Tuesday, February 20, 2024

State budget in crisis as Maui fire cost rises to $600M, Legislature could force HECO restructuring, support ebbs for legalizing marijuana, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Bad News For The Budget: Maui Fire Costs Could Top $600 Million This Year Alone. Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz is raising red flags about mounting costs as his Ways and Means Committee considers emergency appropriation measures. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

Proposed HECO Bailout Bill Could Force The Utility Company To Restructure. Claims against the company from the Maui wildfires are expected to be substantial and the Legislature is considering ways to help with those costs. Civil Beat.

House marijuana debate shows softening support for legalization in Hawaii.
While a sweeping bill to legalize adult use of marijuana is moving through the state Senate, the state House is struggling to pass a bill to increase how much marijuana someone can possess without a criminal penalty. Hawaii News Now.

Job demand for college degree growing in Hawaii, report finds. The proportion of U.S. jobs requiring postsecondary preparation continues to inch upward, and by 2031 in Hawaii, 70% of job openings will require some type of education and/or training beyond high school, says a report from researchers at Georgetown University. Star-Advertiser. Kauai Now.  KITV4.

Task force would detail Hawaii dental needs. Following a 2022 funding victory by Hawaii dentists that restored Medicaid dental coverage for more than 200,000 adults, the Hawaii Dental Hui now wants to create an oral health task force to take a comprehensive look at oral care needs around the state. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii gets an upgrade in coral reef insurance
. When The Nature Conservancy took out the insurance policy for Hawaii reefs in 2022, it was the first to do so in the United States — a move to counteract the increasingly destructive potential of hurricanes and tropical storms due to climate change. Star-Advertiser.

Nearly $31M in federal funding will go toward airport improvements. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation was awarded $30.6 million for improvements, with $22 million for the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu and $8.6 million at the Kahului Airport on Maui. Hawaii Public Radio.


Push to reinvigorate Downtown is going in the ‘right direction’ but still faces obstacles. The push to reinvigorate Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown is underway. Lawmakers and residents said it looks promising, but admit several obstacles remain. KHON2.

Nurses and Kapiolani Medical Center agree to invite federal mediator to bargaining table. Kapiolani Medical Center and their nurses have been going back and forth to negotiate new contracts since September 2023, some working without a contract since Dec. 1, 2023. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Administrative order between EPA, county aims to improve aging sewage plants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Hawaii County have drafted an agreement detailing a series of improvements the county must make to its wastewater systems by 2035, or face penalties. Tribune-Herald.

Hawai‘i Island police chief seeks council help to grow department by adding additional positions. Hawai‘i Island police chief believes he will come close to filling the department’s 89 vacant sworn officer positions in the next couple of years with his new recruiting efforts but is looking to Hawai‘i County Council for some help. Big Island Now.


Maui County Committee Tosses Mayor’s Picks for Boards and Commissions. Citing a missed deadline by Mayor Richard Bissen, the committee decided to select its own nominees for government panels. Some question the authority to do so. Civil Beat.

Campaign seeks to bring visitors back to Maui. The Hawaii Tourism Authority has launched a new public service campaign, “Makaukau Maui,” which seeks to tell visitors that while historic Lahaina remains closed after the deadly Aug. 8 wildfires, accommodations on West Maui are open and residents are ready to welcome them back. Star-Advertiser.

These Maui Architects Say They Can Help Lahaina Rebuild Faster And Cheaper. Homeowners in Lahaina face multiple hurdles before they can begin rebuilding, but architects say that preapproved designs could be an important part of the process. Civil Beat.

Temporary housing project for fire survivors breaks ground in West Maui. One of Maui’s first temporary housing projects since the devastating wildfires last August officially broke ground on Monday. The Kapalua Village Temporary Housing Support Project provides housing for West Maui employees impacted by the disaster. Hawaii News Now.


Firefighters statewide practice wildfire suppression using flames on Kaua‘i. Two dozen federal, state and county firefighters gathered in south Kaua‘i to participate in ignition training on former agriculture lands. Kauai Now.

More than 2,000 pounds of derelict fishing gear removed from Kaua‘i coastline. Over the course of the three days, 30 volunteers helped remove more than 2,000 pounds of derelict fishing gear from Po‘ipū coastline, hauling away three truckloads of the marine debris. Kauai Now.

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