Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Legislature tackles wildfire prevention, patient ratios, clean elections, fireworks, recreational marijuana; ex-Sen. English to get early prison release; Miske trial resumes, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Lawmakers Are Working On Ways To Whack Hawaii’s Fire-Fueling Weeds. Senators have signaled an early willingness to spend state money on mowing down Hawaii’s invasive grasses as they consider a bevy of bills geared toward avoiding another deadly wildfire.  Civil Beat.

Federal order releases former senator Kalani English from prison early. English’s sentence was supposed to be 40 months from Aug. 2022, but now he will be getting out after 32 months. He pleaded guilty to Honest Services Wire Fraud in Feb. 2022, after trading cash and other gifts for a draft on cesspool and wastewater policy with a businessman. KHON2.

Bill for ‘clean elections’ has widespread public support. Senate Bill 2381 is a so-called “clean elections” bill that would establish a system for candidates in state and county public elections to be eligible for a certain amount of public financing, beginning in 2028. Tribune-Herald.

State Senate bill covers a key issue expressed by nurses who have gone on strike.
Members from the Hawai‘i Nurses’ Association testified during a hearing about the need to establish and enforce staff-to-patient ratios at health care facilities across the state. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

Senate Committee to hear testimony on bill to legalize recreational marijuana. The discussion on legalizing marijuana begins as members of the State Senate take up the matter during a public hearing this morning during a joint Health and Human Services and Judiciary committees meeting. Big Island Now.

Legislators look to ban consumer fireworks statewide. There are efforts to significantly reduce consumer fireworks throughout the state, proposed law seeks to only allow fireworks at permitted cultural events. KHON2.

Kaniela Ing Faces More Charges Of Campaign Spending Violations. The former state lawmaker could be penalized more than $18,000 for failure to keep financial records and filing false reports. Civil Beat.

Hawaiʻi to build out housing services with Medicaid under new federal program.
The Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator supports states that are using Medicaid funds for programs that help people secure and maintain stable housing. Hawaii Public Radio.

HECO conducting utility pole audit on Maui, Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island. Hawaiian Electric Co. is conducting an inventory audit of attachments on utility poles throughout Maui, and Oʻahu and Hawai‘i Island as well, according to an announcement. Maui Now.


Blangiardi announces reelection bid for Honolulu mayor
. Four years to the day from his announcement that he would run for his first political office, Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced Monday that he’ll seek reelection. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.  KITV4.

Attorney for HPD officer in crash disputes witness claims, says he wasn’t intoxicated. An attorney representing the Honolulu police officer reportedly seen tossing what appeared to beer bottles from his department-subsidized vehicle following a crash last month in Wahiawa is adamant Tyson Chun was not driving intoxicated and is innocent of any wrongdoing. Hawaii News Now.

Miske Trial Resumes After Weeklong Recess Due To Juror Illness. Sara Tufele, who has a child with one of Miske's former top associates, testified that she felt threatened after her boyfriend began cooperating with authorities. Civil Beat. KITV4.

Murdered child’s guardians face life without parole as lawmakers consider child welfare reforms. After three people were charged with the child abuse and neglect murder of 10-year-old Geanna Bradley, there are renewed calls to toughen the program designed to protect children in the foster care system. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Labor-trafficking case against couple is dismissed.
Oahu Circuit Judge Shanlyn Park dismissed labor- trafficking felony charges against a Palolo couple accused of bringing a woman and her then 15-year-old daughter from Guam to Hono­lulu in 2021, beating and forcing them to perform work, locking the girl in their apartment and taking their passports and money. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Kona Airport begins runway repairs, closing overnight operations. Starting Tuesday, the state Department of Transportation will close the Kona airport for 15 consecutive nights to conduct runway repairs. Hawaii Public Radio.

Animal Control recruitment, staffing ‘probably our biggest issue,’ administrator says.
Matthew Runnels, administrator of the recently created Animal Control and Protection Agency, made a presentation Tuesday to the County Council’s Communications, Reports and Council Oversight Committee about finding his agency’s footing since it took over the county’s animal control duties in July. Tribune-Herald.


Maui County Finance Director, Scott Teruya on administrative leave with pay. County officials could not provide details on the reason behind the action.  Maui Now.

Board to oversee rebuilding on Maui is proposed. A proposal to facilitate rebuilding fire-ravaged Lahaina, perhaps with new land-use rules and funding governed by a community- based board, is slated for discussion Wednesday at the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Lahaina Death Trap: The Night Fire Engulfed Kuhua Street. A third of the fire's victims died on a narrow dead-end street in central Lahaina, unable to access an alternative route to safety. Civil Beat.

Maui Police Are Tackling A 30% Job Vacancy Rate By Opening A New Recruiting Center. Officers want to show their personal investment in potential hires as the department tries to fill the empty positions. Civil Beat.


DLNR to auction off leases for west Kaua’i cabins. Annual leases for seven cabins in the Kōke’e recreation residence community will be auctioned to the public in mid-April by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Kauai Now.

Southwest flight safely lands on Kaua‘i following fistfight midair. Southwest officials say flight 1288 landed safely as scheduled and local authorities met the aircraft upon arrival. Kauai Now.

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