Friday, March 8, 2024

House passes $11.3B state budget that devotes $1B to Maui wildfire losses, DOE steps up construction projects to encumber funding, last known Pearl Harbor attack survivor laid to rest, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

$11.3B state budget advances with a focus on Maui recovery.  Finance Chair Rep. Kyle Yamashita explained that the committee tried to balance funding both Maui recovery and important state functions, with about $1 billion going to Maui wildfire costs. Hawaii Public Radio.

Details on the proposed state budget, HB1800, can be found here.

DOE Says It Can Step Up Spending To Save Construction Projects. The Department of Education is planning to significantly increase its spending on construction in the next three and a half months in an effort to reduce the amount of funding it is set to lose at the end of June because of delays in getting projects off the ground. Civil Beat.

Hawaii students’ learning loss from COVID may cut wages 3.7% lifetime. The learning loss that Hawaii students suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to lower their lifetime earnings by an average of 3.7%, spurring a 1.2% loss in Hawaii’s gross domestic product, or $31.3 billion in present value, according to a new report by the Hoover Institution of Stanford University released Thursday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Feds seized more than $6 million in Hawaii in ’23
. The U.S. Department of Justice more than tripled the amount of money collected through criminal and civil actions by adding $6.64 million to government coffers in fiscal year 2023. Star-Advertiser.

Changes To Hawaii’s Home Battery Program Could Hinder Its Clean Energy Transition. A revision in how much homeowners are paid for the electricity they send to the grid could keep them from participating at all. Civil Beat.

Catastrophes are driving up condo insurance rates in Hawaii and nationwide. A ripple effect across the country is showing up in the condo fees for nearly 200,000 Hawaii residents, and experts say catastrophes are driving up their insurance rates. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Human Services Director Stepping Down In May.  Cathy Betts, director of the Hawaii Department of Human Services is leaving her post to become executive director of the Hawaii State Bar Association. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s last Pearl Harbor survivor laid to rest. Sterling Robert Cale, 102, the last known Pearl Harbor attack survivor living in Hawaii was laid to rest Thursday alongside his late wife at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe. Star-Advertiser.

Deaths of young dolphin, humpback calf highlight importance of responsible boating in Hawaiʻi waters. Within the span of just a few weeks in February, a Hawaiian spinner dolphin yearling and humpback whale calf stranded dead in Hawaiʻi, both suffering injuries consistent with being struck by a vessel. Big Island Now.


University of Hawaii housing repair plans axed, records show
. University of Hawaii officials trying to learn how the Hale Noelani student housing complex ended up shuttered for seven years have discovered that although some top UH leaders have said they regret being unaware too long of its closure, preliminary work and permit applications actually were initiated and later canceled by the student-housing program in the past few years. Star-Advertiser.

 Honolulu City Council checks on improvements to building permit process.
Inadequate staffing, onerous regulations, manual procedures, and outdated technology. On Thursday, the Honolulu City Council focused on the city's backlog problem at the Department of Planning and Permitting. KITV4.

Navy Says Indications Of Petroleum In Pearl Harbor Water May Be ‘False Positives’. More than two years after fuel contaminated Pearl Harbor’s drinking water, residents remain at odds with the Navy about whether the water is clean. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Malfunction sends eastbound Skyline train in the wrong direction. More than 30 passengers heading into town suddenly found themselves going backward. The City’s Transportation Services Director Roger Morton said this was the programmed response for the rail system. KHON2. KITV4.

Bill to bolster native fish hatchery would help keiki 'bring the ʻanae back to Waiʻanae'
. Hawaiʻi lawmakers have advanced a measure to bolster a native fish hatchery program in Waiʻanae that would produce pua, or juvenile mullet, for fishponds and stock enhancement. Hawaii Public Radio

State-run health care center opens in Iwilei.
Located in an industrial area of downtown Honolulu where homeless people live in tents or shacklike structures erected on city sidewalks, the stand-alone Behavioral Health Crisis Center  at 806 Iwilei Road will provide short-term “compassionate mental health care," according to the state Department of Health. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

No decision on Punalu‘u Village. Dozens testified before the Windward Planning Commission, which met to decide whether to grant a special management area permit to developer Black Sand Beach LLC. The permit would allow Black Sand Beach to build a roughly 225-unit “residential and commercial community,” called Punalu‘u Village, on a 147-acre parcel. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.

Downtown Hilo roadwork nears completion. Excavation and reconstruction of sections of Kilauea Avenue and Keawe Street in downtown Hilo are set to be complete at the end of next week.  Tribune-Herald.

Snow Covers Hawaiʻi Summits As Winter Weather Advisory Continues. Rangers reported the road to the summit of Maunakea was closed at the mid-level Visitor Information Station, due to snow and icy roads causing hazardous driving conditions. Big Island Video News.


Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority discusses Maui marketing plan amid lower visitor numbers. The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority is mapping out its marketing plan to deal with softening visitor numbers since the wildfires. That includes a campaign to welcome visitors back to the Valley Isle — Mākaukau Maui. Hawaii Public Radio.

Attorneys claim new evidence in search for spark that set off Lahaina inferno. Maui attorneys representing wildfire survivors are sharing new details of how they believe the fire started last August. One of the attorneys is a victim himself. Hawaii News Now.

Maui releases trove of emails offering new insight into wildfire response. After six months of submitting records requests, HNN Investigates finally obtained hundreds of emails belonging to the former head of Maui County’s Emergency Management Agency Herman Andaya during a key period. Hawaii News Now.

Maui Office of Recovery announces interim housing projects for Lahaina wildfire survivors.
Mayor Richard Bissen and officials from the County’s Office of Recovery announced temporary modular home group housing projects being planned in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State of Hawaiʻi and private developers to provide an estimated 4,000 interim housing units for wildfire survivors. Maui Now.

Preliminary data shows impacts of wildfire on Lahaina coastal waters. Preliminary data on coastal water quality monitoring in West Maui was presented Wednesday at a public speaker series featuring Andrea Kealoha, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Oceanography at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Maui Now.


Hanalei nonprofit wants to transform former church into housing for teachers, lifeguards. A nonprofit organization has taken possession of the Church of Latter Day Saints ward in Hanalei – and it has big plans for the three-quarter-acre plot on the North Shore of Kaua‘i. Kauai Now.

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