12 More Positive COVID-19 Cases at Maui Memorial Medical Center

Since mid-March through April 7, fifteen (15) healthcare workers at Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC) have been identified as COVID-19 positive by MMMC infection control staff. Four (4) patients are under investigation as potentially linked to this cluster.

Maui Memorial Medical Center

Since April 8 an additional 90 healthcare personnel and 36 patients have been tested. Some results are pending, but an additional seven (7) staff and five (5) patients have tested positive, bringing the total number of people (healthcare workers and patients) under investigation to 31 as of yesterday.

By tomorrow the hospital will have notified 194 patients who received care at MMMC by affected healthcare workers. DOH is assisting with telephone outreach and testing of impacted patients and healthcare providers is ongoing.

Cluster of Healthcare Workers at MMMC Contract COVID-19

The Star-Advertiser reports that at least 15 healthcare workers have contracted Coronavirus at the Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Maui Memorial Medical Center

The Maui Legislative Delegation issued the following statement after multiple employees at Maui Memorial Hospital tested positive for COVID-19:

“While the details of these cases are still forthcoming, we are deeply concerned for the safety of our healthcare professionals and other first responders. These employees are on the front lines everyday working to protect our community during this health crisis and we must do what we can to ensure their health and well-being.

As our islands lone major healthcare facility, our delegation is confident in the hospital’s ability to address this situation while continuing to provide quality care for the people of Maui County. We ask all residents to continue following the proper health protocols as we rapidly work to mitigate the spread of this virus.”

Mayor Michael Victorino provided the following statement on COVID-19 cases at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

“I was informed this morning that a cluster of COVID-19 cases has been identified and involve hospital staff at Maui Memorial Medical Center. These employees were immediately sent home to self-isolate and plans are moving forward to transport these workers to a quarantine site away from their families.”

“We also are working very closely with Maui Health System, the State Department of Health and others to accelerate testing for additional hospital workers this afternoon. Gov. David Ige has assured me that he will do everything he can to expedite test results.”

“I want to mahalo everyone who is on the front lines of this pandemic. These are difficult times for all of us and we are taking immediate action to assist our healthcare workers. The County will be redirecting any available personal protective equipment to the hospital for their staff.”

“We will continue to do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of everyone in Maui County.”

The Maui Legislative Delegation members are Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English (Senate District 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe), Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran (Senate District 5 – Wailuku, Waiheʻe, Kahului), Senator Rosalyn Baker (Senate District 6 – South and West Maui), Representative Lynn DeCoite (House District 13 – Molokaʻi, East Maui, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe and Molokini), Representative Troy Hashimoto (Houst District 8 – Kahakuloa, Waiheʻe, Waiʻehu, Puʻuohala, Wailuku, Waikapū), Representative Angus McKelvey (House District 10 – West Maui, Māʻalaea, North Kīhei), Representative Tina Wildberger (House District 11 – South Maui), Representative Justin Woodson (House District 9 – Kahului, Puʻunēnē, Old Sand Hills, Maui Lani) and Representative Kyle Yamashita (Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua, Kahului).

Statement on First COVID-19 Related Death on Maui

The Hawaii Department of Health has confirmed the first COVID-19 related death in Maui County, Mayor Michael Victorino announced this morning.

“My heart is heavy with this tragic news,” Mayor Victorino said. “Mrs. Victorino and I offer our deepest condolences to this individual’s family and know that our community will also offer support and love during this difficult time.”

According to the Department of Health, the individual was an older male resident with underlying health conditions.

Mike Rembis, Chief Executive Officer of Maui Health, provided the following statement:

“We want to express our deepest condolences to this individual’s family and friends,” Rembis said. “We ask our community to continue to rally around each other in support, to respect our Mayor’s stay-at-home-orders, and adhere to guidelines for social distancing, handwashing and hygiene. We will continue to do our part and protect our patients and staff. “

“Our Maui County ohana is strong and we must support and protect each other,” Mayor Victorino said. “Everyone must stay home and only go out in public for essential purposes. Now is not the time for parties and gatherings. If you do have to leave home, make sure you wear a mask and practice social distancing.

“We love this community and our county. I will be with all of you every step of the way through this pandemic, but we’re going to need everyone’s help to keep our families and loved ones safe.”

Video Released in Lahaina Substation Burglary

Hawaiian Electric’s Maui County operations released surveillance images of a man who broke into its Lahaina Substation along Lahainaluna Road on Friday, March 27 around 7:20 p.m.

The man can be seen on the video stealing a 2013 dark green and black 6-seater Polaris Ranger (diesel fuel) and black custom 2-wheel trailer.

Anyone who can identify the individual depicted in the accompanying surveillance images or anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Maui Crime Stoppers at (808) 242-6966.

