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Stories about Hawaii

Hawaii reports increased number of unemployment insurance phishing scams

The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) announced April 7 an increased number of reports of phishing scams tied to unemployment insurance claims. The schemes involve scammers who impersonate the DLIR in text messages, emails, and social media posts that ask for personal information that is supposed to relate to unemployment insurance claims.

The department did not give specific data on the reports but reminded residents that the state does not ask for personal information via text. DLIR also said the official website for Hawaii unemployment insurance benefits is https://huiclaims.hawaii.gov/#/.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For more information on Kansas’ unemployment insurance program, click here. For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

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Final statewide mask requirement ended in Hawaii March 26

The last remaining statewide mask requirement in the country ended in Hawaii on March 26. Governor David Ige (D) announced the end of the requirement on March 8, bookending a series of 10 other states ending their mask requirements throughout February and March. 

Since New Jersey enacted the first statewide mask requirement in response to the coronavirus pandemic on April 10, 2020, Ballotpedia has tracked such requirements across the 50 states. 

Thirty-nine states implemented statewide mask requirements over the course of the pandemic, 17 of which currently have Republican governors, and 22 have Democratic governors. Five states with Democratic governors that allowed a statewide order to fully expire later reinstated a mask order. One state (New York) had its mask requirement overturned by a court then reinstated by higher court action the same day. Thirty-six states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through a court order.

The chart below shows the total number of days each state had a mask requirement in place since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Highlights:

  • New Jersey issued the first statewide mask requirement on April 10, 2020.
  • Mississippi had the shortest mask requirement, lasting 56 days. 
  • The shortest statewide mask requirement in a state with a Democratic governor was in Wisconsin, which lasted 242 days.
  • The longest statewide mask requirement was in Hawaii, which lasted 704 days.
  • The longest statewide mask requirement in a state with a Republican governor was in Maryland, which lasted 393 days.


Hawaii enacts new state legislative districts

Hawaii enacted new legislative districts on Jan. 28, 2022, when the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission voted 8-1 to approve a legislative map proposal. The maps will take effect for Hawaii’s 2022 state legislative elections.

The commission’s Technical Committee Permitted Interaction Group initially presented the state legislative map plans to the commission for consideration on Oct. 14, 2021. The map plans were approved for public comment on Oct. 28. The commission approved a motion on Jan. 6 to modify the legislative map plans after learning the initial plans had not properly accounted for the number of nonpermanent resident personnel on military installations in the state, who are not included in legislative redistricting. Under the modified proposal, one legislative district moved from Oahu to Hawaii.

Commission Chairman Mark Mugiishi said the maps were drawn fairly. “I do believe the principle of the democratic process is a fair and well-run election,” Mugiishi said. Commissioner Cal Chipchase said, “They follow a long iteration of taking into account the best available data that we have received, and have been responsive to community concerns and questions where practicable.” Commissioner Robin Kennedy, who cast the only vote against the new maps, said, “I feel the community still doesn’t have the answers it needs.” Sandy Ma of Common Cause Hawaii said, “The proposed final maps do not take community concerns or testimonies into account and it still splits communities of interest.”

Thirty-one states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers, and one state has adopted maps that have not yet gone into effect as of Feb. 4. The state supreme court in one state has overturned previously enacted maps, and 17 states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census.

Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,305 of 1,972 state Senate seats (66.2%) and 2,976 of 5,411 state House seats (55.0%).

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Hawaii enacts new congressional district maps

Hawaii enacted new congressional districts on Jan. 28, 2022, when the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission voted 8-1 to approve a congressional map proposal. Hawaii was apportioned two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it received after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Hawaii’s 2022 congressional elections.

Two congressional district maps were presented to the commission at their meeting on Sept. 9, 2021. One map kept the congressional lines as they were drawn following the 2010 census. An alternate map slightly adjusted the lines along the western coast of Oahu. The commission voted to adopt the alternate proposal on Oct. 14. After hearing public testimony, the commission drafted a final proposal on Jan. 26.

