Thursday, March 2, 2023

Legislative leaders talk priorities at session midpoint, DHHL director sued by surfer after canoe crash, Native Hawaiians scheduled for sentencing in Maui hate crime, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii’s legislative leaders assess big issues at session midpoint. As the state legislative session nears its midpoint next week, the two leaders of the Hawaii House and Senate offered some assessments Wednesday that included uncertainty over how to provide residents with tax relief and charge tourists fees that benefit the environment. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.

New DHHL Director Aims To Speed Up The Development Of Homestead Lots. But first Kali Watson, an affordable housing developer who is the governor’s second pick for the job, must be confirmed by the Senate. Civil Beat.

Surfer files lawsuit against DHHL director nominee Kali Watson.  A surfer who said he almost died after being hit by a canoe has filed a civil lawsuit against the paddlers. One of them is Kali Watson, who was recently nominated to lead the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. KHON2. Hawaii News Now.

Sen. Rhoads ‘guardedly optimistic’ about Hawai‘i clean elections bill. If passed, Senate Bill 1543 would allocate $30 million to a newly-formed public campaign financing fund, allowing candidates to avoid private funds entirely. Garden Island.

Fight to lower legal limit for drunk driving in Hawaii receives opposition. A push to lower Hawaii’s blood alcohol content limit is moving forward at the legislature. Hawaii News Now.

Body and Digital Cameras Could Be Required at State Correctional Facilities. A bill moving through the State Legislature would authorize funding for body and digital cameras in all correctional facilities. KITV4.

Hawaii midwives stage sit-in, saying their services could be banned without legislative action. In order to remain alive, bills must pass out of final committees this week to the full House or Senate and then cross over to the other side. If not, they die ― and that could happen to a bill meant to allow midwives to continue providing birth support services. Hawaii News Now.

Matson warns first quarter will be weakest of the year. Matson Inc.’s chief executive officer is warning that the current quarter will be the weakest of the year as the company deals with reduced shipping demand. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii hospitals, clinics continue to embrace masks. Although Hawaii has no statewide mandate or federal rules that require masks, most hospitals and health clinics are independently requiring them for their clinical settings where patients are seen. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii COVID-19 positivity rate at 4.4%; 12 more deaths. The Hawaii Department of Health today reported the state’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases fell to 70 compared with 89 on Feb. 15. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

New center will address ‘gap’ in homeless treatment. The Institute for Human Services on Wednesday unveiled a facility for a new approach to treating Oahu’s most troubled homeless people — a 24-hour triage center. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

O Ľahu prison struggles to find staff for nonessential programs, chapel services. Staffing shortages over the years have presented the need to prioritize security over some other nonessential services, including chapel. Hawaii Public Radio.

Civilian Red Hill families plead for relief after being hit with huge tax bills for reimbursements
. Civilian Red Hill families are furious about getting huge tax bills after getting reimbursed by the Navy for staying in hotels for months. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

HECO announces four ‘shared solar’ projects for Big Island. Hawaiian Electric Co. on Tuesday announced the selection of four new Hawaii Island solar farm projects. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Kona coffee farmers cash in on labeling claims. Hawaiian coffee farmers will get an additional $6.15 million to settle their class action accusing a coffee roasting and wholesale company of selling ordinary coffee under the name “Kona,” as part of an agreement approved Feb.21 by a Washington federal judge, Law360 reported Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Volcano observatory eyes new Hilo headquarters.  A $60 million-plus, three-story Hawaiian Volcano Observatory headquarters and research building is being proposed in Hilo to replace its Hawaii Volcanoes National Park facility, which was damaged by the 2018 Kilauea eruption. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

Maui hate crime case spotlights Hawaii’s racial complexity. In a case that reflects Hawaii’s nuanced and complicated relationship with race, two Native Hawaiian men are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for a federal hate crime in the brutal beating of a white man who tried to move into their remote, traditional fishing village. Associated Press.

Maui County’s 5,000-home goal could take much longer. Maui County’s goal of building 5,000 affordable homes in five years could end up taking 15 years if more is not done to help move forward affordable housing, the organization behind the county’s Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan said Tuesday. Maui News.

Maui County Sat On $8 Million That Could Have Helped Struggling Homeowners.
Housing advocates worry about the bandwidth of local government to get the program going before it’s too late. Civil Beat.

Maui County Council to decide on contested Waiehu affordable housing development. The Maui County Council's Housing and Land Use committee discussed a resolution on Tuesday that would advance the proposed Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua project in Waiehu. Hawaii Public Radio.

Pesticide band detection study on leeward Maui.
A study is now underway using absorbent bands to detect organic pollutants at 18 sites around West and South Maui.  Maui Now.

Kauai

Kaua‘i police retrieve homicide suspect’s body from canyon. County of Kaua‘i agencies and volunteers recovered what they believe to be the body of Kody Gardner from a steep cliffside in Koke‘e on Tuesday afternoon. Garden Island. Kauai Now.  Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Camouflaged Humvee stolen from Maui’s National Guard Armory. The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle was stolen between 6 p.m. on Feb. 27 and 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 28, according to the Maui Police Department. Kauai Now.

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