Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Ige describes how he spent $1.9T ARPA funds, state legislative session starts today, Hawaii's Tongans await word from relatives, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii’s share of $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief funding provided by the federal government last year is going to be used down to the last dollar, according to Gov. David Ige. The governor Tuesday provided a partial accounting of the $1.6 billion in American Rescue Plan Act aid sent to Hawaii in May and said much of it has already been spent while the rest will be spent by a 2026 deadline. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Minimum wage, teacher shortages among hot topics in upcoming legislative session. Economic recovery, teacher shortages, the minimum wage. Those are some of the hot topics that will be discussed as the state Legislature reconvenes Wednesday for its 2022 session. Hawaii News Now.

Tax breaks and preserving Hawaii’s drinking water among the priorities for state lawmakers
this session. More tax breaks for working families and more efforts to preserve Hawaii’s drinking water. Those are some of the priorities for lawmakers for the legislative session, which starts Wednesday, Jan. 19. KHON2.

Hawaii Legislature’s session once again to begin quietly. Today’s opening of the new legislative session once again will be a staid affair absent music, dance and spreads of food following nearly two years of COVID-19-induced layoffs, unemployment and struggles for island businesses. Star-Advertiser.

State Suspends Contract For Security Guards That Watch Over The Hawaii Capitol. The original plan was that private security would help with mask and vaccination requirements as the Capitol reopened. Then omicron hit. Civil Beat.

Progressive Legislative Caucus hopes to raise minimum wage and legalize cannabis. When the Progressive Legislative Caucus formed right before last year’s legislative session, the group of 13 state representatives and five senators didn’t have enough time to prepare a bill package. After a year of preparation, the caucus hopes to pass five bills covering a wide range of topics. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii House committee’s auditor report late, needs more time. Hearings to investigate critical audits of state land management that quickly pivoted into an investigation of state Auditor Les Kondo — and were scheduled to produce a final report in November — have now extended well into January and require at least another 10 days. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

The University Of Hawaii Asks Legislators For An Additional $75 Million.
The university says it needs the funds to make up for severe budget cuts last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Civil Beat.

Gubernatorial candidate and Hawaii Real Estate Developer Calls Himself A ‘Social Worker At Heart’. Peter Savio has had a long career advocating for locally owned affordable housing. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Bob McDermott Running For US Senate.
The GOP lawmaker wants to unseat Democrat Brian Schatz and shut down the Red Hill fuel facility. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Hawaii’s Tongan community eagerly awaits word on loved ones
. With communications cut off from relatives in Tonga, thousands of Tongan Americans in Hawaii, as elsewhere, are desperately seeking information on the welfare of family members. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaii extends online learning by a week amid COVID surge. In response to the state’s recent record-high counts in new COVID-19 cases, spurred by the highly contagious omicron variant, the University of Hawaii’s 10 campuses are extending online learning by a week. Star-Advertiser.

As surge drags on, DOE outlines its criteria for deciding if a school should switch to virtual learning.
Schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi says staffing, appropriate supervision outside of the classroom, and key support services are the considerations the department is using to determine whether a school should temporarily move to distance learning. Hawaii News Now.

DOE suspends dozens of school bus routes amid drivers shortage
, leaving families with few options. The state has had a shortage of school bus drivers since the school year began — and the Omicron surge has only made things worse. As of Tuesday, two dozen routes are suspended statewide. Hawaii News Now. Big Island Now. KITV4.

Local epidemiologist calls for better COVID data systems,
booster requirement for Safe Travels. East-West Center epidemiologist Tim Brown predicted this situation and warned people weeks ago to invest in a higher quality mask. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii sets record with 6,252 new coronavirus cases
, bringing state’s total to 180,838. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 3,949 new cases on Oahu, 834 on Hawaii Island, 816 on Maui, 547 on Kauai, 24 on Molokai, 10 on Lanai and 72 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Navy Hires Contractor To Assess Integrity Of Red Hill Fuel Facility. The company will conduct one of several investigations into the facility that leaked fuel into military families’ drinking water. Civil Beat.

Illegal Gambling Rooms Keep Springing Up But Police Have Few Tools To Shut Them Down. Honolulu police conduct dozens of raids every year and have seized more than 700 machines that still sit, unclaimed, in a warehouse on Oahu. Civil Beat.

Redevelopment projects in Keeaumoku to change neighborhood landscape. From new hotel operators to new condominium developments, the Keeaumoku Street area will see plenty of changes, and some are even calling it the new Kakaako. KHON2.

Waikiki Galleria Tower owner sues DFS over back rent. BlackSand Capital and Waikiki Galleria Tower have filed a lawsuit against DFS, the current retail tenant of Galleria Tower, for nonpayment of about $7 million in back rent and failing to perform tens of millions in restoration work. Star-Advertiser.

City: Big fines haven’t stopped ‘egregious violator’ from flouting environmental laws. City officials say a Windward Oahu construction company is flouting zoning and environmental laws. But despite steep fines, the city hasn’t been able to stop the company. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Trail acquisition dropped; official: ‘County would gain very little’ by fighting to obtain path to Papaikou beach. Mayor Mitch Roth has decided to abandon efforts to acquire a trail to Papaikou Mill Beach, county officials said Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Future of $10.5M compost facility still uncertain. Executives for a stalled $10.5 million composting project addressed a County Council panel Tuesday, extolling the virtues of a centralized system, while other island recycling groups pushed for a distributed system of smaller facilities across the island. West Hawaii Today.

UH Board of Regents nearing vote on latest Maunakea Master Plan.
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is expected to make a decision about the Maunakea Master Plan soon. A meeting will be held on Thursday to go over the proposed master plan for their summit, which has a 20-year span and prioritizes the building of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope. Hawaii News Now.

Council members get update on Big Island Film Office
s; some express frustration over lack of progress. Hawaii County Council members expressed frustration Tuesday that the county has not yet appointed a new film commissioner. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

MIL relaxes spectator ban after parents rally to attend games. Effective immediately a “limited number” of parents/guardians of participating teams will be allowed to attend MIL events, MIL announced online Tuesday. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Developer seeks workforce housing credits for Pulelehua development
in West Maui. Maui Oceanview, LP, is requesting that the Maui Department of Housing and Human Concerns issue 120 workforce housing credits for its Pulelehua development in West Maui. Maui Now.

Kauai

Whale Ocean Count modified due to COVID-19.
The whales are back, as evidenced by the numerous sightings and, more recently, the incident with an entangled whale off the Po‘ipu shoreline. Garden Island.

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