Showing posts with label Hawaiian Electric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawaiian Electric. Show all posts

Monday, May 6, 2024

Hawaii governor signs vacation rental bill, same-sex marriage amendment heads to November ballot, Legislature wraps up 60-day session, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii’s ‘historic’ 2024 legislative session comes to a close. Hawaii lawmakers wrapped up the 32nd biennial legislative session Friday in largely ceremonial fashion that included a traditional display of unity, but also cast final votes on a few momentous bills. Star-Advertiser.  Big Island Now.

Legislative session began amid uncertainty, ended with relief for Maui and taxpayers. The Hawaii legislative session began Jan. 17 clouded in unknowns over how much money would be available overall, how much could be spent to help Maui recover from the Aug. 8 wildfires, and concerns that lawmakers would have to tap into the state’s so-called rainy day fund to meet Hawaii’s needs. Star-Advertiser.

How major bills fared at the Capitol. Here is the status of major bills following the end of the 60-day Hawaii legislative session on Friday.  Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Josh Green signs vacation rental bill into law.  Gov. Josh Green on Friday made good on his promise and signed a bill into law that gives counties the ability to better regulate short-term vacation rentals in the hope of freeing up affordable, long-term housing for island residents. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Video News. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4. Tribune-Herald.

Lessons For Hawaii: Other States Have Strong Pay-To-Play Laws
. Experts say regulating contractor donations along with publicly financed elections could go a long way to taming corruption. Civil Beat.

Voters could repeal Legislature’s authority on same-sex marriage. An amendment to repeal the Legislature’s authority to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples will be on the November ballot.  KHON2.

Hawaii Has Been Debating Marijuana Legalization For Half A Century. Lawmakers have been vacillating over how to handle weed consumption in the islands since the late 1960s. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Legislature OKs $18M for claims against state. Crimes committed by state employees, accidents on public property and a couple Second Amendment challenges are contributing to settlements, judgments and other legal claims this year to cost Hawaii taxpayers $18.1 million. Star-Advertiser.

Water Safety Coalition’s bills sent to governor. The measures — one that designates May 15 as Water Safety Day in the state each year and another that authorizes the issuance of Duke Kahanamoku license plates, with revenue from the plates being dedicated to water safety educational programs — are now on Gov. Josh Green’s desk, pending his signature.  Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Execs Got Big Raises In 2023. They’re About To See How Shareholders Feel About It. A vote on compensation and reelection of board members is set for May 13. Civil Beat.

Hawaii traffic fatalities in 2024 on pace with last year. From Jan. 1 to April 30, there were 33 traffic-related deaths, compared with 33 during the same period in 2023, according to preliminary statistics from DOT. Star-Advertiser.


Staff shortages plague Honolulu’s 911 system. HPD Maj. Calvin Sung of the communications division said if the system is busy, callers should keep calling back. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu first responders alter operations for planned power shutoffs. Police, firefighters, paramedics and emergency management officials on Oahu are modifying operations to prepare for the possibility that Hawaiian Electric must shut off power to reduce wildfire risks. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Got Back $441,000 From Aloha Stadium Consultant. An audit, spurred by a Civil Beat investigation, is leading to policy changes at the Department of Accounting and General Services. A consultant for Aloha Stadium has reimbursed the state more than $441,000 after an audit last year found that the firm charged the state for exorbitant travel expenses and excessive costs. Civil Beat.

Nurse’s aide fined over $300,000 for running unlicensed care home. The health department has fined a certified nurse aide $315,000 for running an unlicensed care home in Ewa Beach. Complaints led inspectors to a Muiona Street home where they say Nenita Mauricio of “Private Home Duty LLC” admitted to operating the unlicensed facility for nearly a year. Hawaii News Now.

North Shore seeing ‘advanced infestation’ of coconut rhinoceros beetle, experts on what to do. From Mokuleia to Laniakea, to Pupukea, and from Ke Iki to Sunset Beach, if you look up you’ll see palms with only a few fronds, some with none, and some looking sick or oddly shaped.  KHON2.

Hawaii Island

National Science Foundation to discuss possible funding for TMT. NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said a panel will visit the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea and the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile and evaluate them on a series of topics including their current progress, partnerships, risks and risk mitigation, governance, opportunities for access by early-career scientists, how well the project complements the European Southern Observatory’s Chilean Extremely Large Telescope, and public engagement. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park areas reopen as tremors subside. Kilauea volcano’s recent seismic rumblings have quieted down, leading Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials today to reopen several areas that have been closed in the past week as a precaution. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.

Proposed Punalu‘u Village goes before Planning Commission Monday. Punalu‘u Village is a “residential and commercial community” proposed to be built on a 147-acre parcel in Punalu‘u, restoring several disused buildings and attractions in the process. If built, the project would add nearly 300 accommodation units to the rural community, as well as a market space, golf course, restaurant and more. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Hawaiʻi County Council to consider preserving 27 acres near ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay. A Hawaiʻi County Council committee has advanced plans to help preserve 27 acres of land on the south end of ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay near the Waikoloa Beach Resort. Hawaii Public Radio.

