Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Legislative leaders plead guilty to taking bribes, campaign donations in the spotlight, minimum wage bill advances, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

J. Kalani English and Ty J.K. Cullen

Ex-lawmakers J. Kalani English and Ty J.K. Cullen admit taking cash bribes and could face up to 20 years in federal prison. They were bribed by Milton J. Choy, owner of H20 Process Systems and Fluid Technologies. Choy, who is cooperating with the federal investigation, gave legal donations totaling $160,150 to more than 50 state and county lawmakers since 2014. His companies have received nearly $6 million in government contracts. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio. Associated Press. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Corruption At The Hawaii Legislature Puts Campaign Donations In The Spotlight. Amid a new push for change, critics say the process surrounding legal campaign contributions urgently needs to be reformed. Civil Beat.

Bills limiting Hawaii governor’s emergency powers advancing. Bills limiting Hawaii governor’s emergency powers advancing Star-Advertiser.

Minimum wage bill advances despite criticisms. A desire by state House leadership this year to raise Hawaii’s minimum wage took its first step forward as a bill was advanced Tuesday by a committee at the Legislature. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmakers Seek Ban On Vehicles That Make Too Much Noise.
Senate Bill 2127 and House Bill 1545 would establish a decibel limit to define vehicular noise pollution, and make owning or operating a vehicle that exceeds the established limit illegal.  Civil Beat.

Bill would make it easier for seniors 65-plus to get marijuana.
Recreational use of marijuana is no closer to being fully legalized this year in Hawaii, but some seniors in the Aloha State may be able to use medical cannabis freely under a new bill. Tribune-Herald.

Bill to provide $2M to food banks passes first committee.
A bill to provide millions in funding to Hawaii’s four food banks is making its way through the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

By 2050, sea level in Hawaii could rise by as much as 1 foot.
The U.S. will get slightly more sea level rise than the global average. And the greatest rise in the U.S. will be on the Gulf and East coasts, while the West Coast and Hawaii will be hit less than average. Associated Press.

Battling long-haul COVID, some turn to magnetic brain treatment for relief. As the wave of Omicron cases declines, experts are worried about long-haul effects from the virus, but there is promising treatment for those searching for relief. Hawaii News Now.

As the Omicron surge subsides, experts ponder what’s next in the pandemic.
While most states, including California, move toward dropping their mask mandates, face coverings are still required in Hawaii. But with cases on the decline, experts say the state is moving into a different point in the pandemic. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii sees 294 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 232,302. The new confirmed and probable infection count includes 193 new cases on Oahu, 49 on Hawaii Island, 40 on Maui, four on Kauai, two on Lanai and six Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Another DPP Employee Pleads Guilty To Taking Bribes. A fourth defendant in the Honolulu permitting department bribery scandal has pleaded guilty to taking money in exchange for providing favorable treatment. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Overhaul of Oahu’s police scanners could lead to delay in reporting of emergencies. Honolulu’s emergency communications system has been upgraded, meaning scanners from all the city’s public safety departments are now shut off to everyone else. Hawaii News Now.

Eligibility for Honolulu Rental and Utility Relief Program expanded.
More Oahu families can now qualify for the City and County of Honolulu’s Rental and Utility Relief Program, city officials announced today, due to broader eligibility requirements. Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Sewage spill into Kaneohe Bay traced to leaking septic tank. The Hawaii Department of Health is warning the public to avoid the waters of Kaneohe Bay near 47-048 Kamehameha Highway due to an ongoing wastewater discharge. Star-Advertiser.
Hawaii Island

Hawaii Island legislators return campaign contributions. Five of Hawaii Island’s 11 state legislators have taken campaign contributions from a Honolulu businessman who’s a cooperating government informant at the heart of a bribery scandal that took down two legislative leaders. West Hawaii Today.

Court rejects bid to delay approval hearing for wood-burning power plant. Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC, developer of the power plant designed to burn fast-growing trees as a locally grown renewable energy source, lost its bid to indefinitely postpone a hearing by the Public Utilities Commission to consider approval of the biofuel project, which is 99% built, after an earlier PUC approval from 2017 was overturned by the state’s highest court. Star-Advertiser.


Red-light enforcement cameras could be coming to Maui. The red-light enforcement camera program that launched recently on O Ľahu could be heading to Maui, but the pilot plan will have to be evaluated first, according to the state Department of Transportation.  Maui Now.

Entangled Mother Humpback With Calf Freed of Gear Off Maui. The adult female, accompanied by her calf and a male escort humpback, had a tight wrap of moderate gauge line wrapped around her head in front of her pectoral flippers. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.


In-person voting opens for OPA race. The special election for county prosecutor is on now, and voters have mail-in and in-person options. Feb. 26 is the deadline to vote. Garden Island.

A socially conscious farm venture moves to Koloa. A family farm is moving to the South Shore, just beyond the shadow of Ha‘upu mountain. Garden Island.

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