Stories about Hawaii

Kahele wins Democratic nomination to succeed Gabbard in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District

Hawaii State Sen. Kaiali’i Kahele defeated Brian Evans, Brenda Lee, and Noelle Famera to win the Democratic nomination in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District Aug. 8. Kahele received 77% of the vote to Evans’ 9%, Lee’s 8%, and Famera’s 6%.

Kahele, who has served in the Hawaii state Senate since 2016, said his policy priorities were increasing funding for public education, expanding access to healthcare, and funding measures to respond to climate change.

Both Evans and Famera completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Evans, who was the Republican nominee for the seat in 2018 and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014, said he would focus on ending the disrespectful treatment of sacred land, increasing tax rates on foreign residents, and responding to medical errors.

Famera, a businesswoman with experience in insurance sales, said she supported a universal basic income program, a data rights bill, and funding measures to respond to climate change.

Incumbent Tulsi Gabbard (D), who was first elected in 2012, ran for president this year rather than seeking re-election. Gabbard won each general election in the 2nd District by a margin of 50 percentage points or greater, and election forecasters say the district is safely Democratic.

Hawaii to hold congressional primaries August 8

The statewide primary election for Hawaii is on August 8, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on June 2. Voters will elect one candidate from each of the state’s two congressional districts to serve in the U.S. House.

Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Hawaii’s primary is the 38th statewide primary to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide primaries will be held on August 11 in the following states:
• Connecticut
• Minnesota
• Vermont

• Wisconsin

Hawaii voters to decide state executive and legislative primaries

The statewide primary election for Hawaii is on August 8, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on June 2. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020. Candidates are running in elections for the following state offices:
Office of Hawaiian Affairs (four seats)
State Senate (13 seats)

State House (51 seats)

Ballotpedia will also be covering elections in Honolulu. Honolulu is a consolidated city-county and is the 11th largest city by population in the United States.

Hawaii has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Hawaii’s primary is the 38th statewide primary to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide primaries will be held on August 11 in the following states:


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Hawaii Supreme Court justice Pollack retires

Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Richard W. Pollack retired from the court July 2 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years old. He served on the court for eight years after being nominated in August 2012.
Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald said about Pollack, “During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Pollack was extraordinarily productive, authoring more than 150 opinions, all of which were meticulously researched and clearly written. He shaped the court’s jurisprudence in areas including public trust resources and the environment, criminal procedure, evidence, and public access to governmental proceedings.”
Hawaii Supreme Court justices are selected using the assisted appointment method in which the governor chooses from a list of four to six qualified candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. The Hawaii Senate then confirms the nominee. Judges serve ten-year terms on the court unless, like Pollack, they reach the mandatory retirement age before the end of their term.
Pollack’s replacement will be the first justice appointed by Hawaii Governor David Ige (D). Of the remaining four judges, Democratic governors appointed three and a Republican governor appointed one.

Hawaii state Senator Harimoto dies

Hawaii state Senator Breene Harimoto (D) died on June 18. He had represented District 16 in the Hawaii State Senate since 2014 and previously served on the Honolulu City Council from 2012 to 2014. Governor David Ige (D) has sixty days to appoint a replacement to represent Harimoto’s district in the chamber.

Harimoto’s death creates the only vacancy in the Hawaii state legislature. The partisan composition of the state Senate is currently 23 Democrats and one Republican in addition to Harimoto’s vacant seat. The Hawaii House of Representatives has 46 Democratic and five Republican members. Hawaii has had a Democratic state government trifecta since 2010, and the Democratic Party has held a majority in the state legislature since 1992.

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Hawaii governor extends travel restrictions for international and out-of-state travelers

On June 10, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) extended the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for those traveling to Hawaii from international or out-of-state locations through the end of July. Beginning June 16, the Hawaii National Guard will check passengers’ temperatures arriving through Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Each passenger will also need to have their travel verified and are required to sign a mandatory order for self-quarantine.

Governors or state agencies issued 21 executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors in response to the coronavirus pandemic. At least nine have been rescinded.

Hawaii extends stay-at-home order

On April 25, 2020, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced he was extending the statewide stay-at-home order through May 31. The order was originally scheduled to expire on April 30.

The order states that Hawaii residents can only leave home for essential purposes, such as buying food or receiving medical care. Outdoor activity is permitted so long as proper social distancing is followed.

Additionally, the order extends the state’s eviction moratorium and travel restriction. The travel restriction requires visitors and residents who enter the state to self-quarantine for 14 days. Inter-island travelers are also required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

SCOTUS issues opinions in cases concerning immigration, trademark use, and the Clean Water Act (CWA)

On April 23, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in three cases argued during its October Term 2019-2020.

1. Barton v. Barr, a case that concerned immigration law, originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and was argued on November 4, 2019.

  • The issue: “Whether a lawfully admitted permanent resident who is not seeking admission to the United States can be “render[ed] … inadmissible” for the purposes of the stop-time rule, 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(d)(l).”
  • The outcome: The court affirmed the decision of the 11th Circuit in a 5-4 ruling, holding that for purposes of cancellation-of-removal eligibility, a §1182(a)(2) offense committed during the initial seven years of residence does not need to be one of the offenses of removal

2. County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a case that concerned the Clean Water Act (CWA), originated from the 9th Circuit and was argued on November 6, 2019.

  • The issue: “Whether the CWA requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater.”
  • The outcome: The court vacated and remanded the 9th Circuit’s decision in a 6-3 ruling. The court held “a permit is required when there is a discharge from a point source directly into navigable waters or when there is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge.” In the majority opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the 9th Circuit’s holding was too broad, while the petitioner’s argument was too narrow.

3. Romag Fasteners v. Fossil, a case that concerned trademark law, originated in the Federal Circuit and was argued on January 14, 2020.

  • The issue: “Whether, under section 35 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a), willful infringement is a prerequisite for an award of an infringer’s profits for a violation of section 43(a), id. § 1125(a).”
  • The outcome: The court vacated and remanded the decision of the Federal Circuit in a 9-0 ruling, holding that a plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit is not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the plaintiff’s trademark as a pre-condition to a profits award.

As of April 23, 2020, the court had issued decisions in 26 cases this term. Between 2007 and 2018, SCOTUS released opinions in 924 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Supreme Court of Georgia holds oral argument via video conferencing

On April 20, 2020, The Supreme Court of Georgia held oral arguments via video conferencing. It is the first time in the court’s 175 year history that arguments were held virtually.

Ballotpedia is tracking how state courts are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other recent updates include:
  • Colorado – The Colorado Supreme Court extended its suspension of jury trials through June
  • Hawaii – The Hawaii Supreme Court issued an order extending its suspension of jury trials through May 29 or the expiration of the state of emergency. The order also authorizes local chief judges to resume jury trials earlier.