Counties Roll Out Plans to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19

Following the State of Hawai‘i’s plan for “15-Days to Slow the Spread” of COVID-19, Hawai‘i’s mayors have recently implemented county plans that are geared to their island residents. Department of Health supports everyone’s efforts to keep the community safe and healthy.

“We can be more effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 if everyone takes these aggressive actions seriously,” said Bruce Anderson, director of the Hawai‘i Department of Health. “The response to the Governor and County directives has been positive so far and there are many, such as food establishments, which have identified alternative ways to serve the public with drive-through and take-out service to maintain their operations.”  

  • The City and County of Honolulu has mandated the closure of restaurants, parks and nightclubs for indoor service beginning 8:30 a.m. on Friday, March 20. Restaurant take-out, curb-side pick-up and delivery will be allowed. 
     
  • The County of Kaua‘i issued an islandwide nighttime curfew beginning Friday, March 20. The curfew will be in effect from 9 p.m. through 5 a.m. daily until further notice. Individuals must remain in their residence during these specified hours, with a few exceptions. 
     
  • The County of Maui announced rules that will be in effect beginning 7:45 a.m. on Friday, March 20, limiting the gathering of groups of people and curtailing vehicular transportation except for essential activities or operation of essential business or government functions. Restaurants and cafes that serve food within the premises are required to close; however, take-out and delivery service may continue.
  • Hawai‘i County issued guidance that restaurants, bars and places of worship may make their own decisions to open or close, and consider ways to minimize risk to customers and employees.

Please visit the county websites for more information.

Be Considerate When Purchasing Food and Supplies 
The DOH reminds the public to be judicious when shopping for food and essential goods so that kūpuna and others in need are able to purchase necessary items. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) Harbors Division continues to manage Hawai‘i’s commercial ports–the lifeline for Hawai‘i’s communities for food, medical supplies, clothing, household goods and more. There have been no interruptions to the supply chain as a result of COVID-19.

Definition of Community Spread 
Community spread is defined as cases that cannot be traced back to a traveler and have absolutely no travel related or involved connection with travel. As of noon today, March 19, all cases who tested positive in Hawaiʻi are travel related or involved with visitors on a daily basis.

Who should be tested for COVID-19?

Most people who are sick do not need to be tested. There is no specific medicine to treat COVID-19, so whether you test positive or negative, management of your illness will be the same.

Individuals who are not sick should not be tested even if they have been exposed to COVID-19.


Individuals who are sick with respiratory illness (e.g., fever and cough or shortness of breath)  AND who are at a higher risk for severe respiratory infections (e.g., older people, those with chronic medical conditions including immunosuppression) should call their usual source of healthcare to discuss whether they should be tested for COVID-19 and/or other infections such as influenza.

  • A provider’s referral is required to receive testing. 
  • If you do not have a provider, call an urgent care center or community clinic in your area.

Anyone having difficulty breathing should seek medical care immediately. If possible, call your healthcare provider first so they are prepared to receive you.

Other people with mild illness should help protect our most vulnerable and conserve our precious supplies by practicing social distancing measures, monitoring their illness, and calling their healthcare provider if their symptoms worsen or persist. 

State Launches New, Dedicated COVID-19 Website 
The State of Hawai‘i unveiled a new website for the public to access the latest information on COVID-19 in Hawai‘i. The website, hawaiicovid19.com, is an inter-agency collaborative effort to keep the community safe and healthy. It provides timely information and resources on the coronavirus, including guidance on how to prevent and mitigate community spread, common symptoms of COVID-19, and frequently asked questions.

Social Distancing 
COVID-19 recommendations are changing the rules on how much physical distance individuals should keep from each other. Cancelling events that do not allow attendees to be at least six feet apart—the equivalent of two arms length—and avoiding unnecessary physical meeting with others are proven strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus. The effectiveness of these initiatives largely depends on the cooperation and compliance from the public.

“One of the best ways to show aloha for each other at this critical time is to refrain from being in large gatherings and to keep a safe, healthy distance from each other,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “You may be healthy, but others around you may not be as fortunate. By practicing social distancing, you’re limiting the potential for exposure to any illness in your household and protecting everyone in our community. We all need to consider the health and wellbeing of others, especially seniors, those with preexisting health conditions and others whose health may be compromised.”

Anderson noted that technology enables us to have social distance without sacrificing emotional connection. “When feasible, we should use tools available for virtual meetings by phone, tablet or computer as a way to maintain contact with loved ones, especially kupuna in care homes given Gov. Ige’s directive to refrain from visiting nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities at this time.”

Ten New Positive Cases on O‘ahu and Maui 
As of March 19, 2020, noon, there is a total of 26 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i. New positive results were announced today for eight individuals on O‘ahu and two individuals on Maui. All cases who tested positive in Hawaiʻi are travel related.

The Department of Health will be confirming case numbers daily at noon. The situation is fluid with constant changes. Any additional case information received after noon will be reported the following day.

