Thursday, March 30, 2023

Tourist impact fee advances, humpback whale sightings decrease 40%, makeover coming to Blaisdell, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii ‘visitor impact fee’ bill moves forward. A “visitor impact fee” bill that would require any nonresident aged 15 or older to pay for an annual license to visit a state park, beach, forest, hiking trail or other natural area is still alive. Star-Advertiser.

Green’s Cabinet nominees face tough slog in the Senate. There is no shortage of theories swirling in and around the state Capitol to explain Gov. Josh Green’s two failed Cabinet nominees and one whose confirmation ended in a tie — an unusually high rejection count for a popular governor midway through his first legislative session. Star-Advertiser.

Past governors also hit roadblocks. Since statehood, no first-term governor has had more Cabinet nominees rejected than Gov. Josh Green. But other governors in their first terms have seen their share of roughed-up nominees. Star-Advertiser.

State reaches settlement in civil lawsuit that accused embattled DLNR boating chief of sexual assault.
A confidential settlement has been reached involving Ed Underwood, the state administrator for the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, and a female subordinate in a civil lawsuit that accuses the administrator of sexual assault and claims the DLNR was slow to act. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Why 2 Of Hawaii’s Best-Known Brands Are Battling In Court. The local candy company Hawaiian Host Group, which also owns the Mauna Loa macadamia nut brand, is engaged in a bitter lawsuit with its longtime banker, First Hawaiian Bank, in a matter stemming from the darkest days of the pandemic, when Hawaiian Host was on the verge of bankruptcy. Civil Beat.

Humpback whale sightings decreased by almost 40%.  The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the Pacific Whale Foundation coordinate the research to understand population trends. This is the first year since the pandemic that both programs resumed normal operations. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii reports 1,263 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths. The state’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases was reported at 122 a day, nearly double the 66 a day reported on March 22. The state’s average positivity rate was at 8.9% compared with 5.2% reported on March 22. Star-Advertiser.


$43.6M makeover to start at Neal S. Blaisdell Center.  The city’s nearly 60-year-old prime venue for live concerts and sporting events, graduations and hula competitions, Broadway shows and exhibitions of all sorts, began renovations in February to address health, safety and deferred maintenance concerns.  Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

50 years later, Vietnam War veterans finally get a fitting welcome home with Waikiki parade. It was 50 years ago that the U.S. military ended its involvement in Vietnam. And on this day, there was a sense that the veterans who served in that war were finally being welcomed home. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Bills before lawmakers threaten future of 1,000-patient medical marijuana farm on Oahu. Care Waialua offers medical marijuana patients access to grow-their-own sites, and it has more than 1,000 medical marijuana card-holders signed up. Hawaii News Now.

New bill would require bars, nightclubs to carry life-saving overdose treatment. City Councilmembers are considering a bill that would require high-risk venues like bars and nightclubs to carry life-saving overdose treatment Narcan in an effort to tackle Hawaii’s ongoing opioid crisis. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Red light cameras are nabbing hundreds of red-light runners. According to the Department of Transportation, there have been 1,793 citations issued in just the first four months of the program.  KHON2.

Hawaii Prisoner Dies After Serving More Than 59 Years For 1963 Murders. Alfred Joy Tai, who served more than 59 consecutive years in prison for the murders of two Honolulu police officers in 1963, died earlier this week in an Arizona prison, according to Hawaii corrections officials. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Pre-Fab Housing May Finally Be A Viable Option For Big Island Farmers Trying To House Workers. Despite the global popularity of prefabricated housing, it barely had a footprint in the state until local building supply outfit Hawaii Planing Mill pre-built housing for those displaced by the 2018 Kilauea eruptions which destroyed 700 homes in Puna. Civil Beat.

Delays Reported In Kilauea Recovery Road, Waterline Projects. An Environmental Assessment for the Kīlauea Eruption Recovery Pohoiki Roads project, originally planned to be completed in January, will take another 6 months to finalize. Big Island Video News.

Vietnam Veterans memorial unveiled. On Wednesday, Vietnam Veterans Day, as America recognized the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, a group of dedicated veterans unveiled a new Vietnam War Memorial at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now.

Ola Brewing eyes new venue. The Hawaiian Ola Brewing Corporation has submitted to the county Planning Department an application for a special management area use permit to renovate the 12,000-square-foot building to house a micro-distillery and agricultural processing facility, in addition to a restaurant and bar area seating up to 60 people. Tribune-Herald.

Proposal seeks to designate 122,000 acres as critical habitat.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed that more than 122,000 acres of Big Island land be designated a critical habitat for 11 native endangered plants and one native endangered fly. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Plans underway to make Kapāpala forest a long-term source for koa canoes. More than 30 years ago, the state set aside about 1,200 acres of forest in Kaʻū on Hawaiʻi Island to address a significant decline in koa trees. Hawaii Public Radio.


West Maui to hold first evening budget meeting Thursday, March 30.  The Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee will receive testimony on the fiscal year 2024 budget on Thursday at 6 p.m. in Lahaina Civic Center’s Social Hall. Maui Now.

Plan to widen Puunene Avenue moves forward. The state Department of Transportation is proposing to add two additional vehicle lanes and shared shoulders to Puunene Avenue between Wakea Avenue and Kuihelani Highway.  Maui News.

Amid mounting challenges, Maui’s only private obstetrics practice will soon close its doors. In a major setback is coming for women’s healthcare on Maui, the island’s only private obstetrics doctors will deliver their final babies this fall. Hawaii News Now.

Maui Department of Liquor Control to accept License renewal applications April 1.  Applications can be submitted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the department’s office at 110 Alaʻihi St., Room 212, in Kahului. Maui Now.


Kauaʻi event invited landlords to 'overcome stigma' of low-income renters. The nonprofit Leadership Kauaʻi partnered with the county's housing agency to host the island's second Landlord Summit last week. Hawaii Public Radio.

Ana Mo Des elected chair of Kaua‘i Republican Party. With the goal of team unity, the Kaua‘i Republican Party selected its new executive committee during the Kaua‘i County Republican Party County Convention held Saturday afternoon at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center. Garden Island.

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