Friday, March 26, 2021

Hawaii tax burden highest in nation, state opens vaccinations to 60 and up, unemployment call center shuts down after worker tests positive, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hula demonstration at Merrie Monarch festival ©2021 All Hawaii News

Merrie Monarch competition will take place in June with no live audience. The vaunted hula competition was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii opens vaccines to people 60 and older. The state health director did an about-face Thursday afternoon when she opened COVID-19 vaccinations beginning Monday to those 60 and older in the state. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii unemployment call center shuts down after staffer tests positive for COVID-19. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations shut down operations at the call center at the Hawai‘i Convention Center ballroom in Waikiki after the staff member tested positive on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.  Civil Beat. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Hawaii thinktank shows state tax burden is highest in the nation. Using data from the National Association of State Budget Officers and the U.S. Census Bureau, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii found the per capita burden for Hawaii is $5,428 in 2020, which is compared to national averages of $2,664 in 2020. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii businesses, unemployed on the hook for $450M in taxes
as state opts not to follow federal lead. If you received federal relief to help cope during the coronavirus pandemic, prepare for a hefty tax bill — not from the feds, but from the state. KHON2.

Spring acceleration helps Safe Travels hit 2 million travelers. Traveler screenings under Safe Travels Hawaii, the state’s COVID-19 testing entry program, passed the 2 million mark this week as March momentum fueled the visitor industry. Star-Advertiser.

Despite potential obstacles, state pushes forward on vaccine passport plan. The start of Hawaii’s vaccine passport program might take a bit longer than expected, but state officials say they’re committed to the idea. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s daily visitor count averaged 90,776 in February. The daily visitor census in Hawaii, on any given day in February, was about 36% of the same time last year. Star-Advertiser. West Hawaii Today. Hawaii News Now.

Food aid fails to keep up with need among Hawaii’s hungry. Nearly half of all households with children in Hawaii are “food insecure,” with 15% simply not having enough to eat, according to a new report from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Social Sciences. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

$1.1 Million in New Grants Awarded To Accelerate Vaccinations to Hawai’i’s Underserved Residents. The Hawai‘i Community Foundation is investing $1.1 million in new grants to support and accelerate community vaccination efforts for underserved residents of Hawai’i. Maui Now.

Hawaii Senate Considering Recognition Of Micronesian Contributions. Citing historical relationships and current hardships, the resolutions call for support of Compact of Free Association migrants. Civil Beat.

Strong Conservation Efforts Lead to Proposal To Downlist Endangered Hawaiian Stilt to Threatened. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to downlist the aeʻo (Hawaiian stilt)from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is seeking public comment on the proposed change in status for the aeʻo from March 24 – May 24.  Maui Now.

12 COVID cases reported in fully vaccinated individuals in Hawaii, DOH says. Classified as ‘breakthrough cases,’ the infections happened no sooner than 14 days after the individuals got their second dose. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

March 25, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 122 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Thursday, including 84 on O‘ahu, 20 on Maui, 12 on Hawai‘i Island, and six in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed outside of the state. Maui Now.

Oahu

Honolulu rail project still determining who is responsible for needed rail track repairs.
With 16 miles out of 20 built, the rail is continuing to grapple with repairs needed for track infrastructure. Star-Advertiser.

Opponents demonstrate against putting solar farm on Hawaiian Home Lands site.
Opponents of a planned solar energy farm on land in Nanakuli Valley owned by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands took to a busy street during rush-hour traffic Thursday to protest the project. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Police Overtime Reached New Heights In The Last Fiscal Year. The Honolulu Police Department said on Thursday that it spent nearly $40 million on overtime in fiscal year 2020, more than double the amount five years earlier. Civil Beat.

City releases draft assessment for a proposed pedestrian bridge across the Ala Wai Canal. The city published a Draft Environmental Assessment Tuesday for the proposed project to construct a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the Ala Wai Canal. Hawaii News Now.

These Makaha Residents Are Hoping To Move A Major Highway. Moving Farrington Highway mauka of Makaha Beach Park has been part of a master plan since 1998. Civil Beat.

Honolulu police issue 93 citations, make 6 arrests for trespassing in just over a week at Haiku Stairs. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Construction to begin on upcoming business park in West Oahu.  A ceremonial groundbreaking was held this week for the upcoming Hoopili Business Park in Leeward Oahu, adding to what many say is the island’s growing “second city.”  Private investment company Jupiter Holdings will begin building on a 44 acre plot of land between the H-1 Freeway and Farrington Highway. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Guy Paul, former police chief, dies at 85. Guy Anthony Paul, former Hawaii County police chief, died March 18 at Hale Anuenue in Hilo after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

After confusion over high school graduation ceremonies, Maui mayor says it will be held in-person. Parents of Baldwin High School received an email from the school giving seniors an option to either have a drive-through diploma presentation with their families or a graduates-only ceremony. Hawaii News Now.

Maui Visitors Down 52% Through February to 29,060 Per Day. For the first two months of 2021, visitors to Maui were down 58 percent to 29,060 visitors per day, compared to a census of 69,281 visitors per day at the same time in 2020. Maui Now.

Health Department’s cluster report looks at ‘spillover’ cases on Maui. The DOH is investigating a cluster in a Maui middle school where one cluster most likely “spilled over” into another. Officials say all the cases in the school cluster can be linked to source cases in their households that belong to two other clusters: one in a large, faith-based setting and another among hotel employees. KHON2.

Kauai

County sees another lean fiscal year. The last time the state paid the county its cut of the transient accommodations tax was in April 2020. Garden Island.

Wording mix-up defers use-permit application. An application to bring permitting compliance to the Longman Jiu-Jitsu Academy and add a juice bar to the Kilauea Old Mill Building brought dozens of testifiers out to a county Planning Commission meeting earlier this month. Garden Island.


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