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State briefs for April 11

State House leaders shelve bill to raise
minimum wage

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii state House leaders have resisted union pressure to revive bills that would raise the minimum wage and exempt unemployment benefits from state income taxes.

House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti said the chamber would not take up the measures this year, citing budgetary concerns.

The bill would have raised the minimum wage from $10.10 to $12 an hour starting July 1, 2022. Another bill would have exempted jobless benefits from Hawaii’s income tax. Both bills passed the Senate last month but stalled in the House when the Labor and Tourism Committee did not schedule them for hearings.

Labor unions have recently called on the House to take action on the bills, bypass committee hearings and bring the measures to a full vote on the floor.

Honolulu police chief resigns after critical evaluation

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said Friday she would resign and retire effective June 1, just days after she received a critical performance evaluation from the city’s police commission.

“The Honolulu Police Commission has been taking a more active role in the running of the department, and it’s become increasingly clear that I no longer have the trust and support of the police commission and the new mayoral administration,” Ballard said in a video posted on YouTube.

She said this, along with an unspecified “rampant rumor campaign,” had made it “next to impossible” for her to lead the department effectively.

“And so I believe it is in the best interest of the department and the community that I step aside and allow the commission to find someone who will lead the department in the way that they see fit,” Ballard said.

The police commission on Wednesday said Ballard fell below expectations in leadership and management. It highlighted poor communication within the department and called on Ballard to take responsibility when problems arise and not blame individual command staff.

The commission called on the department to improve its reporting of crime and case closure statistics, its management of overtime, and its communication.

Commission Chairperson Shannon Alivado said in a statement that the commission appreciated Ballard’s many efforts, including her initiatives on homelessness and responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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