COVID-19 Summary of Numbers as of March 19, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. HST

(updated as new information becomes available)

Number of Total Positive Case(s)* Statewide                         26

Honolulu                                                                               18

Maui County                                                                         5

Kaua‘i                                                                                   2

Hawai‘i Island                                                                        1

*Includes confirmed and presumptive cases.

Confirmed: Meets CDC criteria and positive test result received from a certified laboratory such as the DOH State Laboratories Division.

Presumptive Positive: Positive test results from a private laboratory requiring confirmation by a state public health laboratory.

Sentinel Surveillance Testing Results

The DOH has received 124 negative results from test samples selected from sites statewide with the goal of identifying possible community transmission of COVID-19. There were 62 negative test results received last week and 62 negative test results received this week.

2-1-1 Call Center for Information on COVID-19

The Aloha United Way call center is open daily between 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. For information or questions about COVID-19:

1% Transient Accommodations Tax Increase Takes Effect January 1, 2018

Please be advised that, effective January 1, 2018, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) applied to lodging accommodations in the State of Hawaii will be increased by 1%, raising the TAT from its current rate of 9.25% to 10.25%. This increase is scheduled to stay in effect until December 31, 2030.

The TAT increase is being put into effect to help pay for Honolulu’s rapid transit system that is currently under construction. The light metro rail system will extend 20 miles from Kapolei in Leeward Oahu to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu with 21 stations along the way, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the State of Hawaii’s main port of entry for air transportation.

Following is a summary of State taxes that will be applied by lodging properties statewide when the 1% TAT increase takes effect on January 1, 2018:

Oahu
4.712%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.962%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Maui County / Island of Hawaii / Kauai
4.166%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.416%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Click here to see the notice issued by the Hawaii State Department of Taxation providing detailed information about the changes in State law that applies to the 1% TAT increase.

Any questions regarding the implementation of the 1% TAT increase should be directed to the Hawaii State Department of Taxation via email at Tax.Rules.Office@hawaii.gov or by calling 808-587-1530.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Launch Online Tool to Streamline Solar Application Process

Customers submitting new applications to install private rooftop solar can now complete the process entirely online using a new tool launched by the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

The Customer Interconnection Tool (CIT) is believed to be the first of its kind to provide a seamless, start-to-finish online solar application process that allows customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to check the status of their applications. The tool provides a user-friendly interface to guide contractors and customers through all steps of the Customer Self-Supply program application process, from submittal to finalizing the agreement.

“We’re excited to offer a streamlined electronic process to our customers,” said Jim Alberts, senior vice president of customer service. “The tool is able to show customers exactly where they are in the application process, which eliminates guesswork. This is one more way to make interacting with our companies as smooth and as easy as possible.”

CIT allows applicants to submit all of their information, including electronic documents, online. For convenience, customers and their designated representatives will have the ability to submit electronic signatures as well.

Applicants are prompted to provide required documentation, reducing the potential for delays caused by errors of omission. The tool also automatically calculates the system size based on four design guidelines, which simplifies the procedure.

Customers will receive regular status updates by email as various milestones are reached, keeping them informed every step of the way.

For more information, visit:

www.hawaiianelectric.com/DistributedEnergyResources

www.hawaiianelectric.com/CITonline

Hawaii State Senator Rosalyn Baker Named Top Influencer in Aging

Next Avenue, public media’s first and only digital publication dedicated to covering issues for people 50 and older, has named State Senator Rosalyn Baker (Dist. 6 – South and West Maui) as one of the top 50 Influencers in Aging.

Senator Rosalyn Baker

Senator Baker was recognized for her advocacy in the area of caregiving by leading the effort to pass a bill that establishes the Kupuna Caregivers Program, the nation’s first benefit program to help an employed family caregiver stay in the workforce while ensuring the loved one has additional supports to age in place. The Kupuna Care and Caregivers programs are especially designed for families for whom assisted living facilities or nursing homes are too expensive. The bill was signed into law on July 6, 2017.

The third annual list of top 50 Influencers in Aging includes advocates, researchers, thought leaders, innovators, writer and experts at the forefront of changing how we age and think about aging.

“I’ve spent my political career advocating for those who are most vulnerable in our community, so I’m honored to be recognized for my work in an area that I’m passionate about – our seniors,” said Sen. Baker. “The Kupuna Caregivers Program is a team effort between government, community and the public, and acknowledges the critical need to help our State’s elderly maintain their dignity and quality of life in their golden years while ensuring family caregivers can stay in the workforce and not jeopardize their own retirement benefits.”

Individuals are honored from each of the five areas that Next Avenue covers: Health & Well-Being, Caregiving, Money & Security, Work & Purpose and Living & Learning.

