Thursday, January 6, 2022

Teacher absences disrupt public schools, Honolulu mayor cuts crowd size by half, legislative leaders target governor's emergency powers, rainy day fund, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Interim Schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi

Staff shortages hit Hawaii public schools with 800 teachers out sick. Hawaii’s public schools are now starting to see disruptions due to rising teacher absences caused by the COVID-19 omicron variant surge, state schools interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi has confirmed. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Gov. David Ige’s emergency powers, Rainy Day proposal face challenges. Following nearly two years of COVID-19-related emergency proclamations issued by Gov. David Ige, the state House plans to consider legislation that would allow lawmakers to restrict the governor’s ability to issue future emergency proclamations through a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

State tax collections for most months of 2021 surpassed 2019 levels. State general excise tax collections have surpassed 2019 levels for half of 2021. That’s according Eugene Tian, the stateʻs chief economist. He briefed state lawmakers Tuesday on 2021 performance, trends and 2022 forecasts. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii State Capitol To Remain Closed, For Now. House and Senate leaders are worried about rising Covid-19 case counts. Civil Beat. Maui Now.

State parks requests $9M budget increase for more staff, maintenance. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks is asking for a budget increase. During the current fiscal year, the State Parks division received about $3 million through special funds. They are requesting $12 million for fiscal year 2023. Hawaii Public Radio.

House Finance Committee Members Grill Tourism Officials On Budget Request. The Hawaii Tourism Authority is asking for $150.5 million for operations and to repair the Hawaii Convention Center roof. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio. Tribune-Herald.

State Searching For Ways To Avoid Unemployment Tax Spike For Employers
. The Ige administration will introduce a measure to once again adjust how much employers must pay into the unemployment system. Civil Beat.

Group of Hawaii lawmakers formed to help working families. A diverse group of Hawaii lawmakers has formed a new coalition to elevate legislative efforts aimed at improving economic conditions for much of the local working class, including households with children. Star-Advertiser.

Ige Names Aimee Barnes To State Land Board. If approved by the state Senate, she would succeed Samuel Gon III. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Is Beefing Up Its Potential To Produce More Meat Locally. A billionaire’s investment in the state’s biggest slaughterhouses and a shift to more grass-fed operations could help ranchers keep their cattle in the islands after years of sending them to the mainland. Civil Beat.

Traffic returns to pre-pandemic numbers statewide. Traffic volumes have returned to pre-pandemic numbers throughout major state routes. The state Department of Transportation has been monitoring traffic volumes during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Hawaii Public Radio.

Affordable federal internet program underway; 100,000 Hawaiʻi households may qualify. The new federal program will continue providing discounts on internet service for low-income families statewide. It is funded through the $65 billion Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act passed by Congress in November 2021.  Maui Now.

Hawaii hospitalization numbers skew people admitted for COVID-19. As Hawaii’s COVID-19 case counts have surged to triple the level seen since the start of the pandemic, state and local leaders have stressed that the focus should be not on case counts but hospitalization numbers when deciding whether to reinstate restrictions on businesses and gatherings, shut down in-person learning or continue indoor masking requirements. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

When experts talk about COVID one day being ‘endemic,’ here’s what they mean. Ray Vera, president and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health, said at a news conference Wednesday that there is optimism that Omicron could be moving the world closer to the end of the pandemic. Hawaii News Now. Maui Now.

Hawaii sees 2,611 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 126,067. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 1,934 new cases on Oahu, 156 on Hawaii Island, 303 on Maui, 111 on Kauai, 33 on Molokai, 18 on Lanai and 56 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Honolulu Caps Capacity of Large Indoor Events To Slow Covid Spread. Honolulu will require that all indoor events with at least 1,000 people attending cap attendees to 50% or less of capacity. The rules will be in place for the last three weeks of January, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said during a press conference with several leaders in Hawaii’s health care industry. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

HART Board Member Resigns, Becomes HART’s New Finance Director. Dean Hazama had served on the local volunteer rail oversight board for just over two years. Civil Beat.

Visits to USS Arizona Memorial to resume after dock repairs made. Visits to the USS Arizona Memorial are set to resume Thursday after a shoreside dock was delivered and reinstalled today at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial visitor center. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Most residents favor tourism: Big Island survey results presented to County Council committee. Most Big Island residents believe tourism is the most important pillar of the island’s economy, according to a 2021 survey. Tribune-Herald.

COVID surge hits Kona Community Hospital: Facility implements contingency and crisis staffing plan amid staffing shortage. In response, Kona Community Hospital on Tuesday activated its contingency and crisis staffing plan, which permits exposed and COVID-positive staffers to continue caring for patients while following DOH and CDC guidelines. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now.

Big Island is experiencing a post-holiday surge of COVID-19, driven largely by Omicron. COVID-19 cases on Hawaiʻi Island took a slight dip Tuesday after four consecutive days of record-breaking numbers and more than 900 cases seen since the New Year. Hawaii Public Radio.

Rezoning request for Hilo housing project advances. A proposed 90-unit affordable housing project in Hilo moved one step closer to reality Wednesday after a County Council committee approved a zoning change. Tribune-Herald.


Department of Planning offices to close for renovations, Jan. 6-7. During the two days of office renovations, applications and other documents can be dropped off at the Department’s Current Planning Division Office in Suite 619 at One Main Plaza on Main Street in Wailuku. Maui Now.

ʻUaʻu populations on Lānaʻi are on the rebound, conservationists say. Lānaʻi is home to one-third of the world’s population of ʻuaʻu. But high rates of predation by feral cats and rats have put petrel colonies on Lānaʻi in peril. Hawaii Public Radio.


Families reel with Waimea landslide blocking a portion of Menehune Road. Frustration over the lack of activity grew among residents affected by the closure of a portion of Menehune Road near the swinging bridge over the Waimea River Wednesday. Garden Island.

Record-high 175 COVID-19 cases Wednesday on Kaua‘i. Wednesday, the state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office announced 175 new cases of COVID-19, another single-day-high case-count day. Garden Island.

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