Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Former Senate majority leader, House Finance Committee vice chairman accused of taking bribes, Ige won't mandate booster for Safe Travels, delegation goes to Germany to retrieve ancestral remains, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Former state Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and state Rep. Ty J.K. Cullen, vice chairman of the House Committee on Finance. PC: Official legislative portraits

J. Kalani English and state Rep. Ty J.K. Cullen are accused of taking thousands of dollars in bribes to benefit an industrial services company. The state Legislature was shaken Tuesday by U.S. Department of Justice charges accusing a former state Senate majority leader and the vice chairman of the House Committee on Finance with taking thousands of dollars in bribes to promote and kill legislation related to cesspool and wastewater policy to benefit a Hawaii industrial services company and its affiliated businesses. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio. Associated Press. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Hawaii GOP says indictments show ‘system is rigged’. The federal indictments of two lawmakers who held powerful posts in the state House and Senate drew immediate condemnation from the Hawaii Republican Party and silence, for the most part, from leading Democrats on Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

A bribery scandal rocks the state Capitol and spurs new questions about legislative transparency. Political onlookers expressed shock Tuesday as federal prosecutors accused two former state lawmakers of taking money to influence legislation. The bribery scandal is also spurring calls for more transparency and public involvement at the state Capitol. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Bribery stymies efforts to fix Hawaii’s massive cesspool problem. Those affected by the alleged bribery schemes described in federal charges against Kalani English and Ty Cullen include people working in good faith to solve one of Hawaii’s most pressing environmental threats: cesspools and their 53 million gallons-a-day of untreated sewage. KHON2.

Governor to appoint representative to fill House District 39 seat following bribe allegations. Work begins to fill the seat that once belonged for former House Representative Ty Cullen. This comes as the legislative session is underway, causing concern for some residents. KHON2.

Hawaii governor, citing drop in COVID-19 cases, will not mandate booster for travelers. Following weeks of anticipation, Gov. David Ige on Tuesday announced that the Safe Travels Hawaii program will not require booster shots for travelers to bypass the state’s mandatory quarantine. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Maui Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii voters split on limiting tourism, support fees for visitors. Hawaii voters are divided over whether they want to cap tourism arrivals, but overwhelmingly want to charge visitor fees at certain state parks, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii Poll. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii residents strongly back minimum wage increase, poll finds. Hawaii voters overwhelmingly want to see the state’s minimum wage increased, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii Poll, whose results could influence whether local lawmakers make such a change this year. Star-Advertiser.

Supporting surfing: Bill proposes funding for DOE to make surfing a statewide interscholastic sport. Lawmakers are considering a measure to provide the Department of Education with a wave of funding to make surfing a prep sport across the state. West Hawaii Today. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Inmate Deaths Are The Highest In 10 Years. But The State Can’t Say Why. Corrections officials still aren’t providing a cause of death for 20 of the 23 prisoners who died in Hawaii prisons and jails last year. Civil Beat.

OHA delegation travels to Germany to bring ancestral remains back to Hawaii. The body overseeing Berlin’s museums this week began the process of handing over over Hawaiian ancestral remains collected by a German naturalist in the 19th century to authorities in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Big Island Video News. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Hawaii sees 533 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 227,817. The new confirmed and probable infection count includes 357 new cases on Oahu, 72 on Hawaii Island, 52 on Maui, 38 on Kauai two on Lanai and 12 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Bills To Shut Down Red Hill Fuel Facility Move Forward At Hawaii Legislature. As the federal government fights the state’s shutdown order in court, city and state lawmakers are making moves to close the facility through legislation. Civil Beat.

Chronic water pollution found in Honolulu, Kāneʻohe, and Haleʻiwa. The Surfrider Foundation’s Blue Water Task Force found high concentrations of bacteria in fresh water sources and beaches around Honolulu, Kāneʻohe, and Haleʻiwa. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

County officials provide council panel update on testing contract. Hawaii County officials said Tuesday they are satisfied with the performance of TrueCare24 Inc., the company contracted for county-sponsored COVID testing, despite reports of lost tests and late results. West Hawaii Today.

Roth, Magno explain response to tsunami threat. Hawaii County Civil Defense and Mayor Mitch Roth on Tuesday defended the county’s response last month to a tsunami threat triggered by the eruption of a volcano in Tonga. Tribune-Herald.

County Rolls Out New COVID Testing Program for Businesses. Hawaiʻi County is now offering a new COVID testing program for businesses to help prevent workplace spread of the illness. Big Island Now.

Maui

Rep. Kai Kahele visits Maui, giving ‘serious thought’ to run for governor. Democratic US Represenative Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02) continues making his rounds on Maui today as he updates various government and community organizations on issues pending before Congress. Maui Now.

Maui saw nearly 2.3 million visitors in 2021. Arrivals still lag behind pre-pandemic levels of 3 million in 2019. Maui saw nearly 2.3 million visitors last year who spent a total of $4 billion, closer to pre-pandemic numbers but still lagging behind 2019, according to a recent report of preliminary visitor statistics by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Maui News.

Kauai

County of Kaua‘i ‘troubled’ by lessee’s pollution on Waimea 400 land. The County of Kaua‘i was unaware that a lessee on its Waimea 400 land was polluting state waters. Garden Island.

First Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death reported on Kauaiʻi’s Alakaʻi Plateau; beetle repellant may help. The first case of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death in the Alakaʻi Plateau forest on Kauaʻi was found in a dead tree during a helicopter survey by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Maui Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

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