“Next Avenue is proud to honor these 50 people who are transforming aging in a time when this work is especially crucial,” said Next Avenue Editorial & Content Director Shayla Stern. “More than 100 million Americans are over age 50 now, and as life expectancy increases, it is imperative that policies, housing, science, technology and culture all evolve to better serve our population. These honorees on our list of Influencers in Aging are on the leading edge of this revolution.”

For a complete list of honorees and further information about Next Avenue’s 2017 Influencers in Aging, please visit: nextavenue.org/influencers.

Hawaii Department of Health Issues Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC Notice to Begin Sales of Medical Cannabis to Registered Patients

The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) has issued a formal notice to proceed to Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC today after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection. Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC is the third licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state (and the second on Maui) to receive approval to begin sales of medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers.

The rigorous dispensary approval processes to open and begin selling medical cannabis are based on the requirements of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 329D and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-850. Dispensaries are required to comply with all state and county, health, safety, and sanitation regulations, and are subject to unannounced inspections by DOH.

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15-consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space. It is illegal to use or possess medical cannabis on any federally owned property such as military installations and national parks. When bringing medical cannabis home after purchasing it from a dispensary, the medical cannabis must be in a sealed container and not visible to the public.

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawai‘i. There are three on O‘ahu: Aloha Green Holdings Inc.; Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. There are two in Hawai‘i County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC and Lau Ola LLC. The two Maui dispensaries include Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies; and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. The one dispensary located on Kaua‘i is Green Aloha, Ltd. These dispensaries are now at different stages of development by the licensees, and at varying stages of the approval process.

415 Dairy Road

The licensed retail center for Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC is at 415 Dairy Road in Kahului on Maui.

More information on the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program is available at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalcannabis/.

Coast Guard, Navy Coordinate Medevac for Man on Cruise Ship Off Maui

A 72-year-old man arrived safely to Maui Wednesday, after being medevaced 170 miles offshore.

A Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter aircrew from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, arrived on scene at 3:55, safely hoisted the man aboard and delivered him to awaiting emergency medical services at Kahului Medical Center in Maui.

“This case illustrates the importance of our partnership with the Navy”, said Lt. Duane Zitta, command duty officer, Coast Guard Joint Response Coordination Center Honolulu. “In the remote Pacific, long-range capable search and rescue assets are vital to getting people to a higher level of medical care as quickly and safely as possible.”

JRCC personnel in Honolulu received notification at 5:18 p.m. Tuesday from the master of the cruise ship Radiance of the Seas, of a passenger aboard suffering from symptoms of abdominal distress.

Watchstanders at JRCC contacted the duty flight surgeon who recommended the man be seen by a general surgeon within 24 hours. Watchstanders at JRCC then coordinated with HSM-37 to conduct the rescue.

Coast Guard Saves 6 People Off Maui

The Coast Guard rescued six people from a 27-foot vessel taking on water off Maui, Saturday.
Coast Guard Station Maui launched a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium and arrived on scene at 3:10 p.m. took the Makali’i in a stern tow and the crew aboard. They were safely towed to Kihei boat ramp where a post search and rescue boarding revealed no violations.

The Coast Guard rescued six people from taking on water in their 27-foot pleasure craft off Maui, September 9, 2017. Coast Guard Station Maui launched a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium safely towing the vessel to Kihei boat ramp where a post search and rescue boarding revealed no violations. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo/Released)

“This crew did everything right to be prepared and assist responders.” said, Petty Officer 1st Class William Cusic, search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “They called in as soon as they began taking on water, donned their lifejackets and deployed their anchor. We also recommend anytime you are on the water you take provisions and you leave word with family or friends about your voyage.”

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a report via VHF radio channel 16 from the master of the vessel around 1:30 p.m. The master reported they were taking on water at an unknown rate and the Makali’i’s crew was bailing water by hand in addition to the on board dewatering pumps. The water level was neither increasing nor decreasing.

Sector Honolulu issued an urgent marine information broadcast notice to mariners and directed the launch of the Station Maui RB-M.

On scene weather was reported as east winds approximately 11 mph with waves less than one-foot .

State Civil Rights Commission Settles Disability Discrimination Case with the County of Maui

The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) and the County of Maui today announced the settlement of a complaint alleging the denial of a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability.The no-fault settlement provides for review of the County of Maui’s non-discrimination policy by the HCRC, with revisions as deemed necessary, non-discrimination training for County of Maui employees, with a specific focus on disability discrimination, and monetary relief to the complainant.  All parties may now move forward and avoid the time and expense of extensive litigation.

HCRC Executive Director William Hoshijo stated, “The County of Maui should be commended for agreeing to review its current policies and training to prevent and eliminate discrimination and promote equal opportunity for all in county employment, regardless of disability.”

County of Maui Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist Ralph Thomas agreed, “It has always been the County of Maui’s policy to provide reasonable accommodations training to employees and managers so they have the information needed to address any physical or mental disabilities they may encounter while employed with the County of Maui.  This settlement reaffirms that commitment.”

