Monday, April 26, 2021

Lawmakers focus on farmers, counties struggle with vacation rental laws, Mauna Kea working group comes together as TMT gets nod for runoff permit, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii farmers market pre-COVID ©2021 All Hawaii News

Bill would require 10% of Hawaii-bought produce to be local. The legislation, if approved by Ige, would mandate that a minimum of 10% of produce purchased by state departments be grown locally by 2025. That percentage requirement would increase every five years to 50% by 2050. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s Food Hubs Find Strength In Numbers. A group of food hubs came together to support legislation that would win them new access to grant money. The bill failed, but the networking is paying off. Food hubs are distribution networks that buy, market and sell local ingredients to grocers, schools, food banks, small businesses and families, while allowing local farmers to concentrate on farming. Civil Beat.

First HUD 184 Mortgage Loan Prequalification Issued to a Farmer on Hawaiian Home Lands. The first loan prequalification has been issued to a native Hawaiian farm lessee under the HUD 184a mortgage program specifically enacted by Congress 20 years ago for Hawaiian Home Land properties, according to the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations. Maui Now.

Lawmakers plan to use half of federal relief funds to bail out Hawaii businesses. After weeks of saying the newest round of federal relief funds can’t be used to cover tax breaks of any kind, including relief for low-income workers and the unemployed, state lawmakers are now poised to use nearly half of the $1.6 billion allocated to the state under the American Rescue Plan Act to provide tax relief to Hawaii businesses. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii legislators look ahead to a more ambitious 2022 session. With the 31st Hawaii State Legislature scheduled to adjourn Thursday, some lawmakers are already looking to the 2022 session to push ahead on issues that appear stalled this year, including raising the minimum wage, doing more on climate change and affordable housing, expanding broadband service, diversifying the isle economy and perhaps legalizing recreational marijuana. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers advance bill permitting traditional Hawaiian burial practices. State lawmakers have advanced a bill to the brink of potential passage in an effort to allow burials that are consistent with the Hawaiian cultural tradition of interring only the bones of the dearly departed. Star-Advertiser.

Bill Banning Balloon Releases Sent to Governor's Desk. A bill prohibiting intentional balloon releases passed through the state Legislature last week and has been sent to Governor David Ige's desk. Hawaii Public Radio. West Hawaii Today.

Campaign Finance Records Suggest An Easy Reelection Bid For Brian Schatz. Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz recently announced his 2022 reelection campaign. He already has more than $3 million in the bank for it. Civil Beat.

Reserved areas for residents-only: HTA asks communities to consider new ideas for tourism. Reserving areas for residents-only on the weekends. It’s an idea brought up by the President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. HTA says it has been talking to residents in every county as part of its community-based tourism program. KHON2.

Hawaii’s prekindergarten classes lauded for quality not quantity. Hawaii’s public prekindergarten program got top marks for quality in a new national report, one of only six states to do so, but ranked near the bottom for how many 4-year-olds it reaches. Star-Advertiser.

Marine Corps rotation to Australia continues amid COVID concerns. Hawaii is sending more Marines to Australia this year as part of an annual rotational deployment intended to increase combat capability west of the international date line as a counter to China and while the Corps tries to keep a lid on COVID-19 cases. Star-Advertiser.

Some Pacific Islanders Hit Hardest By COVID-19 Can’t Get Federal Aid For Burials. U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said she is working to extend the help to citizens of nations in compacts with the U.S., some of whom face crippling costs for burials. Civil Beat.

Hawaii To Resume Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine After Safety Review. Federal health officials said the one-shot vaccine was “safe and effective” in preventing COVID-19 despite the rare risk of blood clots. Civil Beat. Maui News.

April 25, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 122 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Sunday, including 98 on O‘ahu, 12 on Maui, six on Hawai‘i Island, three on Kaua‘i, and three in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.


Honolulu puts vacation rental registration program on hold. The City and County of Honolulu has pressed pause on the start of a registration process for vacation rentals on Oahu following concerns raised at a public hearing on the process earlier this month. Pacific Business News.

City Council considers measure that would create a progressive residential property tax. A proposal before the City Council would expand the tiers for property taxes on investment properties to allow for five different property tax rates to be applied as a property’s value increases. Star-Advertiser.

Change in use of force policy preceded two fatal Honolulu police shootings.
The Honolulu Police Department’s revised use of force policy that went into effect this month is being tested by separate investigations into two fatal shootings of unarmed suspects by police officers that have renewed calls for transparency, led to a wrongful death lawsuit and pushed Honolulu further into the national debate over how far police officers may go to keep the community safe. Star-Advertiser.

The ‘Mauka Shift’ Could Solve Rail’s Utility Woes. Why Did It Happen So Late? HART’s inability to relocate utilities along Dillingham is central to rail’s latest staggering cost spikes. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers approve funds needed for red light enforcement camera program to move ahead. A legislative conference committee has approved an additional $2 million for a program aimed at catching motorists who run red lights at intersections. Hawaii News Now.

New Aloha Stadium Development May Finally Move Forward. The state is gathering ideas for development surrounding the stadium as lawmakers move ahead with giving the Stadium Authority more powers. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Formation of Mauna Kea working group on target despite boycott. The nomination deadline will come Monday for Native Hawaiians who want to serve on a volunteer panel newly created by the state House of Representative to propose a new governance and management structure for Mauna Kea. Star-Advertiser.

State recommends renewal of stormwater runoff permit for TMT construction site.
On April 8, the DEpartment of Health Clean Water Branch issued a recommendation that the department’s director renew the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory Site on Maunakea, which was originally issued in 2014. Tribune-Herald.

Vacation rentals take a hit: County looks to revise rules. The Big Island’s vacation rental industry took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving county government unsure how it would pay for the extra staffers hired to process permits in the department. West Hawaii Today.

Residents voice concerns over Ka‘u land purchase. The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday approved a $1.5 million grant to the Ala Kahakai Trail Association to buy nearly 2,000 acres in Ka‘u. Tribune-Herald.


Budget panel cuts Visitors Bureau funding. Saying they want to see more tourism management and “not more promotion” of the island, Maui County Council members are transferring county funding from the Maui Visitors Bureau and putting some of the money toward tourism management grants. Maui News.

Green visits hospital as variant cases rise on Maui. Maui Memorial Medical Center announced Friday that it will be open to walk-ins ages 16 and older beginning Tuesday. Maui News.


Kauai gets alternative fuel corridor status. The Federal Highway Administration has approved the Kauai Alternative Fuel Corridor, a move that will give the island streamlined access to potential funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Star-Advertiser. Garden Island.

Smith’s Fern Grotto tour reopens. Businesses, resorts and tours are reopening on Kaua‘i as visitor numbers increase, and Smith’s Tropical Paradise is one of them. Garden Island.

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