Friday, April 26, 2024

HECO bailout bill stalls, utility seeks to divest itself of American Savings Bank; Legislature finds $1B for Maui wildfire recovery; Blangiardi heads to Washington in search of homeless funding, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

HECO’s Bill To Raise Money From Customers For Wildfire Mitigation Has Stalled. The utility wanted to add a fee of up to 5% to customers' bills to finance the program, but a key Senator balked. The governor has stepped in to try to save it. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio.

Report: Hawaiian Electric Is Looking To Sell American Savings Bank. The report comes as alternative efforts to raise cash have stalled in the Legislature. Civil Beat.

About $1B arranged for Maui wildfire expenses. Lawmakers Vote To Provide More Than $800M In New Recovery Money For Maui on top of $200 million committed by Gov. Josh Green.  Members of the House and Senate also agreed to create a new position for a state fire marshal to promote fire safety. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Maui Now.

Hawaii legislators face deadline to avoid repeat of ‘chaos’. House and Senate legislators negotiating changes are under pressure to approve final bills by 6 p.m. tonight to avoid what Senate President Ron Kouchi called “the chaos” that surrounded the end of 2023’s session. The 2024 Legislature adjourns in a week, on May 3. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii taxpayers will cough up $18M for state workers’ mistakes, misbehavior. Hawaii taxpayers are on the hook for more than $18 million this year to settle lawsuits filed by dozens of people and companies. Lawmakers, frustrated over repeated failures, did try to make some departments pay the cash themselves. Hawaii News Now.

State lawmakers close to increasing penalties on dog attacks. There could be tougher penalties for dog owners if their dog seriously bites or attacks a person, lawmakers say stricter laws are needed as communities have been dealing with severe, even deadly attacks.  KHON2.

Bill Aims To Reduce Unauthorized Hunting In Hawaii. The legislative proposal would make hunting guides obtain written permission from landowners before leading tours on private lands. Civil Beat.

AAA: Hawaiʻi gas prices continue to increase.  Gas prices statewide continue to increase slowly, according to the AAA Hawaiʻi Weekend Gas Watch. The statewide average price for regular unleaded is $4.81, three cents higher than last week. The national average gas price is $3.66, one cent lower than last week. Maui Now.

Hawaii restaurant inspection reports not easily available: ‘That’s a problem’. There have been at least seven red placards issued to local restaurants since 2024 began but there is no easy way to access the inspection reports that prompted them. KHON2.


Mayor Blangiardi heads to Washington, D.C. to advocate for more homeless funding. Mayor Rick Blangiardi leaves Friday for Washington D.C. To meet with officials from the Biden administration where he’s expected to ask for more federal funding to help tackle homelessness in Honolulu. KHON2.

HART receives $125M in federal funding.
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation on Thursday announced $125 million in long-awaited federal funding to aid in the ongoing construction of the nearly $10 billion Skyline project. Star-Advertiser.

Skyline fleet is now complete with delivery of 20th train.
All 20 trains for the Honolulu rail, officially called Skyline, are now on Oʻahu. The final train arrived at Honolulu Harbor on Wednesday.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Navy: Recent Elevated Petroleum Levels In Pearl Harbor Water Are False Positives. Chlorine in water samples skewed the results, the Navy says. Residents fear their drinking water remains unsafe. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Hawaii News Now.

Officials meet, discuss Makua Valley military training sites. U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda joined community members Thursday in tours and meetings with officials at military sites on Oahu’s Leeward side.  Star-Advertiser.

Defense paints key witness in Kaneshiro bribery trial as a liar.  Retired HPD officer Rudy Alivado was back on the stand Wednesday for cross-examination in the high-profile bribery trial involving Honolulu’s former city prosecutor and employees of a politically-connected engineering firm. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Developer testifies why he sued lot owner over HPP house mistake. Paul Fujinaga, partners with John Mendonca in Keaau Development Partnership, said that no surveyor was brought in to ensure that the contractor, PJ’s Construction, built the house on the one-acre lot on 8th Avenue owned by the developer instead of on the adjoining vacant parcel owned by Annaleine “Anne” Reynolds. Tribune-Herald.


Maui Strong Fund Providing $40M To Help House Fire Survivors.
The Hawaii Community Foundation is providing a $40 million grant through its Maui Strong Fund to support construction of the state’s $115 million, 450-unit Ka La’i Ola interim housing development for fire survivors, the foundation announced Thursday. Civil Beat.

Lahaina Seniors Wanted A Normal Year. The Fires Changed Everything.
Students at Lahainaluna High School say they're searching for normalcy after the pandemic moved their freshman year online and the fires disrupted their senior year. Civil Beat.


Kauai homeowners sue home construction company over alleged construction defects. Christie Volkmer bought a newly-built home on Kauai from D.R. Horton in 2018. Two years later, she and her family noticed something wrong with their water system. KITV4.

Volunteers sought to cleanup Morgan’s Ponds. The County of Kaua‘i Department of Parks and Recreation opened Lydgate Beach Park and the Kamalani Playground area to the public on Thursday. Garden Island.

Pacific Biodiesel plants its first Kauaʻi sunflower field, modeled after Maui’s. While Pacific Biodiesel is headquartered on Maui, it has nearly 100 employees statewide, including 50 who work at its biodiesel refinery on Hawaiʻi Island. Maui Now.

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