The case involved a long-time employee of the County of Maui who claimed that she was denied a reasonable accommodation in the workplace.  The employee’s doctor requested the elimination or reassignment of a job function and the requested accommodation was initially granted to the employee.  However, the employee’s request for an accommodation was eventually denied.  The case was settled during conciliation after an HCRC finding of reasonable cause, but before a final decision was issued by the Commission and with no admission by the County of Maui of any wrongdoing.

Under Hawaiʻi law, an employee with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation, which is an adjustment or change needed to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.  Managers and supervisors should be trained to distinguish between the essential and marginal functions of the job when considering a request for a reasonable accommodation.

If a request for accommodation has been made, the employer must initiate an interactive process with the employee to determine what, if any, accommodation can be provided.  Communication between the employer and employee during the interactive process is essential.  The parties should identify the precise limitations resulting from the disability that impact job performance, whether an adjustment or change is needed to allow the employee with a disability to perform the essential job functions, and if any alternative accommodations may be effective in meeting the employee’s needs.

Reasonable accommodation in the workplace is not preferential treatment, rather, it allows an individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the position.  The employee with a disability is not entitled to his/her preferred accommodation if the employer has identified an alternative reasonable accommodation that also effectively allows the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.  Further, an employer may deny a proposed accommodation by showing that it would impose an undue hardship on the operation of its business.  The goal of the interactive process is to identify a reasonable accommodation for both sides.

“What should an employer do when an employee with a disability requests a reasonable accommodation?” Hoshijo says, “both the employer and the employee have an obligation to engage in an interactive process, or simply a discussion to see if there is a reasonable accommodation.  Both state law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require this, and it may seem complex, but at its core it is based on common sense and good faith.”

The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission is responsible for enforcing state civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and state-funded services.  If you feel you have been subjected to discrimination on any basis protected under state law, contact the HCRC at:  telephone (808) 586-8636, or email DLIR.HCRC.INFOR@hawaii.gov.

For more information on employment discrimination, go to the HCRC webpage at: labor.hawaii.gov/hcrc.

Discussion of Issues Relating to Special Session on Rail Funding, By Chairman of Maui’s County Council

The Chairman for the Maui County Council, Mike White, sent me the following document entitled “Discussion of Issues Relating to Special Session on Rail Funding:”


Mike White, Chairman of Maui County Council

Both the Hawaii State Association of Counties (HSAC) and the Hawaii Council of Mayors (HCOM) stand in support of the position to fund rail by extending the .5% GET surcharge.

  • The Proposal extends the GET surcharge for just three years to 2030.
  • The $1.3 billion raised by the TAT increase would be unnecessary if the GET was extended through 2033. The 3 additional years of surcharge would generate the same $1.3 Billion.
  • If the use of TAT fails the stress test of the Federal Transit Authority and is disqualified as a source to fund rail, will the TAT increase be reversed?

The promise to make permanent the $103 million to the Counties is questionable.

  • The Legislature’s history on keeping promises is weak. We all know that any action taken by today’s body can be reversed in any future session.
  • There was a promise that the 2% increase in TAT after the recession in 2008 would sunset after 5 years. It is not likely it will ever sunset.
  • The $103 million to the Counties still falls short in terms of the Counties being awarded their fair share.

There was hope that the recommendations of State-County Working Group would be taken seriously

  • The Counties’ share of the TAT would have been $184 million this past year if the legislature accepted the findings of the working group they established.
  • The working Group found that Counties provided 56% of visitor related expenditures from State or County general funds
  • Counties were willing to accept the lower 45% share compromise reached in the working group.
  • The Legislature has ignored the Working Group findings, maintained the cap and taken all of the increased revenue.

The State has already grown their share of the TATsignificantly.

  • TheState has increased its share of TAT from $17.1 million to $291.1 million since 2007
  • Since then the Counties share has dropped to $93 million, a loss of $7.8 million
  • The cost of Police, Fire and Parks departments in the four counties has increased by $264 million while Counties share has been reduced.
  • Without a rate increase State share will likely increase to $326 million in FY2018
  • With a 1% rate increase, State share will likely increase by another $58 million to $384 million.

Distribution to Local governments of taxes generated from Lodging Revenues

  • Nationwide, taxes on lodging have been established to cover the cost of services and infrastructure needed to support the visitors.
  • Nationwide, 67% of ALL taxes (GET & TAT) on Lodging revenue go to the local government.
  • In Hawaii, only 14% of GET & TAT generated is given to local Governments
  • The Hawaii TAT accounts for about 68% of the taxes on lodging. If we were to get the Average Local government share we would get almost all of the current TAT revenue.

Hawaii is not the only small state with large expenditures on Education and other government functions, but tax distribution is very different.

