Monday, March 7, 2022

Food safety audits to resume, candidate qualifying begins for some, Honolulu business district may never be the same, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Safe food handling at Hilo Farmers Market ©2022 All Hawaii News

Food Safety Audits Could Hamper Hawaii’s Efforts Toward More Food Production. As the pandemic eases, the Food and Drug Administration is resuming its audits of farms nationwide. Hawaii is unprepared, experts say. Civil Beat.

More Hawaii visitors expected as state’s Safe Travels program comes to a close. The ending of Hawaii’s Safe Travels program for dom­estic travelers later this month is expected to create more opportunities for Hawaii to recover visitor arrivals, which at year’s end were still down nearly 35% from pre-pandemic 2019. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. forces in Hawaii watch China as world keeps eye on Ukraine. Thousands of American troops have deployed to NATO countries in Eastern Europe as the Russian military marches on Ukraine. But U.S. troops in Hawaii and the Pacific are continuing their missions in the region and aren’t expected to join the fray. Star-Advertiser.

$100 rebates to Hawaii taxpayers imperiled at Legislature. Two bills in the Legislature that would authorize delivery of Ige’s envisioned $100 rebates or credits to every local taxpayer and each of their dependents haven’t gone anywhere, and prospects of enactment appear dim if not dead. Star-Advertiser.

Why It Costs So Much To Own A Car In Hawaii
. High gas prices and registration fees make it expensive to own a car in Hawaii and that makes it even harder to afford to live here. Civil Beat.

Many Say a Rule Change Would Persuade More People to Volunteer. Members of key state boards must disclose their finances to the public. If a new law is passed, they would still need to disclose the sources of income and debts and what they own, but not the amounts and values.  Hawaii Business magazine.

Survey shows strong support for a state system of child care, early education, family support. A survey commissioned by a Hawaii nonprofit initiative suggests that an unusually strong three-fourths of voters here back the creation of a state system of community-based child care, early learning and family-support programs — and a majority are willing to pay more taxes for it. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Department of Health official retires after career marked by public health crises. Although her name and face are not widely known to the general public, reporters covering everything from dengue fever to President Barack Obama’s birth certificate had Janice Okubo on speed dial as the point person for the state Department of Health. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency to stop updating COVID dashboard on weekends, holidays. The HI-EMA dashboard — officially referred to as the COVID-19 Information Hub — includes testing and positivity rates, daily case counts and seven-day averages, and total deaths from COVID. Hawaii Public Radio. Maui News.

Hawaii reports 196 new COVID-19 cases, 1 additional death. Oahu: 124. Hawaii Island: 17. Maui: 21. Kauai: 13 Molokai: 0 Lanai: 2. There were 19 new cases reported from Hawaii residents who were diagnosed out-of-state.  Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

Many stick with working from home, even as COVID cases, restrictions wane.
The busy Honolulu business district has been less bustling since the COVID pandemic began — and it may remain that way, even when the pandemic ends. Hawaii News Now.

While Safe Access Oahu ends, some businesses plan to keep rules in place.
After nearly six months, Safe Access Oahu has come to an end. This means restaurants, bars, gyms, theatres, and arcades no longer are required to ask for a COVID vaccination card or a negative test taken within 48 hours. Hawaii News Now.

6 city ambulances out of service awaiting repairs, putting stress on emergency fleet. The ambulances represent about a third of the city’s ambulance fleet. Hawaii News Now.

Only in Hawai‘i: You Own the Home But Not the Land. About 1 in 8 condos for sale on O‘ahu are leasehold. Many, including some prestigious properties, are declining in value as the end of their land leases near. Hawaii Business magazine.

Hawaii Island


County borrowing could hit debt ceiling: Council to consider $139.5M bond authorization. Mayor Mitch Roth is asking the County Council to approve a $139.5 million bond authorization that will take the county smack up against the recommended debt ceiling for sound financial management. West Hawaii Today.

They’re off! Candidates begin lining up for local races
. Big Island politics becomes a game of musical chairs during election years, and, with the first week of candidate qualifying begun in a process that is not yet open to state legislative and U.S. House seats, 2022 is turning out to be no exception. West Hawaii Today.

Bill toughens penalties for owners of aggressive dogs. Owners of aggressive dogs could face tougher penalties under a bill that will be discussed this week by a County Council committee. Tribune-Herald.

Council meetings to remain closed to public this month. The Hawaii County Council plans to continue keeping council chambers closed to the public until at least April, despite Mayor Mitch Roth lifting all crowd restrictions for the county, and state legislative leaders announcing the state Capitol will be open to the public starting Monday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii lawmakers stir debate over controversial wood-fueled energy project.
An effort to burn a regenerative supply of trees to produce electricity on Hawaii Island has fueled a pitched five-year battle at the state Public Utilities Commission, in court and, more recently, on a third, relatively indirect front. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

Maui County Council races may prove a crowded field. Some old and new faces have emerged early in the election season, signaling they would like to take a seat on the Maui County Council. Maui News.

Public comment sought on budget priorities for new Maui Department of Agriculture. A virtual community meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, 2022, to gather public input on the new Department of Agriculture’s fiscal year 2023 budget. Maui Now.

More Maui homes bought by offshore buyers last year than in recent times. Mainland and international residents purchased 1,124 homes in Maui County last year, compared with 689 units in 2020 and 760 units in 2019, a recent fourth quarter report from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism showed. Maui Now.

Haiku residents sue zip line after years of complaints. Operator calls it ‘a surprise,’ saying it has been working on a course remodel. Maui News.

Kauai

Plans Stalled For Kauai’s Vacant Residential Drug Facility.
The county initiated a title transfer eight months ago but until it goes through a new effort to open Kauai’s underutilized drug treatment facility remains on hold. Civil Beat.

Overcrowding at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Facility continues to make distancing “impossible”. The Kaua‘i Community Correction Center currently houses 137 inmates — 107% of its operational capacity of 128. Garden Island.

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