Thursday, May 2, 2024

Legislature passes almost 200 bills, including income tax cut, vacation rental regulation, official shaka gesture, coffee labeling; Maui sues cell phone carriers for Lahaina fire outages, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Lawmakers Give Final Approval To A ‘Historic’ Income Tax Cut In Long Day Of Voting. The tax bill along with nearly 200 other measures, including one that gives counties the authority to regulate short-term vacation rentals, now go to Gov. Josh Green for his consideration. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

Bill aimed at short-term vacation rentals passes. Legislation that would give Hawaii’s counties the authority to fully regulate and to phase out short-term vacation rentals cleared its final floor vote Wednesday in the state Senate. Tribune-Herald.

Legislature passes bill to exempt certain medical services from General Excise Tax.
Senate Bill 1035 SD2 HD1 CD1, introduced by Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye (Senate District 1, Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo), exempts hospitals, infirmaries, medical clinics, health care facilities, pharmacies, and medical and dental providers from General Excise Tax (GET) on goods or services that are reimbursed through Medicaid, Medicare, or TRICARE. Maui Now.

Coffee labeling standards bill gets final approval from Hawaiʻi Legislature. House Bill 2298, introduced by Big Island state Rep. Nicole Lowen, mandates that as of July 1, 2027, any coffee labeled or advertised with a Hawaiʻi geographic origin must consist of at least 51% coffee, by weight, from that region. Kauai Now.

Shaka bill passed
. A proposal making the “Shaka” Hawaii’s official state gesture received final approval Wednesday. KHON2.

Department of the attorney general releases annual firearm registration statistics
. Statewide, a total of 23,528 personal/private firearm permit applications were processed during 2023, marking a 7.5% increase from 21,881 applications processed in 2022. Kauai Now.

Volunteer Firefighters Are Big On The Mainland. Not So Much In Hawaii. The ability of fire departments to muster extra help during major wildfires is a critical issue for the state as it grapples with how to prevent another disaster like Lahaina.  Civil Beat.

These energy bills failed to pass this Legislative session, puzzling proponents. Popular measures on energy efficiency and solar permitting died abruptly in their last committees, leading some energy stakeholders to label this session as a letdown.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Kupuna lost nearly $28M to fraud in 2023, FBI reports.
Seniors in Hawaii over 60 years of age lost nearly $28 million last year to fraud schemes targeting older Americans’ money or cryptocurrency, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Star-Advertiser.

Union hotel workers rally to kick-start bargaining. More than 1,500 Unite Here Local 5 union members Rallied Wednesday as they prepare for the possibility of widespread labor disputes with 17 Hawaii hotel contracts covering over 7,000 hotel workers over three islands  set to expire at the end of next month.  Star-Advertiser. KITV4.


Developers And Labor Unions Are Contributing To Blangiardi’s Reelection Campaign. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi has collected about $90,000 in campaign contributions since the start of the year, bringing his available spending money to about $750,000 as he pursues reelection. Civil Beat.

DOH takes 'unusual step' to reject Navy's Red Hill groundwater sampling plan. The Hawaiʻi Department of Health has rejected the Navy’s Red Hill Consolidated Groundwater Sampling Program and ordered a modified version to be implemented instead. Hawaii Public Radio.

Ocean safety lifeguards want their own department, but don’t want the mayor to appoint their leader. Lifeguards told a Honolulu City Council committee that they want a commission to pick the leader for a new department -- and that’s something that has to go before voters. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Red light cameras at intersections on Oahu could soon also enforce speeding. For the first time since 2002, speed limits in Hawaii could soon be enforced by automated cameras — thanks to a bill easily approved by both House and Senate on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaiian monk seal Kaiwi gives birth at Kaimana Beach again. This is the third time Kaiwi has given birth at the popular beach in Waikiki, and federal, state and county agencies are urging the public to maintain a distance from mom and pup as they nurse along the shoreline. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

County Council takes up 2 measures supporting project to mitigate wildfire risk in North Hawai‘i. The Hawai‘i County Council on Wednesday during a regular session meeting took up two measures in support of mitigating the risk of wildfires in North Hawai‘i, specifically in and around communities that were affected by the Māna Road Fire. Big Island Now.