  • With similar populations to Hawaii, state expenditures on education in West Virginia and Idaho are close to Hawaii’s.
  • When Hawaii spent $1.6 billion or 23% of its General Fund (GF) on education, Idaho spent $1.6 billion (51% of GF)and West Virginia spent $1.9 billion (43% of GF) on education.
  • West Virginia has a 6% state sales tax and a 6% room tax (TAT)on lodging revenue. All proceeds from the 6% room tax go to the local government.
  • Idaho also has a 6% state sales tax and authorizes local government to impose “local option” taxes on lodging accommodations, drinks by-the-glass, retail sales, etc. The total taxes in resort areas appear to be about 12%. The state receives the 6% sales tax and the local government receives the rest.
  • This type of comparison deserves a closer look if we hope to bring a stronger sense of “partnership” to the relationship between our state and counties.

Our Legislators push the counties to increase property taxes instead of asking for more TAT.

  • Hawaii has lower property tax rates, but significantly higher home values.
  • Hawaii’s median home value is 5 times higher than West Virginia and three time higher than Idaho.
  • Even with lower rates, the average tax on the median home value is $1,430 in Hawaii vs $1,250 in Idaho and $660 in West Virginia.
  • Hawaii property taxes represent 2.1% of median household income. This compares to 2.6% in Idaho and 1.5% in West Virginia.

Neighbor Islands are again being offered the opportunity to pass the same .5% GET Surcharge for our transportation needs.

  • The concern that the neighbor islands have had for years is that once we pass the GET surcharge, the Legislature will take away ALL of our TAT revenue.
  • Some of us have been told directly over the years that this is their intension.
  • The Neighbor Islands favor keeping a visitor-generated TAT to pay for visitor–related services. It makes no sense to shift the cost of visitor services to our resident population through either GET or property taxes when the visitors have already paid their fair share.
  • The GET generated by the .5% surcharge would be just slightly higher than the amount of TAT we are currently getting.

Impact of TAT on Neighbor Islands

  • Oahu occupancy rates are 10 points ahead of Maui, 13 ahead of Kauai and nearly 20 points ahead of Big Island
  • From CY 2006 to CY 2016, Oahu GET base grew by 15% while Neighbor Islands remain below 2006 levels
  • One percent increase in TAT would remove over $30 million from our Neighbor Island communities and economies.

State should work on ensuring all TAT taxing options and compliance issues are addressed before simply increasing the rate

  • The State is not receiving a significant portion of the TAT revenue even though the visitors are paying the TAT or an equivalent.Amend TAT statute to ensure collection of taxes from accommodation remarketers instead of just operators.  Maui County has drafted a bill to correct the problem, and it will likely be part of the HSAC package. $60-80 million in added revenue.
  • Increase the basis of the calculation of TOT on Timeshares from 50% of maintenance fee to a higher percentage.
  • Work with Counties to ensure vacation rentals are operating legally and paying both State and county taxes. Maui County will be contracting with internet service that will identify location and ownership of rentals being advertised on the internet.
  • Instead of TAT, evaluate a Rhode Island-type 1% tax on food and beverages consumed at restaurants, bars and hotels. Restaurant Association estimates the Hawaii base at $4.6 billion. $46 million in added tax revenue

Tax Review Commission recommendations would increase revenues by over $300 million per year

  • Not all the recommendations are popular
  • Sugary beverage tax of $.02 per ounce – $50 million
  • Increase collection of taxes on e-commerce/online retail sales – $30-40 million

Mike White,
Maui County Council Chairman

Statement Regarding School Bus Situation on Maui

“We continue to work diligently day in and day out to recruit and train drivers. Over the last week, we have made significant progress. However, we need to hire 14 more drivers to fully service temporarily suspended and consolidated routes for Baldwin, Lahainaluna and Maui high schools and Iao Intermediate.

We are in daily communication with HIDOE about where we are with driver recruitment and how we can strategically restore routes. Our contracts with HIDOE included changes to multiple pick-up and drop off locations and times, some of which may be different from years past.

Getting students to school, safely, is paramount which is why we invested in a brand new bus fleet for Maui and have an extensive screening and training process for our drivers.

We had hoped to be fully ready on day one of school, but repeated appeals and challenges of our contract award by Robert’s Hawaii, which lost contracts on Maui and Kauai, set our hiring timetable back. That, coupled with the growing national bus driver shortage crisis, means finding high quality drivers hasn’t been easy.

We sincerely apologize to students, families and the community for the inconvenience caused by the temporary disruption in service and appreciate their patience as we work to resolve this situation.”

Louis Gomes, President of Ground Transport Incorporated

Maui Lawmaker Calls on Governor to Resolve Bus Crisis

West Maui lawmaker Representative Angus McKelvey today called on Governor David Ige to intervene in the student transportation crisis that has adversely affected West Maui as well as other school districts on Maui and Kauai.

