Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Senate panel to discuss banning land sales to foreigners, Maui police issue after-action report on wildfire response, 2.2k plaintiffs file new Red Hill lawsuit, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

A bill is being proposed to the Senate on Tuesday to decide whether foreigners should be banned from purchasing land in Hawaii.  Senator Brenton Awa introduced SB2617 and said it’s about creating affordable housing for local people. KHON2.

Lawmakers introduce bill allowing counties to regulate tobacco sales. Lawmakers are considering a measure to repeal a 2018 state law known as Act 206 that preempts county tobacco sales measures. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hearing today on drunken driving bill.
State House Bill 1935 would, if passed, reduce the BAC threshold for drunken driving charges from the current 0.08% to 0.05%, which would be tied with Utah for the lowest in the nation. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmakers look to fund resources for substance abuse issues.
The state has already received about $19 million from settlements with opioid distributors and manufacturers to address substance abuse, but most of that money has not been spent. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers to discuss adding funding to University Hawai‘i budget to expand a scholarship program.  Lawmakers are looking to add $19 million to the University of Hawai‘i’s annual budget to fund the expansion of a community college scholarship to university students at Mānoa, Hilo and West O‘ahu. Big Island Now.

Bill this session would create a sustainable food systems working group for the state. A bill currently in the state Legislature proposes the creation of a working group to improve local agriculture, food resilience and access to healthy food across Hawaiʻi. Hawaii Public Radio.

Schools plan changes as hungry students describe unappetizing lunches. The push for more local fresh food is only at about 6 percent of DOE food served right now, with a goal of 30% by 2030. KHON2.

State psychiatric hospital overcrowded with patients who don’t have medical needs.
Hawaii’s only hospital that offers secure treatment for people with mental illnesses is overcrowded — mostly with people who do not medically need hospitalization. Hawaii News Now.


New Red Hill suit with 2,200 plaintiffs claims contamination of Navy water continues. Attorneys claim the Navy failed to warn residents after the 2021 fuel spills sickened thousands of people. They also allege plaintiffs are battling lingering illnesses and the water contamination hasn’t gone away. Hawaii News Now.

Ex-city prosecutor, co-defendants want key evidence excluded from corruption trial. Among the topics the defense does not want brought up before the jury: Details about tax returns, campaign contributions and disgraced ex-deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha. Hawaii News Now.

University of Hawaii selects film studio developer for West Oahu. The University of Hawaii is expected to announce today that it has selected a private developer to design, build, finance and operate a more than $100 million film and television production studio planned next door to UH West Oahu’s campus in Kapolei. Star-Advertiser.

Renewed push afoot to restore and preserve Honolulu’s Chinatown. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said while there are challenges with the homeless, streets are cleaner, the River of Life relocated, more police are out patrolling, seven new surveillance cameras are up, and a major improvement project is slated for the area next to Cultural Plaza known as “river walk.” Hawaii News Now.

Council scrutinizes city’s tree planting program.
Honolulu Council member Radiant Cordero is concerned the city’s stated goal to plant 100,000 trees by 2025 has fallen short of its mark. Star-Advertiser.

Proposed wave pool draws opposition from groups of ʻEwa residents and Native Hawaiians. Plans for another artificial wave pool on the south shore of Oʻahu are raising concerns and a legal challenge from a group of ʻEwa Beach residents and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

New Hawaiʻi County Human Resources Director Named. Sommer Tokihiro was named to fill the position formerly held by Waylen Leopoldino, who departed the job on June 30, 2023. Big Island Video News.

Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant Project Draft EA Published. The draft Environmental Assessment says the project is anticipated to cost approximately $300 million to construct. Big Island Video News.

Kona judge calls HMSA contracts ‘unconscionable’. A Kailua-Kona judge on Friday ruled that contract terms and conditions the state’s largest health insurer imposes on doctors and patients are “unconscionable” and “unenforceable.” Tribune-Herald.

New proposal aims to advance study on alternate traffic routes between Puna and Hilo. Hawaiʻi County councilmembers will have another opportunity to advance plans to alleviate traffic congestion in the rapidly growing district of Puna on Hawaiʻi Island. Hawaii Public Radio.


Communications key to improving response, Maui police say in after-action report.  The Maui Police Department released 32 recommendations and preliminary findings from an internal review of its response to the Aug. 8 high winds and wildfires that left 100 dead and 7,000 people homeless. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Final resting place for Lahaina fire debris needs public input.
As the cleanup of Lahaina steadily ramps up, Maui County officials are asking the community to help decide the final resting place for an estimated 300,000-400,000 tons of contaminated ash and debris. Maui News.

Program to send young Maui fire victims to Japan. The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is preparing to send a cohort of youths affected by the Maui wildfires to Japan as a part of their new program called TOMODACHI Kibou for Maui, an initiative being carried out in partnership with TOMODACHI Initiative and Odyssey Japan. Star-Advertiser.


Mirah Horowitz is named new Kaua‘i Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals president. Horowitz previously served as the executive director of the Kaua‘i Humane Society from October 2018 through October 2020. Garden Island.

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