Ryan Finnerty

Government and Public Policy Reporter

Ryan Finnerty is Hawaiʻi Public Radio's award-winning Government and Public Policy reporter focusing on state and county politics, business, economics, the military, science, and the environment. Before that he was a producer and reporter on HPR's local public affairs talk show The Conversation. His work has been featured nationwide on NPR programs Morning Edition,  All Things Considered, and Here and Now, American Public Media's Marketplace and C-SPAN Radio's View from the States project. Before coming to Hawaiʻi Public Radio, Ryan was an officer in the U.S. Army stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oʻahu. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in economics.   

Veterans Health / Flickr

This week the Department of Veterans Affairs rolls out a major overhaul of how the nation’s veterans receive private healthcare through the VA. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie has previously committed to expanding VA services and says the new prorgam is "not libertarian VA."

FLICKR / MORNER

Police departments around the country are having trouble recruiting new officers and Hawaii’s largest police force is no exception. The Honolulu Police Department is currently short 260 officers, or about 10 percent of its total force.

Pixabay

It’s now commonly known that many chemicals commonly found in sunscreen are harmful to coral reefs. But that link wasn’t established until 2015 and many challenges to mitigating the negative effects remain.

Ryan Finnerty

"We are in a crisis period." Those were the opening words of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell given during his annual State of the City Address Thursday night.

Bernard Spragg / Flickr

In an effort to lower trade deficits and protect American companies, the Trump Administration has levied tariffs on more than $250 billion worth of goods imported to the United States. Many of those products are inputs, goods used by domestic companies to produce their own products. This series explores how Hawaii-based businesses are being impacted by those tariffs.

Maui Brewing Company

A 25 percent tariff on Chinese-made steel poses “a tremendous challenge” for Maui Brewing Company, according to co-founder and owner Garrett Marrero. Uncertainty surrounding the tariffs has led Hawaii’s largest craft brewer to postpone major capital purchases needed to continue the company’s growth.

USAID

The Pacific region is the most dependent on international aid of any region in the world, with 6 percent of regional GDP coming from foreign aid. The common narrative is that China is dominant in that space.

But a recently completed project by Australia’s Lowy Institute found the truth to be a lot more complex.

Wikimedia Commons

As the first week of deliberation in a high-profile corruption trial concludes, the position of local journalists covering the case has been exposed as precarious. 

Cory Lum / Civil Beat

Honolulu City Council Member Ron Menor says he does not think the City and County should be on the hook for attorney fees accrued in the court defense of former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha. Menor wants to mount a court challenge to prevent the spending of city funds.

MaxPixel

Hawaii Island took an economic hit following last year’s natural disasters, and the recovery has been a slow one. Miles Yoshioka is the Executive Officer of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce. In a recent op-ed he made the case for increasing the Big Island’s economic resilience by expanding the astronomy industry.

Courtesy of DLNR / Division of Aquatic Resources

Update, 5:30 PM, May 23rd, 2019: The GET Committee deferred the resolution with a 4-4 split. The resolution will remain in the committee, and will be discussed at a later time.

Members of the Maui County Council on Monday considered a settlement offer in the case of a county wastewater facility. The case is currently scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Diana Parkhouse / Flickr

The San Francisco based company Landed was created to help teachers working in high-cost areas achieve homeownership. The company has been meeting with teachers across Hawaii this week ahead of its planned expansion into the state.

Department of Defense Stock Photo

The Hawaii state legislature adjourned this year without taking much action to reduce teen vaping, but members of the U.S. Congress are now pursuing tobacco legislation at the federal level.

University of Hawaii ROTC / Facebook

Seniors at the University of Hawaii are preparing for graduation this weekend. On Friday, a small group of those students will also be commissioned as officers in the US military. But before they do, Army ROTC cadets at UH had to go through intensive training modeled on a battle in which a former University of Hawaii cadet was killed in action.

Ryan Finnerty
Ryan Finnerty

After months of debate, the Honolulu City Council was poised yesterday to approve new rules that would have restricted short-term rentals on Oahu. But after more than eight hours of public comment and deliberation, councilmembers sent two proposals back to committee for revisions.

Ryan Finnerty

Updated: May 8, 2:13 p.m.

 

A leadership shakeup today at the Honolulu City Council landed Ikaika Anderson the chairmanship of the council while Tommy Waters was sworn in to represent East Honolulu following a court challenge and months of delays. The changes came as the council also took up the contentious issue of short-term vacation rentals.

 

Wikipedia

Legal scholars and climate activists are gathering at the Hawaii State Capitol on Friday to outline a new strategy for combating climate change. Cities and states around the country are suing major oil producers over the financial cost of climate-related disasters.

danxoneil / Flickr

Update, April 30, 2:05 p.m.: The State Senate revoted on and passed SB 1292 imposing short term rental taxes by a margin of 13-12. The bill, already approved by the House of Representatives, now goes to Gov. David Ige for signature or veto.

Wikipedia Commons

The National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles is prepared for a multi-year battle in the courts and U.S. Congress to oppose Trump Administration policies that aim to restrict both legal and illegal immigration. 

PxHere

Hawaii’s coffee farmers have failed again to gain additional protections for their crop. It is a recurring issue during each year’s legislative session, which has consistently failed to gain traction.

PxHere

A legislative proposal to build affordable apartment housing on state-owned land has come back from the dead. The bill appeared to have failed back in March, but was resurrected in the closing days of the legislative session.

Ryan Finnerty

Honolulu’s Ala Wai canal is one of the most polluted waterways in the country. It’s so contaminated that in 2006, a local resident died from bacterial infection after falling into the Ala Wai boat harbor. But one local group thinks they can make the canal safe for swimming and fishing in just 7 years, without spending millions of dollars.

Robert Linsdell / Wikimedia Commons

On May 1st, a stretch of Kuhio Highway on Kauai’s North Shore will reopen to the general public for the first time in more than a year. State and County officials are rolling out a new permit system that aims to limit the human impact on one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions: the Na Pali Coast.

Wikimedia Commons

Local lawmakers are making another attempt to regulate short-term rentals. On Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council held a public hearing on the latest proposals to rein in Oahu’s vacation accommodations, like those rented on Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO.

Federal Voting Assistance Program

Problems counting mail-in ballots and an extremely small margin created chaos in the 2018 Honolulu City Council election between Tommy Waters and Trevor Ozawa. Several bills at the legislature aim to correct those problems.

Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers are scheduled to wrap up their 2019 session in less than three weeks. Friday marked a critical deadline for any bills that are still alive, a process called Second Crossover. 

John Webber / Wikimedia Commons

From the arrival of the first Polynesian settlers, to short term rentals and the tourism industry, a new book chronicles the history of human society in the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii: Eight Hundred Years of Political and Economic Change is the work of University of Hawaii economist Sumner La Croix.

Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order requiring colleges and universities that receive federal funding to guarantee protections for free speech on campus. But according to one expert, there is a long history of free speech being constraining and pushed to the limits on campuses in the U.S.

Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii lawmakers are on the path to eliminating a decades’ old exemption on corporate taxes for a certain class of real estate company. Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs, were created in Congress in 1960 and their profits are exempt from taxes by the federal government and 49 states.

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REITs Tax ExemptionBishop Museum, Flies & Biological Survey; Mayor Kirk Caldwell

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