Friday, April 2, 2021

State auditor slammed in House report, 16-year-olds and up now eligible for vaccines on two islands, Senate panel approves hikes in estate, conveyance taxes, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy state of Hawaii
State Auditor Les Kondo courtesy photo

Report: State Auditor Not In ‘Complete Compliance’ With Constitution. The office, currently led by State Auditor Les Kondo, was “inconsistent” in its application of auditing standards, leading to a years-long project by the staff to revise the office’s own operating and standards manual. The report, released Thursday by the Hawaii House of Representatives, concluded that the State Auditor has “not been in complete compliance” with article VII, section 10 of the Hawaii State Constitution, which could pave the way for Kondo’s removal. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Senate Panel Approves Increases In Hawaii Estate, Conveyance Taxes. The measure would also suspend some excise tax exemptions for various industries to generate extra tax revenue. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Restaurants Could Escape Shifting Pandemic Rules Under Proposed Program. An initiative to help small businesses avoid government mandates has gained traction with some policymakers and could eventually include other industries. Civil Beat.

Bill to disclose COVID-19 cases by school makes headway at Hawaii Legislature. A bill requiring the Department of Education to publicly identify which schools have coronavirus cases is moving forward at the Legislature, although state officials are concerned it might lead to panic and stigma. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Jockeys For Advantage In Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan. Local politicians, business leaders and labor organizers say Hawaii needs funds to reduce its dependence on petroleum, boost rail and improve wastewater systems. Civil Beat.

How Addressing Hawaii’s Affordable Housing Crisis Could Help Farming Efforts. Farmers say housing insecurity threatens their ability to retain employees and makes it difficult to ramp up production. Civil Beat.

Hawaii officials concerned about dramatic increases in car rental prices. Daily prices for rental cars in Hawaii are in the hundreds and the issue has caught the attention of state authorities. Hawaii has seen car rental prices as high as $600 a day while some are even higher. KHON2.

Hawaii traffic fatalities more than double for first 3 months of 2021. In the first three months of this year, the state of Hawaii tallied 25 traffic-related fatalities, four more than during the same time period last year. Star-Advertiser.

Vaccination sites prepare to ramp up as record number of doses head to Hawaii. It’s the moment health officials have been waiting for: A record number of COVID vaccines are on the way to Hawaii and immunization sites are getting ready. Hawaii News Now.

Neighbor Islands to expand vaccine eligibility to those age 16 and 18 as more doses arrive. As the state receives more COVID vaccine doses, the Department of Health is asking Neighbor Islands to expand eligibility -- and many counties are jumping at the opportunity. Hawaii News Now.

April 1, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 114 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Thursday, including 72 on O‘ahu, 30 on Maui, eight on Hawai‘i Island, and four in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.


Oahu restaurants maneuver new ban on plastic ware. Honolulu restaurants are adjusting to the ban on plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic utensils that went into effect Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Kahuku Wind Farm Case Goes Before Hawaii Supreme Court. The fate of dozens of endangered hoary bats was at the center of state Supreme Court arguments on Thursday in a case that could stall the operations of a controversial wind farm in Kahuku and raise the stakes for other renewable energy projects in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Replacing paper passes, HOLO cards are the new way to pay on the bus. A new pass system is being implemented for riders of TheBus. The old paper passes are being replaced with a new, modern HOLO card that riders can tap against a card reader when they enter the bus. Hawaii News Now. Star-Advertiser.

Former Oahu Little League coach charged with 15 counts of child pornography. Federal prosecutors have charged a former Oahu Little League coach with 15 counts of child pornography. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

COVID vaccinations now open to all Big Island residents 16 and older. As it prepares to administer 5,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday, Hilo Medical Center announced its expanded eligibility Thursday. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now.

Post-flight COVID testing to be scaled back. Testing of arriving trans-Pacific travelers at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole and Hilo International Airport will be reduced by 50% in April, said Cyrus Johnasen, spokesman for Mayor Mitch Roth. West Hawaii Today.

Youth Challenge Academy funds pass budget muster. When the state Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the House’s version of a $31.36 billion operating budget for the next two fiscal years starting July 1, funding was included for the Hawaii National Guard Youth Challenge Academy in Hilo, which had been on the chopping block early in the legislative session. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiʻi PUC Suspends PGV Docket Pending Environmental Review. Puna Geothermal Ventures and Hawaiian Electric are proposing to expand the geothermal generation facility’s capacity from 38 megawatts to 46 megawatts, extend the PPA term by 30 years, and decrease pricing, among other things. Big Island Video News.

Owners of Hilo Iron Works building request change of zoning. The building, which was built in 1907, was the subject of a Windward Planning Commission discussion Thursday, with the owners of the building requesting a change of zoning for the site in order to make working with the building more palatable for developers. Tribune-Herald.


Maui church, King’s Cathedral & Chapels disputes virus cluster designation. King’s Cathedral &Chapels is pushing back against the state Department of Health’s determination of a COVID- 19 cluster of at least 55 infections among church members, saying the cases were scattered across its two dozen congregations in Maui County. Star-Advertiser. Maui News. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Victorino seeks mandatory post-arrival test for travelers. Citing fast-moving variants sweeping the island, Mayor Michael Victorino on Wednesday said a second test may be mandated come mid-April for returning residents and visitors to Maui County. Maui News.

Virtual Conference To Explore Energy Transition in Hawaiʻi Set for June 22 & 24. The 8th Hawaiʻi Energy Conference to explore the “Energy Transition in Hawaiʻi: Focus on investments in people and projects” will be held virtually June 22 and 24. Maui Now.


Vaccines offered to all 16 and older. The county announced that all residents age 16 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines beginning Monday, April 5, at clinics around the island. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i County reentering state Safe Travels program. Kaua‘i is reentering the state’s Safe Travels program on Monday, April 5, and as the island prepares to welcome back more travelers, the County of Kaua‘i is also starting to reopen some doors and restructure some rules at the Lihu‘e Civic Center Kapule Building. Garden Island.

$3.5M capital-improvement-project funds released for Kaua‘i. The projects span from road safety and school improvements to design for the Ahukini landfill and new medical equipment. Garden Island.

Bills HB160, HB161 aim to clean up the streets. The county Abandoned Vehicles Task Force is currently lobbying the state Legislature to pass HB160 and HB161, actions that would help boost owner accountability. Garden Island.

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