HIDOE is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses to service routes on Maui and Kauai. For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The situation is completely unacceptable, especially when you consider all the Lahainaluna High School students that need access to a campus that is not readily serviced by other transportation means including a county bus route,” McKelvey said. “The bus shortage has exasperated an already existing traffic problem as parents are now scrambling to get kids to school by their own means before the workday.”

McKelvey’s concerns are with parents and families who may not be able to afford private transportation and solely rely on the bus system to get their keiki to and from school.

“Parents who don’t have the means to afford last-minute private transportation are going to be stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to get the kids to school,” he said. “And, while the Department of Education’s relaxation of the tardy rules and breakfast times will help somewhat, many of these kids may be forced to miss large segments of school time. This, in turn, could result in inadvertent involvement in the court system for their parents because their children are not being at school for the required amount of time.”

McKelvey believes that “it is unfair to parents in this situation to be faced with potential legal consequences for actions beyond their control especially considering the last minute notification of the bus shortage.

“It is especially troubling that the DOE spokesperson said that there were no reported problems related to the bus issues only illustrates further that the DOE is disconnected from the challenges that we are facing with this issue here on West Maui,” McKelvey said.

The West Maui lawmaker also expressed his concern that the Board of Education allowed the bus contract issue to “spiral out of control” before the beginning of the school year and a shortage of drivers should have been discussed well before the start of school.

“The lack of qualified drivers for certain routes should also have been disclosed during the procurement process,” he said. “Especially when it is a new Oahu based vendor that has never provided any transportation for the schools in Maui before.

“On behalf of all the hard working parents and their keiki of West Maui, I am humbly asking the Governor to step in and have the Board of Education either issue a supplemental contract for the busing services at Lahainaluna High School, and any other areas, or rescind the contract in its entirety for failure to perform.

“With the start of the high school on Wednesday, and other major traffic events coming up, this situation could go from bad to very bad in a short period of time,” McKelvey said. “The bottom line is the vendor should be able to perform as promised, and did not timely notify the DOE. Therefore, the department and the Governor need to use their powers of the executive branch to take whatever actions are necessary to address this bus driver shortage – an issue which never should have occurred of in the first place.

“In an area where the schools are not serviced by county bus routes, an immediate busing option is needed, especially for parents and families who can’t afford to simply call a taxi or grab a rental car to get the kids to school before going to their two or three jobs needed just to make ends meet.”

Hawaii’s First Medical Cannabis Dispensary Opens Today

Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies is the first licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state to receive the green light from the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) to begin selling medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers. The Department of Health issued a formal notice to proceed to Maui Grown Therapies today after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection.

The licensed retail center for Maui Grown Therapies is located at 44 Pa‘a Street in Kahului, Maui. The dispensary will begin selling dried medical cannabis flowers when it opens to registered patients.

“This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception. With legal guidance from Department of the Attorney General, the DOH team paved the way for this new industry in Hawai‘i and has set a new standard for dispensary programs other states can emulate.”

The rigorous dispensary approval processes to open and begin selling medical cannabis are based on the requirements of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 329D and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-850. Dispensaries are required to comply with all state and county, health, safety, and sanitation regulations, and are subject to unannounced inspections by DOH.

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space. It is illegal to use or possess medical cannabis on any federally owned property such as military installations and national parks. When bringing medical cannabis home after purchasing it from a dispensary, the medical cannabis must be in a sealed container and not visible to the public.

According to the StarAdvertiser:

Hawaii history will be made today when the first dispensary opens for business on Maui, nearly two decades after the state legalized medical marijuana.
Maui Grown Therapies, one of eight dispensary licensees, will begin at 11 a.m. the first legal sales of cannabis in the islands…

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawai‘i. There are three on O‘ahu: Aloha Green Holdings Inc.; Mānoa Botanicals LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. There are two in Hawai‘i County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC and Lau Ola LLC. Two on Maui: Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC; and one on Kaua‘i, Green Aloha, Ltd. These dispensaries are now at different stages of development by the licensees, and at varying stages of the approval process.

`Iao Valley State Monument to Reopen Tomorrow

‘Iao Valley State Monument will reopen on Saturday, August 5, 2017,  at 7:00 a.m., The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is in the process of completing repairs to the areas in the park that were damaged by a massive flood event in September 2016.  Due to pending permit approvals to complete the project, the DLNR Division of State Parks, decided to re-open the park for residents and visitors during the hiatus of construction activity. It’s anticipated construction will resume sometime this fall after permits are approved.

The valley has been closed since massive flooding swept through it September 13th and 14th, 2016

State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said, “We thank the Maui community and visitors for their patience and understanding during the park closure, but we still need to complete further safety measures later this year.  We believe these improvements and repairs will provide our park users and visitors with the assurance that their health and safety are our top priorities.”

