Monday, March 18, 2024

Counties could get authority to phase out vacation rentals, Legislature safeguards $1.5B rainy day fund, bill proposes feral cats for womenʻs prison, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Bill advances that gives counties power to phase out short-term rental units. A bill that seeks to give the counties the power to control short-term rentals — even phase them out— is still alive after crossing over from the Senate to the House where two House committees moved the measure forward. Star-Advertiser.

With cloudy state finances, Hawaii’s ‘rainy day’ fund held for future rainy day.
  Hawaii lawmakers have recently considered cutting every state agency’s budget along with various special funds and capital improvement projects to pay for stunning costs related to the Maui wildfire disaster, without touching the record $1.5 billion in its Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund. Star-Advertiser.

Alcohol bill’s clout remains in doubt. Proponents of Senate Bill 2384 — which crossed over from the Senate to the House — hope a lower blood alcohol content will force a change in attitude for people who want to have more than one drink and still choose to drive. Star-Advertiser.

Speed-limit enforcement bills face rough routes.
Proposed legislation this year to ticket speeders on Hawaii highways using fixed cameras has been redirected and still faces a possible roadblock ahead. Star-Advertiser.

DFI orders Sigue Corp. to stop transmitting money in Hawaii. The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Financial Institutions issued a cease-and-desist order to Sigue Friday. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.  KITV4.

Hawaii seeks answers to state’s lithium-ion battery conundrum. As Hawaii strives toward its clean energy goals, there is growing concern over the waste stream of lithium-ion batteries that come with renewable energy technology. Star-Advertiser.

Commission leader Ed Noh seeks to improve awareness of public charter schools. That Ed Noh grew up in California and got his start in school leadership in Seattle ironically works in his favor in some ways now that championing the charter-school cause is a big part of his job as the first permanent executive director of the Hawaii Public Charter School Commission in four years. Star-Advertiser.

How Far Is Too Far? Parents Push The Limits Of Harassment In Hawaii Schools
. As parent frustration and aggression escalates in schools, the Hawaii Department of Education grapples with how to keep employees safe while respecting families' rights. Civil Beat.

Placing Stray Cats In Hawaii Women’s Prison Could Have ‘Transformative Effect’.
A legislative proposal would provide inmates at the Women’s Community Correctional Center with the opportunity to care for vulnerable kittens. Civil Beat.


Central Oahu loses its only ER with no timeline on when it will reopen.  While the closure of the Wahiawa General Hospital ER is said to be temporary, officials have yet to provide a timeline for when emergency services... will resume. The news comes just days after Wahiawa General also shuttered its crumbling inpatient unit. Hawaii News Now.

Upgrade At Kailua Wastewater Plant Is Expected To Curb Bacteria And Limit Beach Closures.
A disinfection system using ultraviolet light as a disinfectant will likely curb high levels of bacteria from the Kailua wastewater treatment plant, resulting in fewer beach closures by the end of 2025, according to an official with the City and County of Honolulu.  Civil Beat.

Navy publishes preliminary water quality assessment report. The Navy last week released a new report on its preliminary plumbing assessment following multiple complaints of air and water quality issues from residents on its water system. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Top official from China’s Fujian province in Hawaii for goodwill visit. City Councilmember Calvin Say and State representative Sean Quinlan joined dozens of business leaders for a welcome reception hosted by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce at Jade Dynasty at Ala Moana Center. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

County bill would require waste facilities be open at least 2 days a week. While the proposal is nonspecific and applies to “any facility used for the disposal, collection and transfer of household solid waste” on the island, Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz said it is intended to be a direct boon to users of the Kalapana Transfer Station, which she said currently is the only one in the county that operates only one day a week. Tribune-Herald.

Progress made on Waimea food processing plant.
Farmers in Waimea are one step closer to having a refurbished food processing facility after the partial demolition of the Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant. West Hawaii Today.

Losing North Kohala’s Irrigation System Was ‘Catastrophic.’ Will It Ever Be Fixed?. The Kohala Ditch was built in the early 1900s to water sugarcane fields, then it fed ranches and small farmers' operations. But it has languished since breaking in 2021. Civil Beat.

Dredging of boat harbor on track, but work not expected to start before July.
Lawmakers and boaters hope for smooth sailing at the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor in Hilo as a long-awaited dredging project inches closer toward beginning. Tribune-Herald.


Maui Mayor: ‘The State Of Our County Is Heartbroken’ But Recovery Will Happen.
Bissen laid out his plans to address the housing crisis seven months after the Aug. 8 fires killed at least 101 people and destroyed much of Lahaina and parts of Kula. Civil Beat. Maui Now.  Associated Press.

State ramps up efforts to move displaced Maui residents out of hotel shelters. The state has a new plan to move displaced Maui residents sheltering in hotels to more permanent housing. The goal is to have all families in more permanent housing by May. Hawaii Public Radio.

Catholic Charities USA will continue aiding Maui recovery. Kerry Alys Robinson, Catholic Charities USA president and CEO, said her two-day visit to Maui last week filled her with deep sorrow for what people lost in the disastrous August wildfires as well as gratitude for those helping with their recovery, and she promised to continue raising funds to aid the effort. Star-Advertiser.

Maui County Wants To Take Private Land For Fire Debris Dump Site, But Owner Wants To Build The Landfill. Mayor Richard Bissen planned to meet with the property owners Monday to discuss ways to possibly avoid eminent domain proceedings. Civil Beat.

Kahului Harbor undergoes $5 million spring cleaning. A dredging crew contracted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers is expected to remove about 130,000 cubic yards of sediment from Kahului Harbor as part of a $5 million project that is currently underway. Maui News.


New ocean safety information greets airport visitors. Kaua‘i Ocean Safety Bureau personnel, including Chief Kalani Vierra, Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association and the Department of Transportation, Airports Division capitalized on the traffic slowdown to install upgraded ocean safety information at the two baggage claims area at Lihu‘e Airport on Friday. Garden Island.

Clearing and maintenance work scheduled for Kaiākea fire station. The necessary work will allow various County of Kaua‘i crews to cut and maintain vegetation and remove debris on the property. Kauai Now.

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