Monday, March 8, 2021

Bills live, die as Legislature reaches midpoint, missile defense radar still in limbo, athletic workouts, larger groups to be allowed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Pounding taro root into poi ©2021 All Hawaii News

Fewer Farmers Are Growing Hawaii’s ‘Miracle Food’ Taro Despite Growing Demand. Growing, cultivating and cooking the starchy root vegetable, which is used to make poi, is hard work that’s not always profitable. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers End Efforts To Revamp Oversight Of Watchdog Agencies. House leaders have decided against pursuing most measures aimed at controlling the state auditor although investigation into that office continues. Civil Beat.

What’s Dead And Alive At The Hawaii Legislature.
As the Legislature heads to a deadline Thursday for all bills to clear their originating chamber, scores of measures have already been killed or failed to gain traction. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers advance bill to allow abortions by nurses. The decision on Thursday by the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee will advance the legislation to the full state House for consideration. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii missile defense radar is still in limbo. The Missile Defense Agency is back seeking public comment on two possible locations for a powerful ballistic missile defense radar on either the North Shore of Oahu or the west side of Kauai — both looking toward North Korea — with Congress most recently pumping $133 million into the plan. Star-Advertiser.

UHERO Forecast 'Sort Of More Optimistic,' But Is Based On Several Factors. The state's economy will be determined by two things this year: more federal relief and the vaccine rollout. That's according to the latest report from the University of Hawaii's Economic Research Organization, or UHERO, forecasting the year ahead. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii bankruptcy cases plunge again despite COVID-19.
Statewide bankruptcies in February fell below 100 for the second month in a row and plunged 32.4% from the same time a year ago, according to new data released by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

DOE guidelines allow athletic workouts, practices. Student athletic program workouts and practices can start as early as today according to state Department of Education guidelines for safely restarting released Friday. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Head of Hawaii's Roman Catholic Church says J&J vaccine morally acceptable if Pfizer, Moderna not available. Church leaders believe Johnson & Johnson's version is "morally compromised" because it is produced using a cell line derived from an aborted fetus. KITV4.

COVID-19 testing expert advises Hawaii to stay vigilant as more states lift mask mandates. Dr. Scott Miscovich of Premier Medical Group urges Hawaii residents to keep up their vigilance and not let their guards down. KITV4.

Low COVID-19 counts key to restoring tourism
. Continued low COVID-19 case counts in Hawaii and acceleration in distribution of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to play a key role in recovering Hawaii tourism. Star-Advertiser.

70 to 74 group to start vaccinations Monday, younger ages soon to follow. There are just over 60,000 people in the state between the ages of 70 and 74, which is set to begin vaccinations. KHON2.

March 7, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 53 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Sunday, including 25 on O‘ahu, 12 on Maui, eight on Hawai‘i Island, two on Kaua‘i and six in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed outside of the state. Maui Now.


Settlement reached in lawsuit against an HPD officer accused of abusing his power. The city has settled a lawsuit accusing a Honolulu Police officer of improperly arresting a Kaneohe teenager who got into a fight with his son. Hawaii News Now.

Federal authorities zero in on Kaneshiro campaign donors in next phase of corruption probe. A parade of Keith Kaneshiro’s campaign donors testified last week before the federal grand jury hearing evidence against the former city prosecutor. Hawaii News Now.

Rail Board Believed HART’s Former Director Misled On Costs, Records Show. Dan Grabauskas, who resigned as director in 2016, says the assertions that he misrepresented the numbers are flatly incorrect. Civil Beat.

Honolulu’s housing director has new plans to tackle homelessness. Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s point person on the intractable homeless problem is Office of Housing Director Anton Krucky, whose first inclination is an approach that moves away from routine police involvement. Star-Advertiser.

As rising seas invade Waikiki resorts, the state proposes adding more groins. A draft environmental impact statement is being prepared for a $12 million Waikiki Beach Improvement and Maintenance Program, proposed by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources in partnership with the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District Association, that envisions constructing structures makai of the waterline, dredging sand and placing it on the shore. Star-Advertiser.

Ala Wai Canal bridge project moving forward. A pedestrian and bicycle bridge planned for the Ala Wai Canal will be discussed Tuesday at the Waikiki Neighborhood Board meeting, which comes two weeks before the project’s draft environmental assessment is slated for release. Star-Advertiser.

Puzzled residents want to know why a 150-seat luau is allowed but weddings are limited to 10. Confused Oahu residents are looking for clarification on the city’s tiered system of COVID restrictions after news that a luau with 150 guests was allowed to happen on Friday but weddings are still limited to no more than 10 people. Hawaii News Now.

In an effort to protect their future, youth activists call for a ban in menthol cigarettes. Hawaii youth activists gathered at the state capitol Sunday for a March Against Menthol. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Roth eases outdoor gathering rule. Mayor Mitch Roth has amended his COVID-19 emergency rule to increase the size of outdoor social gatherings from 10 people to 25, subject to approval by Gov. David Ige. Tribune-Herald.

$1.8M for travel: Federal grants prop up county travel budgets. Some county departments plan to dramatically increase their travel budgets for the new fiscal year that starts July 1, after an austere period that saw Zoom teleconferences replace the traditional off-island conventions previously attended by government officials and staff. West Hawaii Today.

Handling the gun surge: $545,760 grant to help HPD process firearms permits. Concerns about the coronavirus pandemic coupled with political turmoil could have contributed to an almost doubling in firearms permits and registration on Hawaii Island last year compared to 2019, leading to a waiting list at the Police Department of up to three months. West Hawaii Today.

Commissioner expects increase in film, TV spending. The Big Island’s film commissioner is optimistic there’ll be an uptick in spending this year from film, television and video and print advertising productions seeking county permits. Tribune-Herald.

Mamaki under attack: Ramie moth confirmed on Big Island. Another Big Island crop is under attack by an invasive species prompting the Department of Agriculture to issue a pest alert. West Hawaii Today.

New statue raises eyebrows: Bronze sculpture was erected in Liliuokalani Park last month. Hilo artist Henry Bianchini created and donated a bronze statue called Ho‘omalule ‘Upena Kiloi, or Metamorphosis of a Net Fisherman. Tribune-Herald.


Growing COVID-19 Outbreak At Maui Jail Has Inmates, Families Worried. Cases at the correctional center are rising and the state health department has identified the situation as a cluster. Civil Beat.

One Area of Maui’s Pandemic Economy Is Surprisingly Booming: Real Estate. And, it’s not just real estate in Kīhei or West Maui that is flourishing. All areas of the island have experienced high levels of sales activity this year. Maui Now.


Zuckerberg, Chan to fund relaunch of program that finds jobs for Kauai residents.
A program aimed at getting residents back to work on Kaua’i is starting up once again. In 2020, Kaua’i’s Rise to Work program found jobs for 280 workers who previously lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Hawaii News Now.

Adolescent center on next council agenda.
The integrated treatment and healing center was a priority for the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste and then-mayor Carvalho’s administration. Garden Island.

Students call for amending SB1147. Kaua‘i students joined a statewide effort against tobacco during the “March Against Menthol” on Rice Street fronting the Historic County Building. Garden Island.

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