Cottrell added, “We coordinated with the tour industry and the local community to inform them on our repair plans, and consulted with the ‘Aha Moku representatives to ensure that the mitigation work was consistent with cultural values and protocols. A private blessing with ‘Aha Moku representatives and parties involved in the restoration took place today, to ensure public safety, and that we honor the place we are reopening tomorrow.”

As a demonstration of the collaborative relationship between state parks and tour industry to benefit the community, Polynesian Adventure Tours is intentionally not scheduling its bus tours for the first week after ‘Iao opens, to allow the community to visit without the buses returning.

Contractor Maui Kupono Builders, LLC. began work on February 13, 2017 to remove green waste, concrete debris and railings, followed by interim slope stabilization in the Wailuku River (‘Iao Stream). Visitors will see a significant change to the slopes of the now wider river, which now sport a revetment of stacked rocks and 300-400 feet worth of Shotcrete slope coating to prevent loose material from falling down.

Changes to the parking lot include restriping and installation of flexible traffic delineators, as well as installation of a green security guardrail fencing at various locations to keep buses only within the upper parking area, and warning signs to prevent people from getting close to the stream’s edge.

A pedestrian corridor has been marked with striping and surface repairs to the pathways leading to the Hawaiian Garden and to the summit lookout were made. The iconic pedestrian bridge over Kinihapai Stream received a new support structure and the comfort station and upper lookout hale have been painted.

Still closed is the lower streamside loop trail area in the Hawaiian garden, which sustained severe damage. It was cleaned up but will remain fenced off. State Parks is considering options for ways to make it safe for people to enjoy.
Division of State Parks will hold a community meeting later this year to explain a second phase of additional streamside slope stabilization and improvements requiring park closure again. Total project cost is $1,837,341.

‘Iao Valley State Monument is among the top attractions on Maui and sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The flash flood in 2016 caused millions of dollars of damage to manmade structures like railings and pedestrian bridges and created serious erosion, stream channel and land movement.  State Parks obtained emergency restoration funding and began clean-up and restoration operations within weeks of the flood.

School Bus Drivers Needed for Maui & Kauai Routes Before Fall Semester Begins On August 7

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) to service routes on Maui and Kauai. A current shortage of school bus drivers may affect Maui and Kauai routes when school begins on Monday, August 7.

HIDOE is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses to service routes on Maui and Kauai. For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The Department is working with our bus contractors and transportation partners to minimize any impacts to our students and families when the fall semester begins,” said Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson. “Some school bus routes are being consolidated and many will operate normally, but we hope to sign up additional drivers before the school year begins.”

For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Interested CDL drivers should contact the Student Transportation Services Branch at (808) 586-0170 as soon as possible.

Maui Man Charged with 13 Leash Law Violations and Failing to Register a Dog

52-year old Maui resident Mark Simonds was charged today with thirteen (13) violations of the Maui County Code’s leash laws and one count of failing to properly register one of his dogs.

Click to read full report

According to the complaint, Simonds failed to keep his two dogs under restraint, as required by law. The violations occurred at various times between August 2016 and May 2017. The complaint also alleges that one of his dogs was not properly licensed.

The applicable sections of the Maui County Code, as described in the complaint, are punishable by up to a $500 fine for each violation.

The case was referred to the Department of the Attorney General by the Prosecuting Attorney of the County of Maui.

Simonds is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hawaii Update on Mumps: Outbreak Continues with 18 Additional Cases, Including 2 on Hawaii Island and 4 on Kauai

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 18 new cases of residents with the mumps, raising the total number of statewide cases this year to 172. Nine of the new cases of individuals are adults. Twelve of the cases are from Oahu, four are from Kauai and two are from Hawaii Island.

DOH continues to stress the importance of following its recommendations to help prevent the spread of mumps.“The important thing for people to remember is to keep their germs to themselves,” said Ronald Balajadia, Immunization Branch Chief, DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division. “We encourage the public to stay home when sick, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, wash their hands frequently and make sure they are fully vaccinated.”

DOH urges all adults born in or after 1957 without evidence of immunity to mumps to receive the MMR vaccine which prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second vaccine dose at a minimum of four weeks after the first dose. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. For this reason, being fully vaccinated is important in helping to protect family members, friends, coworkers, classmates, and your community.

DOH also recommends that all children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first of which is routinely given at age 12–15 months and the second dose at 4–6 years of age. However, because of the continued circulation of mumps in Hawaii, children between 1–4 years of age should receive their second dose now (a minimum of four weeks after the first dose).

To locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccinesimmunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

The majority of the 172 confirmed cases are on Oahu, with 13 on Kauai and three from Hawaii Island. None of the individuals required hospitalization and all are recovering. DOH expects more cases in the coming weeks as mumps is a highly-contagious disease.

DOH will post the latest mumps cases online at: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/ at 12 noon every Thursday. The site offers current information about the state’s ongoing investigation.