Parks and Rec, DLNR work to address issue of cat colonies at park where nene died. State and county agencies are moving forward to address feral cat feeding and its effects on the nene population. Tribune-Herald.

Removal of UH-Hilo newspaper causes flap. An administrator at the University of Hawaii at Hilo admitted to ordering the removal of the student-run campus newspaper from a rack at an April 20 event welcoming prospective students and their parents to the campus. Tribune-Herald.


Ohana Hope Village Is Finally Opening To Maui Fire Survivors.
Access to water is still in flux, but the Maui modular home housing project now has county approval to open 16 of 88 units. Civil Beat.

45th Maui Charity Walk raises over $1.2 million for the eighth year. Nearly 1,600 walkers attended the in-person event at the War Memorial Complex.  Maui Now.

Young Brothers blesses $1.5M mooring system to improve service for Lānaʻi. Hawai‘i interisland freight company Young Brothers blessed its new $1.5 million ShoreTension mooring system on Monday at the Port of Kaumalapau on Lāna‘i. The system keeps the barge steady against the dock during poor weather conditions. Maui Now.


Kauai County officials warn flood victims might not get FEMA federal assistance. More than 12 inches of rain pummeled parts of the Garden Island in a few hours overnight on April 12. Hawaii News Now.

Kaua‘i County data shows recent decline in lifeguard rescues. Recent data from the County of Kaua’i Ocean Safety Bureau indicates a decline in aquatic rescues this year following the department’s announcement of the extension of operating hours at lifeguarded beaches. Kauai Now.

St. Catherine School shutting down next month; it’s served Kaua‘i families since 1946. St. Catherine School, a Catholic elementary school in Kapa‘a on the East Side of Kaua‘i, is shutting down this June after 78 years in operation – despite parents’ last-ditch efforts to save it earlier this spring. Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.

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.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

HECO faces $5B in potential lawsuit liabilities, AG report cites lack of communication in Lahaina wildfire, military in battle for land lease renewal, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The Days Of The Army Leasing Land In Hawaii For $1 Are Likely Over. A recent Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting included a measure that would have let the state appraise close to 30,000 acres of land to recalibrate the Army’s rent across Oahu and Big Island. Those leases were signed in 1964 for $1 and expire in 2029. Civil Beat.

Analysts share how the Maui fire reports could affect HECO's future. Hawaiian Electric could face close to $5 billion in potential liabilities from lawsuits filed over the fires, according to Capstone, a consulting firm that studies utilities under stress for its investor clients.  Hawaii Public Radio.

AG’s Report Shows Lack Of Communication Prevented Help For People Trapped In Lahaina Fire.
The Attorney General's much-anticipated report provides new insight into the fire response but does not address the cause of the fire. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Hawaii Public Radio. Associated Press.  Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

‘Good government’ bills headed to Green’s desk. The full House on Wednesday sent 10 “good government” bills, as it called them, to Gov. Josh Green — but none will lead to any sweeping ethics, campaign spending or other reforms to change the way the Legislature does business. Star-Advertiser.

Senate Confirms Green’s Nominees To Board of Education. Former state Rep. Roy Takumi will now lead the volunteer board tasked with setting policy and overseeing Hawaii's public school system. Civil Beat.


Rail Chief’s Lastest Evaluation Raises Questions About Whether She Has A Future With Rail. HART CEO Lori Kahikina's annual evaluation was quite critical, citing a lack of progress in filling key positions and "limited transparency" with the rail board of directors. Civil Beat.

Proposals to prevent another big pay hike move forward at city council. Several proposals are moving ahead at the Honolulu City Council that could change how — and how big — salary increases are made for city employees, including council members themselves. Hawaii News Now.

Fireworks sparklers, fountains to make a comeback? Honolulu City Council bill pushes to lift ban. For the last 14 years, ground fireworks have been banned on Oahu. KHON2.

$250,000 Settlement Approved For Honolulu Police Detective. HPD Detective Maile Rego sued in 2021, claiming she suffered retaliation after accusing the department of failing to issue a timely Amber Alert. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Fateful Car Wreck Takes Center Stage At Miske Trial As Alleged Murder Victim’s Girlfriend Testifies. Michael Miske is accused of conspiring to kidnap and kill Johnathan Fraser in 2016. Fraser disappeared in July of that year, and his body has never been found. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu mayor signs bill raising legal age to buy herbal cigarettes. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi has signed a city bill banning the sale of herbal cigarettes to anyone under 21 years old. Hawaii Public Radio.

Ocean Safety sector draws support, criticism. Those for and against contending city resolutions to transform Honolulu’s 277-member Ocean Safety Division into a full-fledged city department voiced their concerns during the City Council’s meeting Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Safe & Sound Waikiki program sees major reduction in crime. Crime in most categories, including violent ones, has dropped by double digits in Waikiki since Safe & Sound Waikiki started 18 months ago to address community concerns over mounting criminal activity and increased homelessness. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Another blackouts warning from HECO; lawmakers seek investigation. Hawaiian Electric again is urging Hawaii Island customers to conserve energy this evening to avoid power outages. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

FBI searches 2 locations in Kona; investigation underway. Early Wednesday morning, FBI agents conducted search warrants at two different locations in Kailua-Kona. It is unknown what the warrants were for or if any arrests were made. Big Island Now.