Commissioner Cal Chipchase said the proposals were responsive to public input and followed state statutes. “I am satisfied that the technical committee and that this commission has considered all of the constitutional criteria, as practicable, rather than favoring any one or ignoring any condition,” Chipchase said. Bill Hicks, a Hawaii citizen who submitted proposals to the commission, criticized the commission’s approach to the new maps. “It is best to construct compliant House districts first and use them as building blocks for not only Senate districts, but also for Congressional districts. Construct the Congressional districts last and not first,” Hicks said.

Twenty-eight states have adopted congressional district maps, and one state has approved congressional district boundaries that have not yet taken effect as of Feb. 4. Federal or state courts have blocked previously adopted maps in two states, and 13 states have not yet adopted congressional redistricting plans after the 2020 census. Six states were apportioned one U.S. House district, so no congressional redistricting is required.

Congressional redistricting has been completed for 299 of the 435 seats (68.7%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Keith Hayashi assumes office as interim superintendent of the Hawaii State Department of Education

Keith Hayashi assumed office as interim superintendent of Hawaii’s state department of education on Aug. 1. The Hawaii State Board of Education in June appointed Hayashi to serve as the interim superintendent, after outgoing superintendent Christina Kishimoto announced she would not seek a contract renewal. Hayashi will serve in the role until the Board selects a permanent replacement.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead our public school system during this transition,” Hayashi said in a statement released by the Department of Education. “This is such a critical time for the Department and I am committed to connecting with our schools, complex areas and state office leaders to ensure that we are well prepared for the upcoming school year.”

At the time he was appointed, Hayashi was the principal of Waipahu High School, a position he had held since 2009. This is Hayashi’s second time serving as interim state superintendent; he previously held the interim role in July 2017, before the Board appointed Christina Kishimoto to the position. Hayashi also served as interim deputy state superintendent from March to June 2017.

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Christina Kishimoto

Hawaii Superintendent of Education

Superintendent of Schools (State Executive Office)



Hawaii governor appoints Linda Ann Ha‘i Clark to state House of Representatives

Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) appointed Linda Ann Ha‘i Clark (D) to the District 13 seat of the Hawaii state House on July 23. The seat became vacant in June when Ige appointed former state Rep. Lynn DeCoite (D) to the Senate to succeed Jamie Kalani English (D). Clark will serve the remainder of DeCoite’s term, which was set to expire in November 2022.

“I am extremely grateful for the appointment. I’d like to thank Gov. Ige for entrusting me. I’d also like to thank Sen. Lynn DeCoite and outgoing Sen. Kalani English for their years of service. I look forward to meeting my constituents as soon as possible,” Clark said in a statement released by Gov. Ige’s office.

At the time she was appointed, Clark worked as an independent process server for the State of Hawaii’s Child Support Enforcement Agency. 

Hawaii is one of ten states that fill state legislative vacancies through gubernatorial appointment.

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Lynn DeCoite

State legislative vacancies, 2021



Lynn DeCoite appointed to Hawaii State Senate, creating vacancy in state House

Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) appointed Lynn DeCoite (D) to the District 7 seat in the Hawaii State Senate on June 17. The seat became vacant in May when former state Sen. Jamie Kalani English (D) retired due to the long-term health effects of a past COVID-19 infection. DeCoite to serve the remainder of Kalani English’s term, which was set to expire in November 2022.

At the time she was appointed, DeCoite was serving her fourth term in the Hawaii House of Representatives. Governor Ige appointed DeCoite to represent District 13 in February 2015, after former state Rep. Mele Carroll (D) resigned. DeCoite won re-election in 2016, 2018, and 2020.

DeCoite’s appointment to the state Senate creates a vacancy in the state House. When a vacancy occurs in the Hawaii legislature, the governor must appoint a replacement within 60 days after the vacancy happens. The governor selects from a list of three prospective candidates submitted by the political party that last held the vacant seat.

