Monday, May 8, 2023

Green granted $200M discretionary spending, Tokioka named DBEDT director, cruise ships return with a vengeance, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii’s cruise ship tourism picks up steam. The winds are shifting for Hawaii’s cruise ship trade as bookings catch up with pent-up demand for travel after the state went almost two years without a single sailing. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Gov. Green’s $200M ‘pot of money’ under scrutiny. Some House members who voted in protest against the new state budget ended the legislative session with questions about how leaders of both chambers ended up granting Gov. Josh Green power to use $200 million — accompanied by “safeguards” — to spend any way he wants. Star-Advertiser.

Green Picks Former Legislator Tokioka To Lead the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. James “Jimmy” Kunane Tokioka is a former member of the Kauai County Council and Hawaii State House of Representatives with a background in the hotel industry. He left the Legislature last year to be Green’s director of the airports division in the state Department of Transportation. Civil Beat. Big Island Video News.  Maui Now.  Garden Island. Kauai Now.

How major bills fared at the Capitol. Here is the status of major bills following the end of the 60-day legislative session known as “sine die.”  Star-Advertiser.

Chaos at the Capitol is part of lawmaking in Hawaii
. Many bills fell by the wayside amid the rush, or “cattle call” as some observers called it, including legislation where agreement was lacking but also some bills where no conference committee quorum could be arranged or a key lawmaker was elsewhere when their vote was needed. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Legislature Delivers Mixed Bag On Climate, Environment Solutions. Lawmakers punted on key cesspool measures, but they made some progress on conservation and the state's zero-emission goals. Civil Beat.

Hawaii doctors to get more from Medicaid. Hawaii doctors are poised to get paid more for treating Medicaid patients after state lawmakers inserted $60 million into the state biennium budget to boost reimbursement rates for the government insurance plan that primarily covers low-income and disabled residents. Star-Advertiser.

Health advocates praise vape bill’s passage. Senate Bill 975 Opens in a new tab taxes electronic smoking devices and e-liquids at the same level as other tobacco products and prohibits the shipping of vaping products to anyone other than licensed retailers. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.

HMSA employees say executive compensation came as a shock. Employees at the Hawaii Medical Service Association say they’re angry after learning that top executives at their company raked in large pay increases during the COVID-19 pandemic while at the same time curtailing pay raises and benefits for regular employees. Star-Advertiser.


Honolulu reduces workforce vacancies, but slightly. To drive down the more than 3,000 vacancies plaguing the ranks of the city’s workforce, Mayor Rick Blangiardi in 2022 sought to quash the six-month wait it took to fill an average City and County of Honolulu employee position. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Council Members Hope To Strengthen New Historic Preservation Commission. The Oahu Historic Preservation Commission, the city’s newest oversight board, is going to be more muscular and better staffed than originally envisioned, if City Council members Tommy Waters and Esther Kiaaina have their way. Civil Beat.

Grant to foster traditional watershed management. Groups led by Malama Maunalua, have been awarded an $8 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant to utilize the traditional ridge-to-reef ahupuaa strategy to address habitat degradation in the Niu, Kuliouou, and Wailupe watersheds of Maunalua Bay. Star-Advertiser.

Joint Task Force-Red Hill releases investigation into November forever chemical spill. Six months ago, the U.S. Navy reported a 1,300 spill of a highly concentrated Aqueous Film Forming Foam at the infamous Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oʻahu. Hawaii Public Radio. Maui News.

Hawaii Island

Scientists look to cull invasive beetle decimating Hawaii coffee. Researchers plan to import a population of parasitic wasps to manage an invasive insect devastating Hawaii’s coffee industry. Tribune-Herald.

Coffee bill passed – Bill expands current coffee-labeling requirements. Although it’s not what coffee farmers were hoping for, the first step to protect the name Kona and other geographic names for the coffee grown and produced in the state was passed through the Hawaii Senate and awaits Gov. Josh Green’s signature. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island hospitals awarded nearly $70M. The state Legislature has awarded Hilo Medical Center, Hawaii island’s largest hospital, $50 million for its long-awaited expansion project to help address overcapacity. The Legislature also appropriated Kona Community Hospital with $18.5 million to make urgently needed infrastructure repairs. Star-Advertiser.

Ceremony celebrates Edith Kanaka‘ole’s commemorative coin. Hundreds of people filled the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Performing Arts Center on Saturday to honor the legacy of Edith Kanaka‘ole, a revered Hawaiian educator, composer, singer and dancer. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. Big Island Video News.


Maui County lawmakers mull wins, defeats as session ends.
Lawmakers feel Maui County fared well this legislative session, with funding for a variety of local projects, bills passed to address the lack of medical professionals as well as legislation and funding to help ease the housing crisis. Maui News.

With One Airline Left, Molokai And Lanai Residents Struggle To Access Medical Care. Living on Hawaii’s least populated islands means specialized medical care is not readily available. It’s always been part of the reality on Molokai and Lanai, but the challenge has become increasingly severe due to air travel options. Civil Beat.


Meeting Tuesday is on further Kawaihau Road improvement plans. The county Department of Public Works will hold a public meeting on May 9 frm 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Catherine Church Coyle Hall to review the developing design concepts for the Kawaihau Road Improvements Project, for the area from St. Catherine Church to Ka‘apuni Road. Garden Island.

Mongoose captured at Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauaʻi. While mongoose populations are well-established on O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i and Hawai‘i Island, the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee continues to successfully prevent the animal from gaining a foothold on the Garden Isle. Kauai Now.

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