Monday, May 2, 2022

Minimum wage hike, income tax rebate, tourism funding, coffee labeling, flavored vape ban on the table as Legislature enters final week, military tracks Russian vessel off Hawaii, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Bill to raise Hawaiʻi's minimum wage to $18 by 2028 passes out of conference committee. The bill that left committee raises the state’s current $10.10 base pay to $18 in January 2028, two years behind what passed out of the House earlier in April. Hawaii Public Radio. Maui Now.

Hawaii lawmakers approve payments of up to $300 for taxpayers, their dependents.
Under a rare rebate program approved by lawmakers Friday, taxpayers earning less than $100,000 annually and their dependents could each receive a $300 payment. Those earning more than $100,000 could get a rebate of $100. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmakers keep tourism agency funding alive. Lawmakers kept the Hawaii Tourism Authority alive by amending House Bill 1147, originally a capital improvements bill, just after Friday’s deadline for fiscal bills. Star-Advertiser.

Coffee labeling study ‘still a win’. Funding for an independent study of the economic impact of potential changes to Hawaii’s coffee labeling requirements is set for a vote by the state House and Senate. West Hawaii Today.

Flavored Vape Ban Looms in Hawaii. A bill that would ban flavored vape products aims to protect children, but those in the industry say it would kill their business. KITV4.

In wake of 6-year-old’s horrific death, lawmakers approve bill aimed at bolstering child welfare system.
State lawmakers have approved a measure aimed at significantly strengthening Hawaii’s child welfare system — including by expanding investigative powers — following the death of 6-year-old Isabella Kalua, whose foster parents have been charged with her murder. Hawaii News Now.

Military tracks Russian vessel near Hawaii. The United States military is tracking a Russian vessel near Hawaii’s waters, according to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. KHON2.

Waters, Tokuda File FEC Paperwork For US House Race.
While Kai Kahele has not officially announced that he is leaving Congress to run for governor, efforts to replace him in Washington, D.C., are building. Civil Beat.

Former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell sees neighbor island path to governorship. Former Mayor Kirk Caldwell calls himself “the underdog” in the three-way race for governor in the August Democratic primary but sees a path to victory through the neighbor islands, despite his unpopularity after serving two terms and eight years at Honolulu Hale. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Education Board Narrows Down Finalists For Superintendent Position. The search for a new public school chief in Hawaii is one step closer. The state Board of Education unveiled on its website Friday the three finalists for the superintendent position at the Department of Education. Civil Beat.

Local students face strict COVID rules for year-end events. Hawaiʻi public schools are enforcing pandemic restrictions that go beyond recommendations from state and federal health officials. Hawaii Public Radio.

State to pay $6.7 million in personal injury claims. The deaths of three people and injuries sustained by others in eight separate incidents are expected to cost the state $6.7 million this year. Star-Advertiser.

This Mental Health Team Hopes To Help Hawaii’s Farmers Help Themselves. Professor Thao Le discusses the experiences of researchers at the University of Hawaii who have been canvassing the ranching and farming community to find the state of its mental health. Civil Beat.


North Shore beachfront homes threatened by erosion continue to sell. Beginning today those selling coastal properties will also have to disclose the risks of sea level rise under a new mandatory disclosure law passed by the Legislature.  Star-Advertiser.

How Honolulu’s Push For More Housing Sparks Opposition From Rival Interests. Housing is an abstract goal, but the concrete reality usually sparks opposition from advocates for farmland or the environment or those simply worried about urban woes. Civil Beat.

Despite indictment in federal probe, BWS board member declines to step down. More than four months after being arrested and charged in connection with the ongoing Kealoha corruption probe, Max Sword hasn’t stepped down from the Board of Water Supply’s board of directors ― and has no plans to do so. Hawaii News Now.

Waikiki community on alert after violent attacks. Waikiki is on edge after three violent attacks in three weeks, the most recent befalling a visitor in the heart of the state’s top tourism district. Star-Advertiser.

Lack of progress in Waikiki crime cases highlights challenges. Community frustration is mounting over law enforcement’s handling of two recent high-profile Waikiki violent crimes, which highlight the system’s challenges in holding criminals accountable. Star-Advertiser.

Daily Ridership Would Drop By Thousands If The Honolulu Rail Line Ends At Civic Center
. An average of 119,600 people were originally expected to board the trains each weekday, but that will drop to 84,000 daily riders with the shorter route. Civil Beat.

Ala Moana Boulevard pedestrian bridge construction to begin. A $17.8 million project to build a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Ala Moana Boulevard in Kakaako is scheduled to begin today. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi still considering restoring access to first responder radio.
More than two months after the city removed first responder radio traffic from public radio waves, the city administration is still deciding whether to restore access to communications that Honolulu police officials argue must be concealed to help preserve public security and safety. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Gas taxes go unspent: Council to reappropriate excess funds. Hawaii County’s fuel tax revenues have been coming in higher than expected, and in some cases, faster than the county can spend them. Even as the County Council is set to vote Wednesday on Resolution 363 giving drivers a break by knocking 10 cents a gallon off the current rate, a council committee Tuesday will vote on a bill to reappropriate $2.5 million left unspent between 2016 and 2020. West Hawaii Today.

A new shooting range for Big Island? Bill would establish group to research locations, designs. A long-awaited public shooting facility could be coming to Hawaii County. Tribune-Herald.

Battle over renaming Hilo High Gym continues. A concurrent resolution in the state Legislature “urging” the School Community Council to rename the gym after coaches Albert and Lawrence Manliguis was deferred last week by the Senate Committee on Education. Tribune-Herald.

2,400 acres in Kohala gifted to Hawaii Community Foundation as part of stewardship center. Micah Kane, CEO and President of the Hawaii Community Foundation, said the focus of the research center in Kohala is to develop sustainability solutions for energy, water, and food. Hawaii News Now.


Nearly $1.07B county budget proposal advances. Budget committee chairperson says funds needed for pandemic-deferred county projects.  Hoping to tackle projects delayed by the pandemic, a Maui County Council committee is proposing a nearly $1.07 billion county budget for fiscal year 2023, just slightly higher than the almost $1.05 billion “record-setting” budget proposed by Mayor Michael Victorino in March. Maui News.

$41M homestead project envisions centers for culture, food, education. A $41 million project that would build space for education, community events, business and culture is being proposed under the Keokea Homestead Farm Lots Association’s master plan. Maui News.

Costs estimated at $500K to renovate vacant Molokai home into fire station. A $300,000 three-bedroom home purchased by Maui County in Ualapue will serve as the new fire station on Molokai’s East End. Maui News.

UH campuses host graduation ceremonies; UH Maui College slated for May 14. An in-person ceremony will be held on campus, with no spectator limit. Multiple satellite photo booths and lei stations will be made available throughout the parking lot. There will also be a livestream of the ceremony. Maui Now.


Kalalau camping permits available for residents. Beginning Tuesday, May 3, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks will issue a limited number of overnight permits for camping in Kalalau Valley in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, for Kaua‘i residents only. Garden Island.

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