Friday, March 5, 2021

Legislature mulls lifting tax on unemployment checks, Oahu edges toward Tier 4 reopening, Mauna Kea management group advances, Hirono memoir to be published next month, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hirono Memoir Heart of Fire

Mazie Hirono Memoir To Be Published In April. It will chronicle her immigrant journey from Japan to Hawaii and all the way to the U.S. Senate. Civil Beat.

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Hawaii unemployment compensation tax exemption bill advances. A proposal to exempt unemployment compensation from state income taxes won a key approval on Thursday with the Senate Ways and Means Committee unanimously approving the measure. Star-Advertiser.

Here’s How Tax Increases Are Shaking Out In The Hawaii Legislature.
Senators moved to raise income taxes on high earners, and the House passed capital gains and inheritance tax increases. Civil Beat.

State offers more food stamp flexibility amid record participation. As Hawaii continues to grapple with high unemployment and a slow economic recovery, tens of thousands of people are turning to food stamps for assistance. Nearly 198,000 people in Hawaii are now on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Hawaii News Now.

Gas prices on the rise again, could continue rising throughout the year. In this last 30 days we’ve seen it go up about 15 to 16 cents a gallon, so that’s pretty significant for Hawaii. KHON2.

Could Tech Companies Help Diversify Hawaii's Economy? Lieutenant Governor Josh Green told KITV4 he thinks returning pre-pandemic level tourism would be detrimental to the environment and suggested incentivizing technology companies to relocate to Hawaii as a way to boost the local economy. KITV4.

Kahele, Case Divided On Whether Inmates Should Vote From Prison. A failed amendment to a House bill that seeks to expand voting rights and reduce the influence of money in politics highlights some differences between Hawaii’s Democratic congressmen. Civil Beat.

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No BOE decision on in-person learning. At its Thursday meeting to discuss safely opening schools by the fourth quarter, it was determined that a decision could be made at the next meeting, in two weeks. Garden Island.

Board of Ed Defers Debate On Superintendent Contract Renewal. Christina Kishimoto has called criticism of her leadership style “a distraction,” saying she needs to focus on more important issues. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Unions, teachers urge Board of Education to reject new contract for superintendent. In extensive testimony Thursday, union leaders and educators called on the Board of Education to reject a new contract for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. Hawaii News Now. Star-Advertiser.

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March 4, 2021 COVID-19 Update: There were 60 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Thursday, including 36 on O‘ahu, 15 on Maui, four on Hawai‘i Island, one on Kaua‘i and four in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed outside of the state. Maui Now.

Oahu

Oahu could move to Tier 4 reopening if COVID-19 cases continue to drop. Honolulu’s seven-day rolling average of new cases was 23 on Thursday with an average positivity rate of 0.9%, meeting one benchmark to move to Tier 4, which allows gatherings of up to 25 people, up from 10. Star-Advertiser.

DUI first time offenders accept lesser conviction in efforts to speed up court backlogs. Prosecutors and defense lawyers are turning to compromise to get cases moving through the courts. They have agreed on a lesser conviction for first-time DUI offenders in an effort to reduce the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic. KHON2.

Median price of a single-family home on Oahu hits a new high: $920,000. The record comes as Hawaii’s housing market continues to experience strong demand amid low supply. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Lawmaker Wants Report On Military Seawall at Ewa Beach. State officials have warned that a proposed seawall to protect the Marines’ Puuloa Range Training Facility would cause massive coastal erosion. Civil Beat.

Surf equity bill for contests at North Shore parks advances. A measure requiring gender equity for certain sports activities needing a park use permit from the city Department of Parks and Recreation was recommended for passage with amendments by the Parks and Community Services Committee of the Honolulu City Council in its Thursday meeting. Star-Advertiser.

Monkeypod restaurant to anchor Outrigger Reef. Renowned Hawaii chef Peter Merriman will be the driving force of the new signature beachfront restaurant at the transformed Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

State House approves resolution to develop new Mauna Kea management structure. The state House of Representatives Thursday approved a resolution to form a working group that will develop a new management structure for Mauna Kea. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory could be removed from the summit of Maunakea
as early as the end of next year. Caltech representatives presented their decommissioning plans for the observatory at a Tuesday meeting of the University of Hawaii’s Maunakea Management Board. Tribune-Herald.

$884K change order pushes up cost of Kilauea roadwork. Part of a statewide transportation improvement program, the rehabilitation work includes repaving, installing pavement markers, striping and traffic detectors along a 1.5-mile stretch of the Hilo thoroughfare, from the Waiola Bridge to Puainako Street. Tribune-Herald.

100-foot cinder cone left by Kilauea’s fissure 8 gets a name. The 100-foot cinder cone that marks the spot of the prolific and most prominent vent in the 2018 Kilauea eruption has been christened with a name: Ahu‘aila‘au. Star-Advertiser. West Hawaii Today. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Sustainability Summit explores ecological issues on Big Island.
The two-day Sustainability Summit hosted by the Office of the Mayor covers a range of topics from climate change to waste management to food security and more. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

90-unit affordable rental project gets nod from committee. Developers of a 90-unit affordable housing project in Kihei are seeking nearly $6 million from the county’s Affordable Housing Fund to help acquire land for the project. Maui News.

Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority Published Visitor Management Plan for Maui Nui. The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority has published the 2021-2023 Maui Nui Destination Management Action Plan, which is part of the authority’s strategic vision and continuing efforts to manage tourism in a responsible and regenerative manner. Maui Now.

Central Maui Traffic Signal Upgrades Planned, March 10. Five traffic signals in Central Maui are scheduled for upgrades starting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Maui Now.

Lanai and Molokai on track to make COVID vaccine available to all residents 16 and up.  More than half of Lanai and Molokai residents have received at least one vaccine dose and the shot will soon be available to eligible residents 16 and older, according to the Hawaii Department of Health. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai

EPA Directs 7 Illegal Cesspools on Kauaʻi To Close & Fines Hawaiʻi DLNR. The US Environmental Protection Agency has taken enforcement action on Kauaʻi, directing the closure of seven large-capacity cesspools that have been banned since 2005 and collecting $221,670 in fines from the cesspools owner, the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Climate-action forum is Wednesday. Zero Waste Kaua‘i is hosting a Kaua‘i Climate Action Forum on Wednesday, March 10, at 6 p.m. Garden Island.

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