Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Minimum wage hike advances, Honolulu plans examiner pleads guilty to bribery, Maui mayor tests positive for COVID, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Quick start for wage bill: Proposal to hike minimum hourly rate to $18 advances on unanimous vote. A bill that would almost double Hawaii’s minimum wage — incrementally increasing it to $18 per hour by Jan. 1, 2026 — has broken quickly out of the gate at the start of this year’s legislative session. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Hawaii News Now.

Proposed bill would nearly cut Hawaii’s legal limit for drunk driving in half. Some Hawaii lawmakers want to almost cut the legal limit for drunk driving in half. A measure moving through the State Legislature would do just that — but it has gotten pushback in previous years. KHON2.

Hawaii’s state auditor Les Kondo blasts House hearings as ‘hit job’. Auditor Les Kondo has blasted a draft report of a five-month-long special House Investigative Committee that was created to scrutinize two audits but quickly expanded into an investigation of Kondo and his office. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, enters his final year in office with a rare show of emotion.
Gov. David Ige regularly thanks the people of Hawaii who have sacrificed and worked together over the past two years of COVID-19, but choked up at the end of his eighth — and last — State of the State address Monday when he spoke in a nearly empty ceremonial room at the state Capitol and wondered to himself when he’ll ever be able to hug and thank people in person. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Hawaiian Airlines finishes strong but delays Japan ramp-up.
Hawaiian Airlines said it ended 2021 with strong demand and positive signs of recovery in domestic travel but that it has delayed ramping up service to Japan until the second quarter due to the lingering omicron variant. Star-Advertiser. Bloomberg News.

Gov. Ige confirms booster shot requirement will soon be added to Hawaii’s Safe Travels Program. The requirement would mean travelers to the State of Hawaii would need to have their COVID booster shot in order to by-pass quarantine. The other option for folks not vaccinated or who haven’t gotten their booster would be to get a negative COVID test taken 72 hours before departure. KHON2.

Hawaii sees 1,904 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 206,837.
The  new confirmed and probable infection count includes 1,445 cases on Oahu, 142 on Hawaii Island, 170 on Maui, 90 on Kauai, two on Molokai, six on Lanai and 49 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Former Honolulu city official pleads guilty in permits bribery scheme. A former building plans examiner with the Honolulu planning department pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking bribes in exchange for expediting the approval of permit applications. Associated Press. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Governor Says He’s Not Ready To Permanently Close Red Hill. The governor wants to see proof the Navy can operate the fuel tanks safely but says he’ll consider issuing the facility a new permit. Civil Beat.

Red Hill monitoring results show elevated levels of petroleum chemicals in soil vapor and groundwater. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on Tuesday pressed the Navy to release its full investigation into what caused the fuel contamination in its drinking water system, saying that it is essential that the public “has a full accounting of the multiple failures at Red Hill.” Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. KITV4.

Plans for fuel storage facilities in the Pacific could offer alternatives to Red Hill. The military has said that Red Hill is strategically important in the Pacific, but concedes there could be alternatives. Hawaii News Now.

Bill proposes to roll out enforcement positions at Wawamalu Beach. A new measure in the state Legislature could lead to more protections for e beach located on the Makapu'u side of Sandy Beach. Bill 2799, introduced by Sen. Chris Lee, aims to designate the area as the Kaiwi Coast State Park under the Department of Land and Natural Resources. KITV4.

Hawaii lawmakers look for federal help, dogs to combat illegal fireworks. Tuesday night, the Pearl City neighborhood board asked for help from state lawmakers and the federal government. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Police misconduct up in ‘21: Five HPD officers terminated, 21 suspended. Five Hawaii County police officers were fired and 21 others suspended without pay in 2021, according to the Hawaii Police Department’s annual disciplinary report to the state Legislature.  West Hawaii Today.

House bill would phase out University of Hawaii, create new Mauna Kea stewardship authority. Oversight of Mauna Kea’s summit would be the purview of a new stewardship authority, instead of the University of Hawaii, under a proposal set to be considered by the state Legislature. House Bill 2024 requires the new entity to develop a framework to limit astronomy development and create a plan to return the summit to its natural state. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald. Associated Press.

Big Island bioenergy firm appeals case to the Supreme Court again. Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC, which has been entangled in a multiyear fight to begin operating a biomass plant on Hawaii Island, will have its case heard before the Hawaii Supreme Court for the third time as it attempts to win approval from the state Public Utilities Commission for the $474 million project. Star-Advertiser.

PIT count returns: Annual survey of homelessness underway. The annual Point in Time Count is underway on the Big Island with volunteers and advocates working to provide a snapshot of all those experiencing homelessness in the community. West Hawaii Today.


Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino tests positive for COVID-19. Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino tested positive for COVID-19 today. His office announced all close contacts have been notified and the mayor is in isolation at home. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Council Member Mike Molina announces bid for Maui mayor.
Known for his public school teaching and Maui County Council tenure, Mike Molina announced Tuesday evening that he will leave his Makawao-Haʻikū-Pāʻia residency seat in a bid for mayor.  Maui Now.

Sen. Schatz to discuss infrastructure bill’s local impacts at Maui Council committee. The Maui County Council’s Infrastructure and Transportation Committee will meet Thursday, Jan. 27, at 9 a.m. to hear a presentation by US Senator Brian Schatz on local impacts of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, signed into law by President Biden on Nov. 15. Maui Now.


Wilcox Elementary School transitions to remote learning. Tuesday, Wilcox Elementary School transitioned to a distance-learning model that will last through and including Thursday. Garden Island.

Menehune Road in Waimea reopens. Menehune Road, at the site of a rockfall earlier this month, has reopened, according to officials Tuesday. Garden Island.

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