Hawaiʻi County Council lends financial support to upcoming Hala Festival 2024, other community initiatives. The festival wasn’t the only community event, program or project that got a boost Wednesday. Big Island Now.

Public Meeting On Proposed Pāhoa Library, Transit Hub Location. The meeting is being held to discuss the findings of the Draft Environmental Assessment for the library and transit hub, and offer an opportunity for feedback. Big Island Video News.


Komar Maui Properties files for injunction against Maui County eminent domain action. An affiliate of Komar Investments on Wednesday filed a complaint in Federal District Court for declaratory and injunctive relief against Maui County’s impending eminent domain action for acquisition of a 20-acre parcel next to the Central Maui Landfill in Puʻunēnē.  Maui Now.

The Maui Ethics Board Has So Few Members That It’s Struggling To Even Meet. Members are seeking additional funding and dedicated staff so they can more effectively do their job. Civil Beat.

PFAS detected in Maui Business Park system
. PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been detected in water samples collected at the Waiʻele Wells 1 and 2 Chlorinator, Maui Business Park water system (Public Water System HI0000261, owned by Maui Business Park Phase II Association) in Kahului of the island of Maui. Maui Now.


Kauai County says weekend flooding caused significant damage to 157 houses. Kauai property owners who are impacted may qualify for government aid. Hawaii News Now.

Playground construction, ADA renovations scheduled at Waimea Athletic Field. The playground, skateboard half-pipe, ADA parking stalls and ADA walkway near Kaumuali‘i Highway will be closed from April 29 to June 1, weather permitting. Kauai Now.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Uncertain future for vacation rental bill, first trial date set in Lahaina wildfire lawsuit cases, university gets onslaught of emails from one state senator, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Emails Reveal A State Senator’s Unrelenting Demands On The University Of Hawaii. Donna Mercado Kim continually sends requests for detailed responses about a range of issues, from anonymous complaints to spending concerns. Civil Beat.

Vacation rental bill is headed to uncertainty.  SB 2919 wold ensure that each county has the power to regulate short-term rentals — including banning them. The Senate on Thursday disagreed with changes made in the House, meaning the bill likely will head to an end-of-session conference committee where anything can happen, including killing it if no compromise can be reached in the remaining three weeks. Star-Advertiser.

Regulation of vacation rentals varies among counties. Here's how. Star-Advertiser.

Cockfighting bill dies in Senate. While cockfighting already is illegal in Hawaii, House Bill 1980 would increase the severity of the offense from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000. Tribune-Herald.

Macadamia nut labeling legislation in limbo. Consumers don’t know whether many macadamia nut snacks identified with Hawaii contain any Hawaii-­grown macadamia nuts, and an effort to change that through state law may be doomed this year. Star-Advertiser.

Needs are high in the state for people to donate their time. Hawaii is ranked low, 45th out of 50 states, for volunteerism in the latest United Health Foundation America’s Health Ranking analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.  Star-Advertiser.


Honolulu’s Short-Term Rental Owners Will Pay Higher Property Taxes Soon. Short-term rental owners in Honolulu will start paying higher property taxes next fiscal year, but it’s up to the City Council to decide how much. Civil Beat.

About 2,200 Hawaii Kai and East Honolulu customers face loss of power for most of Monday.  The company said the outage was caused by damage to one of the main transmission lines that bring power across the Koolau mountains into the Hawaii Kai/East Honolulu area.  Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Kamehameha Highway Just Got $5M To Guard Against Rising Seas. It Will Need Much More. There are tough decisions ahead when it comes to planning for the future of the critical road connecting Windward communities. Civil Beat.

Working Group Will Address Lead Contamination At Marine Shooting Range. Hawaii lawmakers have ordered the formation of a new working group to discuss lead contamination in the air and water around a Marine Corps’ shooting range in Ewa Beach.  Civil Beat.

Chief lifeguard ‘stoked’ over potential new department. As chief of Honolulu’s 277-member Ocean Safety Division, John Titchen says his agency’s possible transformation into a full-fledged city department is a long time coming. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Humane Society sees unprecedented number of shelter dogs due to families leaving Hawaii. More than 250 dogs are currently available for adoption at Hawaiian Humane Society due to a shelter space crisis that has been increasing overcrowded kennels. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Slow spring for real estate? Interest rates continue to put pressure on home sales. According to multiple listing service data, 477 homes have been sold on the island this year as of the end of March, a 10% increase from the first three months of 2023. Tribune-Herald.

Generator shortfall results in rolling blackouts on Hawai‘i Island. Hawaiian Electric is conducting rolling outages that will last between 30 minutes to an hour due to a generator shortfall. Big Island Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Resistance to roundabout: Draft EA released for proposed Waikoloa Village project. The public comment period addressing the draft environmental assessment for the Waikoloa Road/Paniolo Avenue roundabout concluded Monday, with community members expressing concern over the finding of no significant impact recommended in the report. West Hawaii Today.

