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Hawaii begins “laser beam” session

The Hawaii State Legislature has begun tackling key issues like affordable housing, election reform, and the growing budget deficit.

Views expressed in this Hawaii State News summary are those of the reporters and correspondents.

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Accessed on 21 January 2021, 2231 UTC, Post 22,239.

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Hawai‘i Legislature launches “laser beam” session in a locked-down Capitol
Traditional festivities and speeches were all canceled amid security concerns and the threat of COVID-19. Though opening day lacked the usual fanfare, legislative leaders still promised to tackle issues like the budget hole, election laws and affordable housing. Civil Beat. Honolulu Star-AdvertiserHawaii News NowHawai‘i Public Radio. Tribune-Herald.

Taro farming group makes peaceful splash at Hawai‘i Capitol
Shadowed by a sizable security force at the Capitol yesterday, a taro farming sustainability group planted 10,000 Hawai‘i state flags on the lawn and handed out 10,000 taro plantings. They called on lawmakers to invest in agriculture. Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Some are renewing push for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians
The new Biden administration is opening the door for federal recognition for Native Hawaiians, which would allow greater self-determination and control similar to other Native American groups. KITV4.

Senator appointed by Ige had called to impeach him
In a statement, Gov. David Ige said he knew about Sen. Laura Acasio’s background opposing the Thirty Meter Telescope when he appointed her. Civil Beat. West Hawaii Today.

Biden order to help Hawai‘i renters, but UHERO expert wants more assistance
President Biden’s extension on the federal moratorium on evictions until the end of March will have a large impact on Hawai‘i’s propped-up rental market. But a housing expert at UHERO says the eviction moratorium should be paired with rent assistance. KHON2.

Stranded American Samoans are finally going home after a Hawai‘i quarantine
Hundreds of American Samoans have begun flying to O‘ahu from across the U.S. to quarantine before returning to their homeland, which closed its borders at the start of the pandemic. The state is helping to coordinate with a testing and quarantine center in Waikīkī. Civil Beat.

Editor’s Note: Why We Write
There were many days in 2020 when even I was reluctant to read the news. The pandemic, human tragedy, political battles, conspiracy theories and plenty more made it hard to take another daily dose. But I usually did because I felt obligated… read more.
HPU athletic director to serve as Blangiardi’s chief of staff
Hawai‘i Pacific University announced yesterday that Sam Moku will leave the university at the end of the month for his new position in Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s office. Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Longtime Honolulu fire chief to retire
Manuel Neves said he will retire on Feb. 28 after 42 years of servi­ce and eight years as chief — a position he held longer than 14 of his predecessors. Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Aloha Stadium meetings seek public comment
Two virtual community meetings on the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District next week will cap the public comment period on the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Most city surveillance cameras in Chinatown are broken ― and won’t be fixed
The cameras and infrastructure are obsolete and cannot be repaired. The city’s technology department, which maintains the equipment, has estimated that a new system would cost about $200,000. Hawaii News Now.

KITV4 Island News announces new owner
Allen Media Broadcasting founded Entertainment Studios in 1993 and owns 17 broadcast television stations across the country. KITV4.

Insurance Shake-Up in Hawai‘i

Local expert foresees big changes in some premiums – up or down depending on companies’ situations – plus interest by businesses in newer forms of insurance. Russell Park, senior VP and sales leader of Atlas Insurance Agency’s business insurance unit, explains how some of those changes will affect businesses in Hawai‘i… read more.

Mayor Mitch Roth released from hospital 11 days after heart attack
In addition to the stent surgeons implanted hours after the 56-year-old mayor was stricken on Jan. 9, Roth underwent a procedure to install an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.

Waipi‘o Valley residents still seek a deal limiting foot traffic on narrow, crumbling road
The Hawai‘i County Council deferred action on a bill to ban most pedestrians on Waipi‘o Valley Road, but residents believe a compromise may be near. Civil Beat.

5 Steps to Reposition Yourself Now

Did your job disappear in the COVID-19 crisis or is your college degree not opening as many doors as you had hoped? Maybe you had an epiphany while sheltering at home about what you really want to do with your life. Here are five tips to discover opportunity in these challenging times..read more.
Andrew Martin appointed as Maui County prosecuting attorney
Mayor Michael Victorino announced Martin’s appointment yesterday and will send the decision to the Maui County Council for confirmation. Maui Now.

Gym customers mask up amid new rules
New rules went into effect on Tuesday that limit business capacity to 30% and require people at gyms, yoga studios and similar fitness venues to wear masks at all times. Maui News.

Survey: More than 4K furloughed employees could lose health insurance
According to a recent survey of Kaua‘i businesses, 49% of respondents said they will not survive more than 90 days without the significant return of tourism. The loss could result in thousands of people getting tossed off their insurance plans. Garden Island.
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