Council bill could change make-up of planning commissions.
A county bill under consideration by a council committee over the last two weeks would require that the Windward and Leeward planning commissions include at least one member with experience or expertise in Native Hawaiian traditions, customary practices, land usage and law. Tribune-Herald.

Hilo woman cited for feeding cats in park where nēnē gosling was found dead. Doreen Torres, 66, was issued two citations for violating state endangered and threatened species laws, which prohibit the feeding of protected wildlife, since nēnē may eat the cat food. Big Island Now.

Harsher fines proposed for owners of barking dogs.  The proposed increases would raise the fine for a first offense from $25 to $50; from $75 to $100 for a second violation; from $100 to $200 for a third; and from $200 to $400 for any subsequent offense. Tribune-Herald.

North Kona Water Restriction Downgraded After Well Repair. The Hualālai Deepwell has been repaired and returned to service, which means certain Kona customers are back to a voluntary 10% Water Conservation Notice. Big Island Video News.

Permitting process to harvest Kapāpala koa trees for canoes gets approval. More than 30 years ago, the state set aside about 1,200 acres on the southeastern slopes of Maunaloa to serve as a sustainable source of koa for constructing canoes. Hawaii Public Radio.


Maui County Sues Cell Phone Carriers For Lahaina Fire Outages. Maui County filed a lawsuit against four telecommunications giants Wednesday alleging that the companies failed to notify 911 dispatchers about a cell phone service blackout that hampered the government’s wildfire response in Lahaina’s hardest-hit neighborhoods last year. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Maui Now.  KHON2.

Maui County files eminent domain complaint against Komar Maui Properties for landfill expansion. The Maui County Department of Environmental Management filed a complaint Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court for condemnation of nearly 20 acres of former quarry land next to the Central Maui Landfill in Puʻunēnē. Maui Now.

Maui United Way approves $150K in emergency funding to address unmet food needs for wildfire impacted families. Maui United Way has stepped in to provide emergency stop-gap funding to a hui of organizations led by Common Ground Collective (CGC) dedicated to feeding vulnerable fire-impacted families on Maui’s West Side while also providing a boost to local farmers. Maui Now.

Air Force offers first interview on proposal to build up to 7 telescopes on Haleakala. As a plan to build up to seven new telescopes on Haleakala faces mounting opposition, the Department of the Air Force on Wednesday offered its first interview to discuss the controversial proposal. KITV4.

New Kaiser Permanente Lahaina Clinic marks official opening with Ho‘ola.
Kaiser Permanente physicians, nurses, staff, Maui community partners stakeholders, and local dignitaries gathered on the grounds of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort to celebrate the new 5,200-square-foot Lahaina Clinic.  Maui News.


State investigating amid reports cruise ship sailed too close to Kauai’s Na Pali Coast.
Kauai community advocates said the ship appeared to be in very shallow water and about 1,000 feet offshore. Hawaii News Now.

Wastewater spill reported following failure of Coco Palms sewer pump station. A failure of a critical pump controller at the Wailua Coco Palms sewer pump station on Tuesday resulted in a wastewater spill of about 6,000 gallons. Kauai Now.

New North Shore school getting closer to opening.
The school purchased a permanent site in Kilauea last year, and is currently is in the initial phase of its campus development. Garden Island.

Biodiesel sunflowers are coming to Kaumakani.
The project is a multi-year agreement between Pacific Biodiesel and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory that will demonstrate renewable biofuel produced in Hawai‘i from multiple locally grown oilseed cover crops, and the effort will strengthen Hawai‘i’s food security, energy security and supply chain resiliency. Garden Island.

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