Third Hawaiʻi Sustainability Summit Set For Kona, May 3-4. Hawai‘i County is calling community leaders to attend the Third Hawaiʻi Sustainability Summit.  Big Island Video News.

Former Big Island Lawmaker Wayne Metcalf Dead At 71. He was a former Hawaii State Insurance Commissioner during the Cayetano administration who also served as Hilo’s state representative from 1984-1992 and as senator from 1997-1998. Civil Beat.


Lahaina wildfire cases could get a trial date as soon as Nov. 18. Parties to cases involving the Lahaina wildfire disaster could see their first trial date as soon as Nov. 18, 2024 before Judge Peter Cahill. The date was set during a status conference held Friday before a room full of attorneys representing various interests in the case.  Maui Now.

BLNR successful in its appeal in East Maui water case.
The Hawaiʻi Board of Land and Natural Resources, as represented by the Department of the Attorney General, prevailed on appeal in a case regarding the continuation of revocable permits for the diversion of water from streams in East Maui to Central and Upcountry Maui. Maui Now.

Maui’s Recent Wildfires Convinced The County Council That The Emergency Budget Needs Beefing Up. The Maui County Council signaled last week that it wants more resources for Maui’s fire and emergency management agencies in the aftermath of last year’s devastating fires.  Civil Beat.

Maui County Has Been So Slow To Come Up With A Plan To Help People Rebuild In Lahaina That A State Lawmaker Is Doing It Instead. Hearing continual frustration from Lahaina constituents about what they call a lack of clear direction from Maui County government on when they can rebuild their homes, Maui Rep. Elle Cochran is creating a coalition of contractors, architects, suppliers and other building professionals to guide people who have questions.  Civil Beat.

Maui wildfire relief resources: Federal assistance surpasses $347M. Since wildfires swept over the Island of Maui Aug. 8, more than $347.8 million in federal assistance has been approved for 7,090 households. Maui Now.

Coastal waters off Lahaina are now confirmed safe for recreational use. The Surfrider Foundation Maui chapter just released a report from its Post-Fires Water Quality Monitoring Program — and results indicate no cause for concern. Hawaii Public Radio.

Mobile ministry takes its support directly to the unsheltered.  Church volunteers on Maui who have operated a van since 2014 to distribute food and supplies to the homeless have seen the number of unsheltered people more than double since the catastrophic wildfires. Star-Advertiser.


County assesses damage in aftermath of thunderstorm. A second storm moved through the island of Kaua‘i on Sunday, adding to the mess created from an earlier hydrological event that wreaked havoc on local roads and properties. Garden Island.

Storm brings damages to Kaua‘i including a drill rig on the mauka Wailua River Bridge rail. State crews continue their work to remove a drill rig after it fell onto the mauka Wailua River Bridge rail following heavy rains that brought flooding to several parts of Kaua‘i. Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Bill allowing HECO to charge customers for wildfire mitigation advances in House, marijuana decriminalization bill remains alive, Big Island committee nixes council term extensions, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Key House Committee Approves Bill To Charge HECO Customers To Mitigate Wildfire Risk. Hawaiian Electric Co. executives want an extra fee of up to 5% added to electric bills to develop and implement a wildfire prevention plan. Civil Beat.

HECO now faces 131 legal complaints related to Maui fires. The August wildfires have now spawned 131 legal complaints against Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and its subsidiary, Maui Electric Company (MECO).  KITV4.

Marijuana decriminalization bill runs into opposition, remains alive. While the push to legalize recreational marijuana again appears dead at the state Legislature, a bill remains alive that one lawmaker said would “essentially” have the same effect by allowing a citation and fine of only $25 for having up to 2 ounces of cannabis — or 100 to 120 joints. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Hawaiʻi Allows Pre-rolled Cannabis Flower Products Under New Rule. Pre-rolled cannabis flower products, also known as “pre-rolls,” can be now produced and dispensed through licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in Hawaiʻi starting on April 5. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now.

Potential heirs of DHHL beneficiaries still learning they could get share of landmark settlement. The clock is ticking to find the relatives of more than 1,200 Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries who died while on the waitlist for a home or farmland. Hawaii News Now.

Early College Can Be ‘Game-Changing’ But Many Students In Hawaii Are Missing Out. Opportunities for high schoolers to earn college credit have been growing in popularity, but Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students are participating at lower rates. Civil Beat.

Drug-use linked to crime, homelessness in the islands. Fentanyl continues to plague communities. Local law enforcement continue making bust after bust but it barely makes a dent. KHON2.

Ship named after renowned veteran. The crest of the newly inaugurated U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Melvin Bell bears a motto — “Signal of Hope” — that encapsulates the legacy of its Hawaii-born namesake who transmitted the first alarms following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Star-Advertiser.


City still seeks more time to find Oahu landfill alternative. The Honolulu Planning Commission on Wednesday continued its months-long hearing over the city’s request for a two-year extension to find an alternate site for the 34-year-old Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Kapolei. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Federal judge unseals fraud complaint against Red Hill contractors over fuel leak. A federal judge has partially unsealed a fraud complaint filed against defense contractors working at the Red Hill fuel facility. But the U.S. Justice Department has opted not to pursue the case. Hawaii Public Radio.

