Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Legislature kills tax breaks on food and medicine, teacher and doctor retention falls, Senate to vote on bill legalizing recreational marijuana, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii lawmakers kill excise food tax exemption, but other proposed relief lives on. The proposal to end Hawaii’s 4.5% excise tax on food and medicine has died at the state Legislature, but there is still millions of dollars in income tax relief still on the table as the 2023 session nears its midpoint. Hawaii News Now.

Key state Senate vote today on measure aimed at physician retention. A bill that would exempt medical providers from the state’s general excise tax for treating Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE patients will be voted on today in the Senate. Tribune-Herald.

Report: Teacher Turnover Increases In Hawaii. Hawaii saw a 12.3% uptick in turnover of public school teachers during the 2021-2022 academic year compared with the school year that began in fall 2017, according to an employment report by the state Department of Education. Civil Beat.

Bill To Legalize Weed Set For Vote In Hawaii Senate.
Senate Bill 669 would allow residents to grow, consume and sell less than 1 ounce of cannabis within the state of Hawaii. It also establishes taxes for cannabis sales.  Civil Beat.

Tax to fund affordable housing advances in state Legislature. Senate Bill 362, Draft 2, which raises the conveyance tax on property sales over $2 million, has survived committee (a feat that only one in 10 bills achieve) and is set for a final floor vote in the Senate this week. Garden Island.

A push to charge for rescues on hikers blatantly ignoring rules. Senate Bill 786 would charge an individual who ignores warning signs, leave a trail to get to a prohibited area, or go on an illegal hike. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaiʻi's economic growth could surpass the national average, DBEDT says. In their latest report, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism predicted Hawaiʻi to have a better economic outcome than the national average. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lobbying continues for midwifery licensing bill at state Capitol. A bill to define licensure laws for traditional birth attendants died in the state House of Representatives last week, but some members of the public haven’t given up hope.  Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now.


Budget committee chair seeks longer-term solutions within Blangiardi's $4.5B proposal. The Blangiardi administration is proposing a $3.4 billion operating budget and a $1.09 billion Capitol Improvement Plan budget. Both are roughly a 6% increase from the previous year.  Hawaii Public Radio.

HPD seeking budget increase amid recruitment efforts. The staffing woes continue at the Honolulu Police Department with 360 police officer positions remaining unfilled. KHON2.

Honolulu Emergency Services proposal for new Ocean Safety, ambulance facilities. The Honolulu Emergency Services Department is proposing a 17.6% budget increase for fiscal year 2024. KHON2.

Median sales price for Oahu single-family homes stays under $1M. The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes on Oahu stayed below the $1 million mark for the second month in a row, and days on the market nearly quadrupled — signs that the local housing market is continuing to soften amid high inflation, relatively high mortgage rates and concerns about a looming U.S. recession. Star-Advertiser.

Surviving bill would give OHA $6M for an environmental study on Kakaʻako Makai. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs said it is not receptive to reopening the 2012 ceded lands settlement with the state because it is not giving up its Kakaʻako Makai lands. Hawaii Public Radio.

Native Hawaiian protesters who are ‘tired of waiting’ stage protest to claim DHHL lands. This week, the group began placing signs on vacant Department of Hawaiian Home Land parcels in Waianae and Kalaeloa, “reclaiming” the land for beneficiaries. Hawaii News Now.

Gov. Josh Green simplifying Aloha Stadium P3 plan. Gov. Josh Green has decided to pursue an alternate path for redeveloping Aloha Stadium in which a private partner would develop and operate a new stadium wholly or largely paid for by the state. Star-Advertiser.

Council chair: Law needs to be changed to fix flawed Waikiki Safe and Sound program. Critics complain there are no immediate consequences for repeat offenders caught violating Waikiki’s Safe and Sound program. Now, the district’s councilman is calling on the courts for help. Hawaii News Now.

Ex-Mililani athletic director surrenders in theft case. The former Mililani High School athletic director and baseball coach accused of stealing more than $400,000 from the school’s Athletic Booster Club Inc. surrendered to state Sheriff’s deputies this morning. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Official Reports Of Drug Use At Hawaii’s Largest Prison Are Challenged By Staff. Staff allege that the number of inmates who tested positive at the Halawa Correctional Facility is higher than official figures. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Nene’s death sparks call for action in Keaukaha. Nonprofits and native bird enthusiasts are pleading with government officials for help mitigating traffic in Keaukaha after a nene was killed by a driver last weekend. Tribune-Herald.

Maui’s ‘Dolphin Dave’ cited for harassing dolphins, humpback whale at Hawaiʻi Island state park.
A 65-year-old Maui man is accused of actively pursuing an adolescent humpback whale and dolphins inside Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park.  Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

800 attend Big Island cockfight; four men charged with firearms, drug offenses. Four men were arrested for firearms offenses on March 4 while at a cockfight in Kealakekua, where drugs and illegal firearms were recovered, along with U.S. currency and two vehicles for forfeiture, according to Hawaiʻi Island police. Big Island Now. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Lease dispute escalates over state land in Hilo. Legal challenges against the state by a Hilo business owner whose lease agreement is in jeopardy could heat up after a hearing Friday. Tribune-Herald.


Excavation starts at site of fuel spill atop Haleakalā. Excavation for cleanup of the Haleakalā fuel spill site began March 2, 2023, at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex following approval of a work plan.  Maui Now.

DLNR pursues owners for costs to remove yacht from Maui reef. The nominee to run the state Department of Land and Natural Resources plans to go after the owners of an illegally moored yacht that broke free, leaked fuel and damaged 20 species of coral near a Maui marine life conservation district. Star-Advertiser.

Contract negotiations for Maui County hospital workers continue, but talks break down. Negotiations between Kaiser’s Maui Health System and the United Public Workers union for a new contract for nearly 500 health care workers continued Monday, but talks broke down after just two hours, officials said. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Lanai Water Utility Seeks Significant Increase In Rates. The Lanai Water Co. is seeking a rate increase that would add $76.78 to the average customer’s monthly bill, which now is $18.75. Civil Beat.

350 still without power; initial outage impacted 6,900 customers from Pukalani to Hāna, Maui. Approximately 6,900 customers from the Pukalani to Hāna area experienced the outage starting around 6:40 a.m. Maui Now.


Scrap metal not accepted at Līhuʻe refuse transfer center March 6-10.  The Līhu‘e refuse transfer station will not be accepting residential scrap metal for recycling from March 6 to 10 due to equipment issues. Kauai Now.

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