Monday, January 31, 2022

Reapportionment Commission adopts new maps, half of all COVID-19 infections came in January, lawmakers push to legalize gambling, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Bill aims to protect endangered species.
House Bill 1979, introduced Wednesday, would require developers whose projects could inadvertently kill or harm a threatened or endangered species to prepare a Habitat Conservation Plan with the Department of Land and Natural Resources beforehand, and would enact penalties for failing to do so. Tribune-Herald.

Commission adopts new Hawaii district maps despite community pushback.
The state Reapportionment Commission stayed the course Friday and finalized House and Senate election maps for the next decade, shaking off resident complaints from Hawaii Island and Oahu, citizen-produced alternative maps and even the threat of lawsuits in its 8-1 decision. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. West Hawaii Today.

Investigative committee finds no criminal wrongdoing by state auditor.
A special House Investigative Committee created last year to look into audits of land management practices by two state agencies began in mid-July, mushroomed to include an investigation of State Auditor Les Kondo himself, and generated at least 30,000 pages of subpoenaed documents — with hundreds, perhaps thousands more, that have yet to be counted. Star-Advertiser.

Legalized gambling gets renewed push. The issue of breaking Hawaii’s prohibition on all forms of legal gambling is once again before the state Legislature — and one bill would cautiously renew the debate over whether the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands should be allowed to build a casino resort to generate badly needed revenue to help clear the backlog of Native Hawaiians waiting for homes. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

$100 tax refund proposal may run into headwinds at the Legislature, Tax Foundation says. The head of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii says Gov. David Ige’s proposal to give every resident a $100 rebate may run into headwinds in the Legislature. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers consider aid for food banks as need persists. Hawaii’s Legislature typically doesn’t appropriate general fund revenue to support local food banks, but this year such a move is being proposed given extraordinary circumstances. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers push for "Ariel's Bill". The bill would allow staff with child welfare services to continue check ups with families who ARE receiving state payments even after adoption, which is currently not the case. KITV4.

How Hawaii’s School Bus Woes Contribute To Student Absences. The problems seen at the beginning of the school year persist, with 30 school bus routes temporarily suspended last week. Civil Beat.

New bill would allow tow-in surfing in Hawaii’s smaller waves. A bill that would amend state law to allow personal watercraft to tow surfers into waves below high-surf warning levels, as determined by the National Weather Service, has been introduced in the state Senate. Star-Advertiser.

Astronomy adds $110M per year in direct spending, University of Hawaii says. The state’s astronomy sector pumped $110 million into Hawaii’s economy in 2019 and generated an overall economic impact twice that, according to the summary of a University of Hawaii report released Sunday. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.

Over 100K COVID infections reported in January as new contagious sub-variant detected in Hawaii. From Jan. 1 through Jan. 30, the Hawaii Department of Health has reported 104,843 COVID-19 cases, which is about half of all COVID infections reported in the state since March 2020. KHON2.

Hawaii records 7 new coronavirus-related deaths, 2,741 additional infections.
The new confirmed and probable infection count includes 1,804 new cases on Oahu, 394 on Hawaii Island, 257 on Maui, 217 on Kauai, five on Molokai, six on Lanai, and 58 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Honolulu City Council to consider lowering property tax rate. Lowering the property tax rate is one of several measures the Honolulu City Council's considering as it looks to offset a dramatic increase in residential property assessments. KITV4.

Hawaii legislators seek to fix fireworks problem
. Legislators in both the state House and Senate are exploring ways to clamp down on the escalating use of illegal fireworks, including increased inspection of shipping containers and a new Honolulu Police Department undercover unit to catch users in the act. Star-Advertiser.

Among The Ideas For Screening Honolulu’s Police Chief Candidates: Sleep Deprivation. The proposal by the state’s police union was one of many made in response to the Police Commission’s request for community input on how to pick the next chief. Civil Beat.

Woman with ‘terrifying’ neighbor sues condo board, alleging they failed to stop harassment
. It's a case that is now raising questions about a condo association’s responsibility to protect residents from verbal and potential physical abuse. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmaker calls for DOT transparency as debate grows over road projects on Pali Highway. As debate grows over road projects like raising crosswalks on Pali Highway, one lawmaker is introducing a bill to ensure transparency from the state Department of Transportation. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Senate Bill Aims To Restore Kahaluʻu Beach Park. The proposed legislation considers a recent $50 million grant to the University of Hawaiʻi from Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan as a funding source for the project. Big Island Video News.

Water Board OKs consultant to chase federal money. With the prospect of more federal money becoming available for infrastructure funding, the county Water Board recently approved $75,000 to hire a consultant to go after some of it. West Hawaii Today.

Efforts are underway to conserve 2,317 acres of land near Nāʻālehu for lineal descendants. Future plans for more than 2,000 acres of conservation land in Kaʻū on Hawaiʻi Island may include limits to public access — with preference given to lineal descendants and area residents. Hawaii Public Radio.

Quality control: Hawaii Wai Ola provides community access to water testing data. A new dataset, made public this month by Hawaii Wai Ola, gives community members access to high quality, open-source water quality testing data dating back to June 2020. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Court ruling expected to delay solar project. Developers behind a solar and battery project in South Maui say a new court ruling will delay construction on the 15-megawatt solar, 60-megawatt-hour battery storage project slated for 150 acres mauka of Maui Meadows. Maui News.

HTA releases Molokaʻi Destination Management Action Plan progress report. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority is providing its second update on the progress toward fulfilling the Moloka‘i Destination Management Action Plan or DMAP, which is a part of the Maui Nui DMAP document. Maui News.

Kahekili Highway slope repair project announced. A slope repair project on Maui’s Kahekili Highway will result in road closures from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Feb. 7-16, 2022. Maui Now.

Hundreds of seabirds assisted during Hawaiʻi’s seabird fallout season. Every fall, young seabirds leave their nest to take their first flight towards the ocean and can become disoriented by artificial light, collide with man-made structures, or become exhausted and “fallout,” where they remain vulnerable to automobiles and predators. Maui Now.

Kauai

Kaua‘i statesman Ezra Kanoho remembered. Solomon Kanoho remembers his father Ezra Kanoho as a man who would stop to help strangers broken down on the side of the road, who would greet people on the street whether he knew them or not, and who — in the interest of public safety — would make his relatives practice CPR at family get-togethers. Garden Island.

First of 3 whale Ocean Counts held Saturday. Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteer Colleen Ogino was hoping to see a breach Saturday at the Ahukini State Recreational Pier viewing site that was sunny, with a calm ocean and just enough of a breeze to keep things cool. Garden Island.

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