ACLU hopes Supreme Court homeless win helps Honolulu case. The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii hopes its victory before the Hawaii Supreme Court over Maui County homeless sweeps will bolster its case against Honolulu when its lawsuit over Oahu’s homeless policies goes to trial in October. Star-Advertiser.

Former Meadow Gold Dairies property in Honolulu is back up for sale. Meadow Gold closed its facility about four years ago and put its nearly two-acre property – located along Elm and Sheridan Streets near the Walmart store on Keeaumoku Street – up for sale. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Longer council terms rejected following robust criticism. A proposal to extend Hawaii County Council members’ terms in office will not be on the ballot this year after it was roundly rejected Tuesday during a council committee hearing. Tribune-Herald.


Questions swirl over whether wildfire relief aid will pay tab for Maui mayor’s enhanced security. Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen’s enhanced security detail cost approximately $115,000 for a six-week period after the devastating wildfires and  federal relief aid designated for victims could be used to pay for the protection. Hawaii News Now.

Officials reconvene in Lahaina to discuss progress on recovery. Wednesday evening saw the renewal of weekly disaster recovery meetings at the Lahaina Civic Center after a two week break. About 100 residents and 70 online viewers tuned in via the county’s Facebook page, to partake in the near two hour meeting to hear updates on recovery efforts in Lahaina town.  Maui Now.

Wildfire recovery milestone: 500th residential property in Lahaina cleared of debris, hazardous materials. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has cleared the 500th residential property of debris and hazardous materials. Hawaii News Now.

Maui Council Considers More Funding To Fight Invasive Beetles As Part Of Ag Department Budget.
The voter-created department officially launched in mid-2022 to increase food production across the county. Star-Advertiser.

2 Hawaii air carriers compete for subsidized Lanai service. Scott Faulk of the U.S. Department of Transportation EAS & domestic analysis division issued a request for community comments Wednesday, while confirming receipt of proposals from Southern Airways Express LLC, doing business as Mokulele Airlines, and from Pacific Air Charters Inc. Star-Advertiser.


Discrimination Suit Against Kauai Police Chief Dismissed, Captain Forced To Retire. Chief Todd Raybuck was suspended for creating a hostile work environment but an investigation found his hiring practices had been fair. Civil Beat.

Delta flight grounded after bird strike. A Delta Airlines Airbus was grounded in late March after a bird made contact with the aircraft during its arrival in Lihu‘e. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Recreational marijuana bill dies in House committee, fee on electric bills could finance HECO fire prevention, Kauai police chief loses his gun twice, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii bill to legalize recreational marijuana stalls. The latest effort to legalize recreational marijuana for adults appears dead once again after House Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita declined to hold a vote on Senate Bill 3335. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Now. KHON2.

Your Electric Bill Could Be Going Up To Help Pay For Wildfire Prevention Measures. Hawaii lawmakers are considering a new fee to help HECO's fire-fighting plan but there was strong testimony against it. Civil Beat.

Bill aims to exempt private practice physicians from GET. A bill resurrected from last year’s legislative session to exempt medical providers from the state’s general excise tax will be heard today by the House Committee on Finance. West Hawaii Today.

LGBTQ+ support push for same-sex marriage bill. House Bill 2802, which calls for a state constitutional amendment to repeal the Legislature’s authority to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, remains alive as advocates worry about a conservative-­leaning U.S. Supreme Court possibly overturning same-sex marriages across the country. Star-Advertiser.

Bill could remove government powers to limit communication during emergency. Some members of the press say a section of the Hawaii revised Statutes, allowing for the seizing of control of electronic communications in a time of emergency, is out of date. A bill striking those powers is being heard this week. KITV4.

Senate Bill 2575 prohibits deep-sea mining in Hawaii waters. Senate Bill 25-75 aims to protect Hawaii's marine life by prohibiting the removal of rare metals from Hawaii's seafloor with certain exemptions. KITV4.

Lawmakers advance measure to address misinformation and objective reporting. A resolution in the state Senate is asking the Hawaiʻi chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to establish a process to identify ethical and objective sources of news. Hawaii Public Radio.

Push for more homes on smaller lots statewide suffers setback. Three state House committees have eviscerated a bill to increase single-family housing densities statewide after receiving much more negative than positive testimony. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

UH Regents Are Stepping Up The Search For A New President. Public forums are set to begin this month with finalists to be named by September and a new leader announced in October.  Civil Beat.

Deadline Extended To Apply For Vacancy On Hawaii State Ethics Commission. The deadline to submit applications to fill a vacancy on the Hawaii State Ethics Commission has been extended to April 15 from March 22, the Judiciary Council announced Tuesday. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s Deaf Community Is Struggling With Lack Of Certified ASL Interpreters. There are no state-credentialed American Sign Language interpreters living on Kauai, Molokai, Niihau or Lanai. Civil Beat.


Rift emerges on Honolulu Ocean Safety department plan. During the City Council’s Committee on Budget meeting, the proposal to establish, staff, fund and perhaps have public oversight over a larger city lifeguard department caused division between Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration and a few Council members. Star-Advertiser.

