Friday, May 27, 2022

Shenanigans behind the scenes at state Legislature, Ige signs taro farmers' water rights into law, Elemental Excelerator gets $32.5M Navy grant, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

How A Powerful Lawmaker Forced Through A Contentious Energy Bill. When Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz’s pet legislation faced opposition from Rep. Nicole Lowen, he suddenly intervened with the power to make or break her bills. Civil Beat.

U.S. visitors to Hawaii in April top 2019 levels for 12th consecutive month. Some 818,268 visitors came to Hawaii in April, representing a 96.3% recovery from April 2019, according to preliminary visitor data released Thursday by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Star-Advertiser.

Hundreds of Hawaii’s frontline workers out sick as COVID surge continues. A COVID surge and a rising number of flu cases are driving up sick calls among Hawaii’s frontline workers, leaving hospitals struggling to meet patient needs, health care officials said. Across the state on Thursday, some 600 frontline workers were out sick. Hawaii News Now.

South African COVID-19 variants found in Hawaii. The omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, currently the dominant lineages of the coronavirus circulating in South Africa, have recently been detected in Hawaii, according to the state Department of Health. Star-Advertiser.

Fewer severe cases during this COVID-19 surge compared to delta, omicron. Healthcare Association of Hawaii President Hilton Raethel said there were 151 COVID patients hospitalized Wednesday across the state, but only 13 of them were in intensive care. As of Thursday, 160 people were hospitalized. Hawaii Public Radio.


High-balance special funds stow millions meant for good causes. Hundreds of millions of your tax dollars are sitting in special funds intended for everything from affordable housing to clean water, parks and roads. KHON2.

Elemental Excelerator Gets $32.5 Million Navy Grant. Elemental Excelerator, a Honolulu-based organization that funds innovative enterprises addressing climate change, has received a $32.5 million grant from the Office of Naval Research. Civil Beat.

Survey details ills from Navy’s fuel-tainted water. Approximately 2,000 people reported that they had experienced health effects ranging from skin rashes to vomiting following exposure to jet fuel in the Navy’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam drinking water system in November, according to results of a survey released Thursday by the state Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Star-Advertiser.

Incoming police chief’s son allegedly terrorized Waikiki homeowner. The incoming police chief’s son and the ex-girlfriend he was arrested with Tuesday allegedly brought violence and property damage to the Waikiki home of a 70-year-old retiree and his wife, who rented a room to the woman for six years. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now.

Waikiki town hall meeting to discuss concerns about public safety, homelessness
. City Council Chair Tommy Waters is hosting the town hall with area legislators and city agencies including EMS and the prosecutor’s office. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Tour company ordered to pay nearly $35K in back wages after denying workers overtime. The Department of Labor said Ocean Journeys LLC — operating as And You Creations — denied 14 crew members overtime wages on its Waianae tour boat. Hawaii News Now.

Job openings are plentiful at Oahu summer programs for children. Despite competitive wages and a promise of “awesome, fun-filled opportunities,” the pandemic-era labor shortage has extended to two of Oahu’s largest summer programs for kids. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

County, Roth seek dismissal of Waipi‘o lawsuit. The Corporation Counsel has filed a motion seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed last month against the county, Mayor Mitch Roth and Public Works Director Ikaika Rodenhurst over the closure of Waipi‘o Valley Road to all but a handful of people. Tribune-Herald.

Proposed 2022-23 CIP budget includes $64M for two West Hawaii roads
. Mayor Mitch Roth’s CIP budget for fiscal year 2022-23 as currently amended would allocate for repaving and rehabilitation some $42 million for Waikoloa Road in South Kohala and $22 million for Hina Lani Street in Kailua-Kona. Bill 126, draft 2, is set for its second reading on Thursday during a special meeting of the Hawaii County Council. West Hawaii Today.

Lava buyout program seeks to limit payouts
: Maximum for undeveloped properties would be set at $22K. Despite concerns from residents, the county’s proposed changes to its housing buyout program in Lower Puna have been submitted to the federal government. Tribune-Herald.

Two lawyers appointed to District Family Court bench. Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald on Wednesday appointed two individuals to fill judicial positions in the District Family Court of the Third Circuit on Hawaii Island. Tribune-Herald.

Kahaluʻu Bay is Hawaiʻi's second Mission Blue 'Hope Spot,' critical to ocean health. The Hawaiʻi Island bay and its surrounding waters are home to several endangered and threatened species, such as Hawaiian monk seals, humpback whales, and turtles. Hawaii Public Radio.


Maui council may adjust metrics to make affordable housing actually affordable. With soaring housing prices in Maui County, council members are looking at ways to update the county’s sales price guidelines so affordable housing can actually be affordable. Maui Now.

Bill would extend exemption for farmers during drought. Department of Water Supply is concerned this would take resources from other essential needs. Maui News.

Maui County visitor arrivals last month exceed pre-pandemic highs. There were 254,398 visitors to Maui last month — a nearly 3% increase from April 2019, when visitors numbered 247,984, according to preliminary visitor statistics released by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released Thursday. Maui Now.


North Shore hui celebrates end of four-year journey with new law. Members of the Wai‘oli Valley Taro Hui watched as Gov. David Ige signed House Bill 1768 into law Wednesday, at Waipa outside Hanalei. The bill, now Act 27, recognizes and protects their rights to water for traditional taro cultivation. Garden Island.

CDC moves Kauai County back to yellow, medium-risk level for COVID-19 impacts. Two weeks ago, Kauai County had been bumped up to a red, high-risk community based on a set of metrics that measures hospitalization rates and cases per 100,000 people. Star-Advertiser. Garden Island.

Expansion Plan For Lihue Airport Is Riling Residents Already Tired Of Over-Tourism. The governor said it’s unfortunate that the consultants hired by the state Department of Transportation may be “tone deaf” to the community’s concerns. Civil Beat.

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