Monday, February 22, 2021

State edges toward vaccinating 70+, charging for hikers' rescue, $1M Honolulu homes may be classified affordable, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Charging illegal hikers for rescue costs considered again by Hawaii lawmakers. Renewed efforts are underway in the state Senate to allow county first-responders to charge outlaw hikers for the cost of rescuing them — and issue criminal fines as well — at a time when government spending is under stress from the fallout of COVID-19. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Is The End In Sight? And How Will We Know It?
Vaccinations are key to how soon state and local officials will feel comfortable easing back restrictions on travel as well as business and social activities. Civil Beat.

DOH: Seniors 70 And Older To Get COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Soon’. As of January, Hawaii’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan had aimed to start vaccinating people 65 and older in March. Instead, officials with the Department of Health said Friday they plan to expand the pool of vaccine recipients to include people 70 and older sometime soon. Civil Beat. Big Island Video News. KITV4.

State extends testing window for domestic travelers. Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Sunday confirms it is extending the testing window for inbound domestic travelers through Wednesday, February 24.  This in response to the severe weather across the mainland that has canceled or delayed flights. KITV4.

Hawaii Always Had A Hard Time Recruiting Teachers. The Pandemic Made It Harder. Hawaii is rethinking its teacher recruitment strategies, including virtual job fairs, but it’s a hard sell when even preexisting successful initiatives face a shaky future. Civil Beat.

Prison reform advocates worry key bills won’t survive legislative session. Prison reform measures, which gained momentum during the COVID pandemic, are now faltering in the state Legislature, advocates said. Hawaii News Now.

Gender Wage Gap Narrower In Hawaii, But Pandemic Greatly Impacting Women In The Workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Hawaii eighth in the country when it came to the overall amount women earned compared to men. Based on 2019 data, for every dollar men were paid -- women earned roughly 85 cents. Hawaii Public Radio.

Suicides In Hawaii Have Declined During The Pandemic.
Calls to crisis hotlines and hospital admissions for psychiatric problems increased in 2020, but preliminary data shows no evidence of a spike in suicides. Civil Beat.

Critics say Agriculture Development Corporation should be shut down. State Rep. Richard Onishi said Friday scathing reports from the state auditor and the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization led to legislation that would abolish the Agriculture Development Corporation. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Farmers Need Better Data To Make Decisions. Federal and state budget cuts, combined with challenges in gathering data, have led to a shrinkage of up-to-date, accessible and comprehensive agricultural data in Hawaii in recent years. Civil Beat.

Hawaii first to get new warships that can pull up onto beaches. The Marine Corps later this year plans to activate in Hawaii its first-ever Marine Littoral Regiment — the centerpiece of a sweeping force redesign enabling troops to operate in small units with ship-killing missiles from the islands that dot the Western Pacific. Star-Advertiser.

Feb. 21, 2021 COVID-19 Update: 68 New Cases (33 O‘ahu, 28 Maui, 4 Hawai‘i Island, 3 Out-of-State). Maui Now.


‘Bold’ plan to develop leasehold condos on state land renewed. Such homes are intended to be built within a mile of city rail stations, and initially were described as feasibly costing $300,000 for three-bedroom units in buildings with pools and other amenities. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu affordable housing could include $1 million homes under state guidelines, which some have criticized as being ‘out of whack’. A two-bedroom home that costs $1 million technically can be defined as “affordable” for some households eligible for government-subsidized housing. Star-Advertiser.

Blangiardi asks state to lift some team sports restrictions with COVID cases declining. As COVID case counts continue to drop, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi has hinted Oahu is on the verge of loosening restrictions for the first time since October. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu’s move to Tier 3 is only a step toward recovery
. Oahu is on track to move to Tier 3 of its COVID-19 reopening strategy this week after being stuck in Tier 2 since October, but some businesses are unsure what Tier 3 will mean to them and how much of a change it will bring. Star-Advertiser.

City says new e-scooter company in Waikiki is operating illegally. A new electric scooter company in Waikiki is challenging city laws. Hawaii News Now.

Aloha Stadium parking lot events prove popular with more being booked. Aloha Stadium was more or less condemned in December for future events with spectators, but the parking lot around the rusted 50,000-seat complex is being booked for a growing array of attractions. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

House introduces resolutions to form working group on Maunakea. A pair of resolutions was introduced Friday on the floor of the House of Representatives to form on working group on the management of Maunakea. Tribune-Herald.

Long waits loom for licenses: Renewals could take months as division faces backlog. Residents hoping to renew their driver’s licenses can still expect months-long delays thanks to a backlog at the County Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division. Tribune-Herald.

COVID-19 vaccine ‘mega clinics’ to open in Kona.
The rate at which the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered in West Hawaii should pick up pace thanks to a partnership that will bring “mega clinics” to Kailua-Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Amphitheater, affordable housing highlight Palamanui deal.
Developer Palamanui Global Holdings sweetened the pot on a rezoning deal Tuesday by promising an outdoor performing arts amphitheater and affordable housing that’s more affordable, winning the massive development preliminary approval from a County Council panel. West Hawaii Today.

Bill introduced to address management of Honokohau Small Boat Harbor. A bill that would give a Honokohau Small Boat Harbor working group management authority over the facility with the state’s oversight and assistance is making its way through the state Senate. West Hawaii Today.


Fast-track affordable housing bill passes on first reading. A bill that would tighten affordable housing requirements for projects seeking fast-track approval under state law squeaked by with enough votes early Friday evening to pass on first reading before the Maui County Council. Maui News.

‘Maui Wowee’: County Council Sees Potential Financial Boost From Pot Industry.
Council members are hoping other Hawaii counties express support for marijuana legalization too. Legislative leaders and Gov. David Ige have long opposed the idea. Civil Beat.


Council resolution urging reopening of schools. County Councilmembers Mason Chock and Luke Evslin have introduced a new resolution, urging the state to reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning and allowing interscholastic sports competitions, as well as organized youth sports to resume for grades kindergarten to 12. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i resorts hope to bounce back from COVID-19 pandemic. Hokuala Resort at Timbers Managing Director Gary Moore is reporting an increase in the occupancy of the luxury resort since the start of January. Garden Island.

Sex-assault services in peril.
In January, the state proposed a $714,000-a-year cut to its contract with the Sex Abuse Treatment Center, which subcontracts for treatment services with the YWCA of Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

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