‘No aloha’: Council grills head of preservation society opposing hula show venture. Honolulu City Council members put the head of a preservation group on the hot seat for opposing a Hawaiian nonprofit’s effort to pay for its free hula show. Council members are trustees of Kapiolani Park, where the show is offered. Hawaii News Now.

Guilty plea expected in pandemic benefits theft case. A 54-year-old Kunia woman is expected to plead guilty today to federal charges that she stole $52,270 from a pandemic unemployment insurance program using other people’s identities. Star-Advertiser.

‘Cloudy’ tap water stirs concern, but tests show it’s safe to drink. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply says there’s a new timeline to fix cloudy tap water in Mililani Mauka. Officals say the pump that needs to clear air bubbles from the lines will take two months to get here. Hawaii News Now.

Queen’s completes purchase of Wahiawa General Hospital. The Queen’s Health System is now the owner of the Wahiawa General Hospital, the purchase was finalized on Tuesday. Hospital officials said the facility will be closed for services but they are prioritizing reopening the emergency room by the summer. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Hawaiʻi Island Beekeeping To Expand Under New Council Bill.
A bill that would remove some of the existing barriers to beekeeping on the Big Island was heard by the Hawaiʻi County Council’s Policy Committee on Health, Safety, and Well-being on Tuesday.  Big Island Video News.

Hawaii Island’s ‘cryptic’ potential name change explained. The Hawaiʻi Board of Geographic Names is mulling alternatives. A decision on the naming was not made on Tuesday, the two main options are still Hawaiʻi and Hawaiʻi Island. KHON2.

How one Hawaiʻi Island teacher is setting an example for AI in classrooms. To speed up the work, Anderson-Moxley, who is a teacher at West Hawaii Explorations Academy, launched an artificial intelligence tool called Roborubrics this year.  Hawaii Public Radio.

No tickets required this year for Hō‘ike, donations encouraged at event to help those impacted by Lāhainā fire. The hula exhibition and folk dance from across the Pacific takes place tonight at 6 p.m., a day before the three-night competition commences. Big Island Now.

Big Island author talks new novel about Maunakea. The Conversation thought it would be a good time to talk to Big Island author Tom Peek about his new novel, "Mauna Kea: A Novel of Hawaiʻi."  Hawaii Public Radio.


Maui Budget Earmarks $2.6 Million For Lahaina Wastewater Permit. One line item in particular in the Department of Environmental Management’s proposed budget triggered questions over $2.6 million in proposed funding for preparation of a federal Clean Water Act permit for treatment of Lahaina’s wastewater. Civil Beat.

Mayor Bissen’s Weekly Disaster Recovery Community Update Meetings resume Wednesday in Lahaina. Officials from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Environmental Protection Agency will offer current information on Lahaina debris removal during this week’s meeting. Maui Now.

COFA citizens can now apply for FEMA disaster assistance
. Citizens of the Freely Associated States, collectively known as COFA citizens, whose primary residences on Maui were affected by the August wildfires and high winds may now apply for FEMA disaster assistance, according to a press release from FEMA.  Maui News. Maui Now.


Kauai police chief could face disciplinary action after losing his firearm a second time.
According to a complaint filed with the Kauai Police Commission, Chief Todd Raybuck seems to be making a habit out of leaving his service weapon in the same stall of the same restroom. Hawaii News Now.

‘Death threat’ investigation against Kaua‘i councilman remains ongoing. Kaua‘i County Councilmember Bill DeCosta remains on administrative leave from his second job at Kapa‘a High School due to an undisclosed January incident that coincided with the local politician receiving an alleged handwritten death threat. Kauai Now.

Visitors spend big in February on Kaua‘i.
Visitor spending broke through the $200 million barrier in February for the second time, in turn setting a new high for the month on the island of Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Emergency zone declared near Kῑkῑaola Boat Harbor.
The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation plans to declare a traffic emergency zone on Kaumuali‘i Highway near mile post 24.4 in in the vicinity of Kῑkῑaola Boat Harbor for emergency culvert repair. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Senate panel faults utilities commission for failing to investigate Maui wildfire cause, EPA completes Red Hill inspection, half of Kauai waters tested show fecal presence, electricity shortage on Big Island, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Lawmakers say PUC 'failed to investigate' causes of Maui wildfires. A resolution put forward by state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz says the Public Utilities Commission has failed to effectively investigate the causes of the August 2023 Maui wildfires. The resolution says that the PUC is bound by law to investigate the causes of any accident related to the operations of Hawaiʻi's utilities "which results in loss of life."  Hawaii Public Radio.

DBEDT establishes Military and Community Relations Office. The Hawai‘i Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism has established a Military and Community Relations Office which will focus on effective collaboration and transparency between the State of Hawai‘i, county governments, the community and the US Department of Defense. Maui Now.

DHHL waitlisters to benefit from new down payment assistance program. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has partnered with homestead nonprofit, Hawaiian Lending & Investments, to provide direct assistance to beneficiaries looking to construct, or purchase, a home on Hawaiian Home Lands. Maui Now. KHON2.


