Monday, February 5, 2024

Interior Department issues new Hawaiian language guidance, Green pushes climate fee, Saiki, Roth out-raising challengers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Department of the Interior releases new guidance to honor, elevate Hawaiian language. A comprehensive new Departmental Manual chapter underscores the Department’s commitment to further integrating Indigenous Knowledge and cultural practices into conservation stewardship. Kauai Now.

Full text of new Department of the Interior chapter can be found here.

Bill to raise Hawaii DOE superintendent pay cap sparks controversy. Hawaii DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi currently makes $240,000 a year. A bill would raise that cap to $350,000, but there’s no shortage of frustration when talking about pay increases for government officials. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmakers consider bills to address childcare staffing shortages. SB 2603 and its companion bill, HB1964, would require the Department of Human Services to establish a childcare subsidy and bonus program for workers caring for children six weeks to 3 years old. KITV4.

Hawaii’s Governor Wants To Finally Get A Climate Fee Passed, But Will It Be Enough? The state is falling short by hundreds of millions of dollars each year to protect its environment, conservationists say. The new proposal would raise about $70 million annually. Civil Beat.

Bills would regulate short-term rentals. A bill that seeks to give the counties the power to control short-term rentals — even phase them out— is moving in the state Legislature. Other bills under consideration are geared to encouraging better regulation of short-term rentals, or providing incentives to convert them into longer-term housing. Star-Advertiser.

House Speaker Well Funded In Rematch With Persistent Opponent. Scott Saiki has 10 times the amount of cash in his campaign war chest compared with Kim Coco Iwamoto. Civil Beat.

Wildfire issues take center stage among Hawaii lawmakers. Predicting wildfires using artificial intelligence, banning new overhead high-voltage power lines and paying for catastrophic fire property losses could be in Hawaii’s future depending on state lawmaker decisions this year. Star-Advertiser.

HECO-Backed Bill Would Help Protect Utilities From Litigation Over Wildfire Damage. Utilities, insurers, large landowners and the state would pay into a "wildfire relief fund" to help pay for property damage claims. Civil Beat.

HECO’s Board Chair Is Suing His Own Utility Over The Maui Fires. Timothy Johns has recused himself from some HECO decisions, as an activist shareholder calls for overhauling HECO's board. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s New $120M Undersea Cable Project Is A ‘Serious Poke’ To Shake Up The Market.
The state will retain a 20% ownership interest in the interisland network, which will compete with Hawaiian Telcom. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Banning Excessive Delirium As A Cause Of Death. The term already isn't being used by the Medical Examiner's Office and most doctors, officials said. But advocates want to ban it officially. Civil Beat.

Hawaii retail market faced exodus, but some are optimistic
. Times are tough for those in retail, but some retailers are still forging ahead with the opening of new stores, with hopes of betters times to come. Star-Advertiser.


HART mulls scrapping internal audit. A plan to scrap a previously sought top-down internal review of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is underway. Star-Advertiser.

29 Honolulu police officers disciplined in 2023.
Twenty-nine Honolulu police officers were disciplined in 2023 in connection with 28 incidents, including covering up police pursuits that ended in crashes and acquiring parts to build a ghost gun. Star-Advertiser.

Navy water system sees increase in tap water, air quality complaints.
The Navy is responsible for maintaining water quality, as the water purveyor for the water system, and is therefore primarily responsible for water testing, under regulatory oversight by the state Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Backlog of repairs plagues UH Manoa student housing as officials try for revitalization. Serious plumbing problems are a major reason the 656-bed Hale Wainani apartments are considered by UH officials to be at risk of becoming the next aging UH student housing complex to be closed, following the neighboring 530-bed Hale Noelani apartment complex, which has been shuttered and silent for nearly seven years. Star-Advertiser.

New housing development planned at former Saint Francis School campus. Saint Francis School closed its doors in 2019, and developer Avalon Group has bought the property for $23.35 million, according to brokerage firm CBRE. Star-Advertiser.

Concerns rising for Oahu's homeless kupuna. The city and state are working together to find more health care and social service workers to help homeless people on the streets and develop the most appropriate course of treatment. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Big Island Mayor Outpaces Lone Challenger In Election Fundraising. Mitch Roth's war chest is tens of thousands of dollars larger than that of rival candidate Kimo Alameda with nine months to go before the election. Civil Beat.

‘Safe Spaces’ plan underway: County officials eyeing possible sites for homeless camps
. Homeless individuals could begin congregating in Hawaii County-authorized “Safe Spaces” in Hilo and Kailua-Kona under a new housing initiative. Tribune-Herald.

National park launches volcano summit makeover
. Nearly six years after the 2018 Kilauea eruption landed crippling blows to the buildings and roads of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the National Park Serv­ice has launched a $28 million project to rehabilitate the summit area of Kilauea Volcano. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.


Bill seeks to expedite rebuilding of homes and businesses in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui. Bill 21 (2024), submitted by the county’s Department of Public Works, would amend the Maui County Code in an effort to broaden the applicability of emergency-repair provisions and clarify the review and approval procedures for emergency-repair permits.  Maui Now.

Developer selected for proposed ʻUkiu Energy biofuel-powered generator project on Maui
. The ʻUkiu Energy 40-megawatt (MW) biofuel-powered generator proposed by Ameresco Inc. is aimed at helping to move Hawai‘i closer to its clean energy goals, while adding critical grid reliability with firm renewable energy.  Maui Now.

Kaiser to open temporary West Maui Clinic in Kaanapali.
Kaiser Permanente recently announced plans to open a temporary West Maui Clinic on the grounds of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort in Kaanapali.  Star-Advertiser.

HECO, Maui County may be sued for harm to seabirds from streetlights and power lines
. The Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi and the American Bird Conservancy, represented by Earthjustice, submitted notice this week that they may file a lawsuit seeking to "put an end to HECO's and the County's illegal conduct," according to a statement.  Hawaii Public Radio.


Vidinha Stadium to temporarily close for repairs
. Director of Parks and Recreation Pat Porter said the repairs are needed to extend the life of track. Track users, including the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation, may continue to use it until the main track and field replacement projects get underway. Kauai Now.

Connecting to Kaua‘i’s endangered forest birds. Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami issued a Makahiki o na manu proclamation dedicating the year to raising awareness about native forest birds. Garden Island.

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