Monday, April 18, 2022

Prices rise, workers quit, food stamps increase in Hawaii economy, COVID-19 wastewater monitoring to start this summer, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Why Businesses Are Passing Their Rising Costs On To Consumers. The price of groceries rose almost 12% in March compared with the same month a year ago, while gasoline prices increased almost 40%. Civil Beat.

A Record Number of Hawai‘i Workers Quit Their Jobs in 2021. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest data shows that 222,000 local employees had voluntarily resigned. In September alone, about 38,000 people quit – 6.6% of the local workforce and the highest rate for that month in the nation. Hawaii Business Magazine.

Amid growing need, extra food stamp benefits extended to end of May
. According to the Department of Human Services, nearly 200,000 people in Hawaii rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. State officials say it is a 36% increase from prior to the pandemic. Hawaii News Now.

Bill would expedite farmland transfers. While two state agencies continue to vie over management of about 100,000 acres of state land set aside for agriculture, lawmakers are pushing a bill to expedite the transfer of those lands to support local farming and ranching. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers still practicing gut-and-replace surgery on bills
. The Hawaii Supreme Court laid down a precedent-setting November ruling that invalidated a 2018 law stemming from a gut-and-replace maneuver, designating certain aspects of the practice as unconstitutional. Yet at least two examples of bills that could easily be considered an affront to the court’s decision popped up recently at the Legislature. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Tourism Authority is operating on an extremely tight deadline to award its largest contract to supply destination management services and promote Hawaii to the U.S. market, the state’s most important visitor source market. Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has always had HTA’s top contract and is expected to bid for the next one. Star-Advertiser.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs might get more of what it’s owed from the state of Hawaii.
A bill that the House of Representatives approved unanimously Tuesday would raise an annual sum the state pays OHA to $21.5 million, up from $15.1 million, as another interim effort to satisfy a state obligation rooted in Hawaii’s Constitution. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii public schools could soon offer free menstrual products. State legislators are close to passing Senate Bill 2821, which would appropriate about $1 million to the Department of Education to provide menstrual pads and tampons because many students can’t afford them. Hawaii News Now.

Bills target abandoned cars: ‘Big penalty’ sought for those who leave the vehicles. House Bills 1411 through 1414 propose harsher penalties for owners of derelict vehicles that could generate millions of dollars for the state per year. Tribune-Herald.

Monitoring for COVID-19 in Hawaii wastewater expected to start this summer. A growing number of studies show the value of wastewater monitoring not only as an early detection system for trends in coronavirus cases in a community, but for the presence of variants such as BA.2. and other potential mutations on the horizon. Star-Advertiser.

COVID cases likely three times more than reported. During a livestream on Friday, infectious disease expert and Senior Fellow in the Research Program at East-West Center on Oahu Dr. Tim Brown speculated cases could be underreported “by about a factor of three.” Tribune-Herald.

Oahu

Ikaika Anderson’s Honolulu City Council resignation raises questions in lieutenant governor race. Ikaika Anderson is prepared to explain to voters why he resigned his Windward City Council seat in 2020 saying he wanted to focus on caring for his Waimanalo grandparents who raised him, but ended up working for a mason’s union job that he left after nine months. Star-Advertiser.

Public weighs in on Ala Wai flood-control proposals. Under consideration is dredging the canal, adding raised walls along its banks and adding earthen/silt berms to divert floodwaters into Ala Wai Park, the golf course and neighboring school grounds, partially restoring the area’s former wetlands and kalo paddies. Star-Advertiser.

Coming back from a crime at nonprofit ʻŌlelo Community Media. Roger McKeaugue joined ʻŌlelo Community Media in April 2021 as head of the nonprofit at a delicate time. In the previous month, a former vice president had pleaded guilty to federal charges of embezzling money from the organization, including CARES Act funding. Hanalei Apioalani was sentenced to 46 months in prison. Hawaii Public Radio.

Developer of Hawaii Ocean Plaza gives update on project. The city of Honolulu has cited a development project for not taking care of its build site along Kapiolani Boulevard. The complaint involves the homeless visiting a two story building on the property, overgrown weeds and a broken fence. This comes as the developer missed key deadlines for permits. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Bugs still being worked out of EPIC: Some building permits still stuck in the system. Hawaii County continues to work the bugs out of its online building permit system, but some testifiers to the county Cost of Government Commission aren’t convinced it’s happening fast enough. West Hawaii Today.

Council to view presentation on ‘dark sky’ initiatives. Hawaii County could save money and attract tourists by reducing light pollution, according to a presentation by a Big Island activist to be heard this week by the County Council. Tribune-Herald.

Ige releases $1.5M for Puako sewer plans. A long-anticipated project to improve water quality and protect the coral reef by replacing cesspools at Puako with a sewer system is finally moving forward with the announcement Friday that Gov. David Ige has released $1.5 million to get the design work started. West Hawaii Today.

Honokaa cockfight draws hundreds: Alleged organizer arrested; 21 chickens killed. According to a Tribune-Herald search of previous stories and media releases by the Hawaii Police Department, the last time a cockfighting arrest ended up with criminal charges on the Big Island was on March 30, 2019, also in Honokaa. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Months after social host law took effect, no citations issued. Questions surround enforcement of law, which police chief calls ‘unconstitutional’. No citations have been issued under a county law holding adult hosts accountable for underage drinking at house parties on Maui, more than six months since the measure was implemented. Maui News.

Kama plans two changes to county’s Taser rules, slated to be heard Friday. Council Member Tasha Kama in a news release said that the planned changes include consolidating the county’s administrative responsibilities for electric gun dealer licensing and clarifying the business insurance requirements for electric gun sellers. Maui Now.

Cleaning This Polluted Maui Harbor Requires Money, Land And Oysters. The County Council will vote on whether to approve $9.5 million for a state-of-the art wastewater treatment plant in Maalaea. Civil Beat. Maui News.

Maui airport sees faster processing, fewer disorderlies in wake of Safe Travels. The leader of Maui district airports said Kahului Airport processing times and disorderly traveler incidents have subsided since Hawaiʻi’s Safe Travels program was lifted three weeks ago.  Maui Now.

Kauai

Kaua‘i legislators return donations tied to bribery figure
. Following a February bribery scandal, some Kaua‘i lawmakers have made moves to distance themselves from money tied to the central figure in the case. Garden Island.

Owner reunited with stolen canoe on Kauai after weeks-long search. A canoe stolen on Kauai in early April has been found and returned to its rightful owner. Hawaii News Now.


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