City to pay $12.5M to Makaha crash driver. The city agreed to pay $12.5 million to the driver of a car that crashed in September 2021 in Makaha during a pursuit by Honolulu police officers who allegedly left the scene only to return and act like nothing happened. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Proposed Council raises draw public concern. The Honolulu Salary Commission’s recommendation last week for a 3% or greater pay boost for the mayor, managing director, all nine members of the City Council and other appointed, high-level city officials drew a measure of public criticism Monday. Star-Advertiser.

EPA completes Red Hill inspection, says Navy task force ready to take over shutdown.  The EPA says Joint Task Force Red Hill is ready to let the Navy take over the shutdown of the bulk fuel storage facility. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board discussed East Honolulu beach park closures. Several Hawaii Kai residents showed up at the neighborhood board meeting concerned about the possibility of overnight park closures at all beaches in their area. KITV4.

Model arrested in bribery, obstruction case.
A model was arrested after she tried to bribe a federal agent to help convince a judge to let her boyfriend out of Honolulu’s Federal Detention Center while he awaits trial on ammunition charges. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Hawaiian Electric: ‘Tight supply of electricity’ on the Big Island through April. Company spokeswoman Kristin Okinaka said the energy provider’s largest independent power producer, Hamakua Energy, has gone offline, leaving the power grid with a significant deficit of power. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.  KITV4.

Grassroots group is concerned about high volume of people visiting beaches in Keaukaha. Volunteers with Waiʻuli We Count, a grassroots-led data collection effort, said more  than a million people enjoy the beach parks in the coastal community of Keaukaha on Hawaiʻi Island every year. Hawaii Public Radio.

State Is Moving Ahead With Wailoa Harbor Dredging Project After Receiving Funding.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a news release Monday that it has wanted to dredge the harbor for several years but it didn’t receive funding to do so until last year’s legislative session. The funds were released in January. Civil Beat. Big Island Now.

Hilo Travelers Advised To Plan Ahead For Merrie Monarch Festival. The 61st annual Merrie Monarch Festival will begin on Easter Sunday (March 31) and continue until Saturday, April 6.  Big Island Video News.


Maui Mayor Unveils $1.7 Billion Budget To Help County Navigate ‘Daunting Journey’ Ahead. Mayor Richard Bissen delivered his $1.7 billion proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2025 to the Maui County Council on Monday, a 34% increase over the current budget due to the ongoing recovery from the destructive Aug. 8 fires. Civil Beat. Maui Now.  KITV4.

New Deputy Planning Director named by county. Ana Lillis, a former planner in the Zoning Administration and Enforcement Division, has been named Deputy Director of the County of Maui Department of Planning. Lillis’ official start date is April 1, according to a press release. Maui News.

Waihou Spring Forest Reserve reopens to public following damage from August fires. The damage has kept crews busy at the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife over the last seven months. Hawaii Public Radio. Maui News.

Temporary school called ‘small miracle’ after Lahaina fire. Glancing at the new temporary school on a grassy slope in Pulelehua, Maui, casual onlookers might perceive a simple cluster of boxy modular buildings hurriedly erected in just over three months, but Gov. Josh Green calls the school’s rapid construction “a small miracle” in the wake of a disaster, and he and others also see the beginnings of healing and hope. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.  

Shrine symbolizes healing and unity for Maui students.  It took serious coordination for students from H.P. Baldwin High School and King Kekaulike High School to lift and carry a “mikoshi,” or portable shrine, on their shoulders through the streets of Waikiki as part of the recent Honolulu Festival’s Grand Parade. Star-Advertiser.

FEMA Gave This Family A House In The Lahaina Burn Zone. Then They Found Out It Might Not Be Safe. Randy Dadez says the agency moved his family into a house that Maui County's map clearly shows lacks clean water. Civil Beat.

Bidding price expected to take centerstage as companies vie for rural air service contract. Multiple airlines are bidding for the federal contract to provide service to one of Hawaii’s rural communities. Hawaii News Now.


Half of Kauai’s tested waters polluted. A monthly analysis of streams, rivers and surf spots across the island found high concentrations of enterococcus bacterium, a federally recognized indicator of fecal presence in water, at a number of locations. Garden Island.

Historic $7.3M grant awarded to nonprofit Hale Halawai ʻOhana O Hanale dedicated to North Shore flood mitigation projects. The Hale Halawai ʻOhana O Hanalei, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to serving Kauaʻi’s north shore community will take on the role of administering and distributing an unprecedented grant through the Kauaʻi Emergency Management Agency. Kauai Now.

Kauaʻi inmate seriously injured in a hit-and-run soon after his escape from jail. An inmate's escape on Kauaʻi was short-lived when a vehicle hit him as he was running away on a highway early Friday, authorities said. Hawaii Public Radio.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Legislature could allow more houses on smaller lots, fund proposed to shield HECO from lawsuits, 4 Hawaii newspapers part of bankruptcy sale, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Bills propose more housing on smaller lots. The legislation aims to override county zoning for minimum lot sizes so that multiple homes can be built on lots as small as 2,000 square feet, compared with common minimum lot sizes of 3,500 to 10,000 square feet typically for one house.  Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers consider creation of fund to shield HECO, others from future fire-related suits. While facing potentially billions of dollars in damages from the Maui wildfire, Hawaiian Electric is proposing a $1 billion fund to pay for damages from a future fire catastrophe. Hawaii News Now.