Hawaii is one of ten states that fill state legislative vacancies through gubernatorial appointment.

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Hawaii State Senate Majority Leader Jamie Kalani English resigns

Hawaii State Senate Majority Leader Jamie Kalani English (D-7) resigned on May 1, citing the long-term health effects of a past COVID-19 infection. 

English said he contracted COVID-19 in November 2020. “After many discussions with my doctors, talks with those close to me and careful thought, I am announcing my retirement from the Hawai‘i State Senate, effective May 1, 2021,” English said in a press release. “Having been deemed a long hauler, I was diagnosed with long-term effects of COVID-19. My new normal will require me to address some of the challenges left to my short and long-term memory and other cognitive issues derived from the virus. These challenges have placed a number of things into perspective for me, including the need to take better care of my health.”

English represented Hawaii’s 7th state senate district from 2000 to 2021. He ran unopposed in the 2014 and 2018 general elections. He served as the Hawaii Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021. The state Senate appointed Sen. Dru Kanuha (D-3) as the new majority leader on May 5.

If there is a vacancy in the Hawaii State Legislature, the governor is responsible for appointing a replacement. The political party committee that last held the vacant seat has 30 days after the vacancy to submit a list of three recommended candidates to the governor, who selects from among those three.

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Kaiali’i Kahele resigns from Hawaii state Senate to join U.S. House of Representatives

Kaiali’i Kahele (D) resigned from the Hawaii state Senate on Dec. 16 after being elected to Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Kahele defeated Joseph Akana (R), 63% to 31%, on Nov. 3. Kahele will be sworn in to the U.S. House on Jan. 3, 2021.

Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Kahele to the District 1 seat in February 2016 to replace Gil Kahele (D), Kahele’s deceased father. Kaiali’i Kahele represented District 1 from 2016 to 2020. 

According to Hawaii law, the governor appoints a replacement within 60 days when a vacancy occurs in the state Senate. The political party that last held the vacant seat has 30 days to provide the governor with a list of three prospective candidates. The party to submit a list of prospective candidates. According to a report in Big Island Video News, “The selection body will meet electronically on Wednesday, December 23, at 6:00 p.m. to identify three names to forward on to the Governor.” 

As of Dec. 21, there have been 129 state legislative vacancies in 41 states during 2020. Ninety-seven (97) of those vacancies have been filled. Of the 129 vacancies, 71 are Republican, and 58 are Democratic. Republicans have filled 49 vacancies, while Democrats have filled 48. 

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Todd Eddins joins Hawaii Supreme Court 

Image of the Hawaii Supreme Court building in Honolulu.

Todd Eddins was sworn in to the Hawaii Supreme Court as an associate justice on Dec. 11. Founded in 1959, the Hawaii Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has five judgeships. Of the five current justices, Democratic governors appointed four, and a Republican governor—Linda Lingle—appointed one. 

Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Eddins on Oct. 23 to replace retired Justice Richard W. Pollack. Pollack retired on June 30 when he met the mandatory retirement age of 70. The Hawaii State Senate unanimously confirmed Eddins on Nov. 19. Before joining the court, Eddins was a judge of the O`ahu First Circuit Court from 2017 to 2020.

Hawaii’s supreme court justices are selected using the assisted appointment method of judicial selection. The Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission forwards a list of candidates to the governor, who then appoints a candidate who must then be confirmed by the Hawaii State Senate. Justices serve renewable 10-year terms, which are approved or denied by the Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission. 

Eddins was Gov. Ige’s first nomination to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Upon nominating Eddins, Gov. Ige said, “Judge Eddins has the vast knowledge and experience necessary to serve on the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. He has the respect of his peers and I know that he will be a welcome addition to the state’s highest court.”  

In 2020, there have been 23 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, one vacancy occurred when a justice was not retained, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements. As of Dec. 14, 20 of those vacancies have been filled.  

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