Aloha Stadium district redevelopment plan gets divided in 2. A state plan to redevelop the 98-acre site of Aloha Stadium in Halawa with a private partner is now a two-part endeavor. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Measure aims to boost to Banyan Drive. Big Island legislators are backing a proposal to create a redevelopment district to revitalize the Waiakea peninsula and Banyan Drive. Tribune-Herald.

The $160M question: Is upgrading Kealakehe sewer plant to R-1 worth it? Mayor Mitch Roth’s top environmental official is taking a hard look at the advisability of upgrading Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant to produce R-1, the highest grade of recycled water, after the cost of the 20-year-old plan ballooned to $160 million. West Hawaii Today.


Maui water use plan likely pushed back again. The Maui County Council is mulling whether to again push back the adoption deadline for the Maui Island Water Use Development Plan, a blueprint for protection, management and water use over a 20-year period. Maui News.

With Maui County paying $100,000 per month in rent for office space, the administration of Mayor Michael Victorino is proposing to buy the 6.3-acre Maui News building complex and turn it into county office space. Star-Advertiser.

Talks over hospital wages continue. Maui Health System and the hospital workers’ union have scheduled more negotiating dates as the two sides remain deadlocked over raises for employees, among other issues. Maui News.

Four Visitors Arrested on Maui for Alleged Quarantine Violation. Police say all four arrived on Maui on an O Ľahu flight without a negative pre-travel COVID-19 test and did not have approved lodging in which to complete the mandatory 10-day travel quarantine. Maui Now.  KHON2.


SB1286 would make travel program uniform statewide. This bill would restrict the County of Kaua‘i from enacting additional rules to the state’s already established set, like its on-going post-arrival test option to be released from quarantine. Garden Island.

Business rally at Vidinha. More than 200 business owners across the island assembled at Vidinha Stadium’s parking lot on Wednesday to organize their concerns and find a way to send them to the county and state officials in hopes of opening tourism on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

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