Designer is commissioned to convert state Capitol pools to waterless feature. The long-troublesome reflecting pools at the state Capitol will be permanently dried up and converted to an artistic landscape with elements resembling water from around Hawaii designed by Native Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. 

Would a clean fuel standard help Hawaiʻi reduce transportation emissions? Hawaiʻi lawmakers are looking at another way to clean up transportation by lowering the amount of carbon in the fuel itself. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii newspapers part of bankruptcy sale. Carpenter Media Group announced the completion of its acquisition of U.S. and Canadian publisher Black Press Media in a stock purchase together with Canadian financial partners Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. and Deans Knight Ltd. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.


Honolulu Council alarmed over state’s urban density bills.  At a special meeting Thursday morning of the Council’s Committee on Planning and the Economy, the panel voted to recommend passage of Resolution 65 — introduced by Chair Tommy Waters and Vice Chair Esther Kia‘aina — to express “strong concerns” relating to these active “urban density bills” and the potential for unchecked housing development on Oahu. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.  KITV4.

Day 2 Kaneshiro, Mitsunaga trial: Government calls on former Mitsunaga employees. Trial continues for former Honolulu Prosecutor, Keith Kaneshiro, and former businessman, Dennis Mitsunaga, and his associates. KHON2.

Salary commission recommends raise for medical examiner — the city's highest paid employee. The Honolulu Salary Commission wants to give the city’s chief medical examiner a $400,000 salary for the next fiscal year — and a similar salary to the deputy medical examiner. Hawaii Public Radio.

Racetrack, landfill top the concerns as new round of Honolulu mayor's town hall sessions begins. A packed house greeted Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi at Kapolei High School as he kicked off a second year of town halls being held across Oahu. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Potential landfill in central Oahu draws criticism, while space for one is limited. The Land Use Commission told city officials they have until 2028 to shut down Waimanalo Gulch landfill in West Oahu after it grew in size and raised concerns from Leeward coast residents. KHON2.

Hawaii Ethics Commission Fines Former Athletics Director Glenn Nitta $274K. The largest administrative fee ever levied by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission stems from allegations of theft and embezzlement of funds belonging to the Mililani High School Athletic Booster Club. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Investigation underway into cause of fire at Pahoa restaurant. The Hawaii County Fire Department is investigating the cause of a blaze that burned through a popular eatery in Pahoa on Tuesday night. Hawaii News Now.


Bill to establish Lele Community District Board expected to stall in state House. A controversial bill to establish a nine-member Lele Community District Board for decision-making in rebuilding Lahaina has passed the state Senate, but it will not advance in the House, according to West Maui Rep. Elle Cochran. Maui Now.

A Number Of Investigations Have Been Launched Into The Maui Fires. Investigations into the causes of the Maui wildfires are entering a new phase, as government officials prepare to release reports in April and lawyers for fire victims accelerate their own inquiries previously stalled in the face of procedural maneuvers by defendants. Civil Beat.

Reports of respiratory issues near Lahaina burn zone put new spotlight on air quality monitoring. There is growing concern about air quality in West Maui following reports of respiratory issues plaguing some people downwind of the Lahaina burn zone. Hawaii News Now.

Planned housing site for fire survivors spurs concerns about runoff, drainage. Some Kahului residents fear a future housing site for fire survivors will make their drainage problems worse. They are calling on county officials to fix the issue to prevent a flooding disaster. Hawaii News Now.

1,600-unit Hoʻonani Village affordable rental housing project gets an early preview.  Members of the Maui County Council’s Housing and Land Use Committee received a presentation Wednesday on conceptual plans for the 1,600-unit Hoʻonani Village multifamily rental and commercial complex in Puʻunēnē. Maui Now. KITV4.

April 9 is deadline to appeal 2024 Real Property Assessment. The County of Maui Real Property Assessment Division encourages property owners to carefully review the 2024 real property assessment notices that were delivered to property owners last week. Maui Now.


The Hawaii DOE Has Defaulted On Rent Owed To Another State Agency. The Department of Education has been planning to build a "mega kitchen" that would eventually go to the Agribusiness Development Corp. But it has yet to pay the security deposit. Civil Beat.

Kaua‘i County Council approves development plan to grow affordable housing in Kapa‘a. Kaua‘i County Council unanimously approved a proposed plan to redevelop an affordable housing community in Kapa‘a, which is expected to grow the inventory from 36 to more than 100 homes for kamaʻāina. Kauai Now.

Single-family home price tops $1.4 million on Kaua‘i. A woozy housing market that couldn’t find its footing last year appears to be on firmer ground in 2024, as evidenced by stronger sales and loftier home prices. Garden Island.

Hawai‘i Tourism Authority releases February Hotel Performance Report. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority has announced that revenue per available room for Kaua‘i hotels increased nearly 9% in February, when compared to the same month last year, in line with the upward trend the agency has reported for the state as a whole.  Kauai Now.