Monday, February 14, 2022

Blinken outlines Hawaii's strategic importance, corruption a big issue in state Legislature, affordable housing plan not so affordable, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press availability with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi following their meeting in Honolulu, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. PC:Kevin Lamarque/Pool Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Hawaii. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Japanese and South Korean counterparts Saturday in Hawaii to discuss the threat posed by nuclear-armed North Korea after Pyongyang began the year with a series of missile tests. Associated Press. Civil Beat.

Why Russia has its eye on Hawaii. While American policymakers have been vocal about wanting to keep an eye on China’s growing presence in the Pacific, over the last year it’s been Russia’s military operating most overtly near Hawaii — the nerve center for American military operations in the region. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Senate Wants To Beef Up Corruption Fighting Unit. Lawmakers are also considering reopening the State Capitol. Hawaii lawmakers want to create two new divisions in the state Attorney General’s Office that would be responsible for investigating fraud and political corruption as well as sex trafficking. Civil Beat.

Legislation would help victims exit sex trade with $2,000 per month. Victims of sex trafficking in Hawaii would receive $2,000 a month to leave the life in what proponents call the first pilot project of its kind through a bill in the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Gambling measure moves forward: HB 1962 would fund revenue, health study on possible DHHL casino. A bill that would require the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to study potential revenue generation as well as public health and safety concerns arising from “limited casino gaming” on DHHL lands is moving through the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmaker introduces bill to legalize online sports gambling in Hawaii.
Sports gambling is sweeping the nation. It’s now legal in some form in 31 states and the District of Columbia after becoming federally legal in 2018. Hawaii and Utah now remain the only two states that outlaw all gambling. KHON2.

‘The fireworks problem is a multifaceted problem’: State measures include increased fines, permit costs. Five of seven fireworks bills introduced by the state House of Representatives this session cleared their initial committee hurdle, with amendments, while two were shelved. Tribune-Herald.

Should Hawaii Counties Be Allowed To Require Fire Sprinklers In New Homes? It’s illegal for counties to require fire sprinklers in single-family homes and duplexes in Hawaii. A new draft law would change that. Civil Beat.

Electric, zero-emission vehicle bills in Legislature. Several bills have been introduced in the state Legislature this year to stimulate the adoption of electric and zero-emission vehicles and the development of electric and zero-emission vehicle infrastructure. Tribune-Herald.

Widespread corruption begins with small, illegal behavior.
Unethical and criminal behavior from people in positions of trust in most cases begins simply enough. Star-Advertiser.

New stain at Hawaii Legislature could be its worst.
If Hawaii’s state Capitol had a hall of shame for legislators, J. Kalani English and Ty J.K. Cullen could be its headliners with the biggest fallen stars. Star-Advertiser.

Legislative committee pursuing investigation against state Rep. Sharon Har. A special House committee has decided to continue investigating whether state representative Sharon Har should face legislative sanctions for her drunken driving arrest nearly a year ago. KITV4.

Hawaii residents share their struggles with long COVID-19. The Queen’s Medical Center and the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine are collaborating on a study to determine why some people in Hawaii develop chronic symptoms, part of a national initiative funded by Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery, or RECOVER. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii records 4 new coronavirus-related deaths, 532 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count includes 287 new cases on Oahu, 64 on Hawaii Island, 82 on Maui, 62 on Kauai, three on Molokai, six on Lanai and 28 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Proposal for Hawaii to build and sell leasehold condos judged unfeasible.
A big, unconventional idea to end Oahu’s affordable-housing shortage at no long-term public expense has been diminished at the Legislature after three years of effort. Star-Advertiser.

Red Hill’s Firefighting System Was Damaged Long Before Contamination Crisis. The system would deploy water automatically in case of a fire at the Navy’s fuel facility, but firefighting foam would have to be turned on manually, a spokeswoman said. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Roth considering charging tourists to visit beach parks, zoo. Charging tourists to visit county beach parks and the zoo is being considered as a potential way to help pay for facilities, Mayor Mitch Roth said. West Hawaii Today.

Isle transition to electric vehicles slow. The Big Island has a long way to go before all its vehicles are fully electric. Tribune-Herald.

Acting HR Director Leopoldino named to permanent post
. Acting Human Resources Director Waylen Leopoldino was awarded the permanent position on Friday, eight months after he assumed the acting role when the former director retired. West Hawaii Today.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park plans restoration of summit facilities. Nearly four years after earthquakes from the 2018 Kilauea eruption crippled buildings and roads at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the National Park Serv­ice is proposing a multimillion-dollar plan to rebuild the park’s summit region. Star-Advertiser.


Commission mulls pay hike for police chief.
Maui County Salary Commission members questioned whether any salary increases for county department heads, including the police chief, would take away money from other programs, as the commission continues reviewing salaries for county directors and deputies. Maui News.

MEO to start drug, suicide, bullying prevention with youth on Molokaʻi
. Kāohi mirrors MEO Youth Services’ evidence-based prevention curriculum on Maui, and is expected to get underway soon when a program coordinator is on board. Maui Now.


CC&R bill continues through Kaua‘i County Council. County lawmakers are pushing legislation that would prevent new housing developments from locking out lower-income families through strict covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), which often exceed the county’s own zoning ordinances. Garden Island.

Kauaʻi taro farmers spearhead a measure to streamline the water lease process for loʻi kalo. Hawaiʻi lawmakers are considering streamlining the process for taro farmers looking to secure freshwater for their crops — a complex and time-consuming task that often requires a lawyer. Hawaii Public Radio.

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