Rail Surcharge, Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Among Key Bills Approved by Hawaii House

As the Thursday crossover deadline approaches, the House passed bills: modifying the state’s excise tax surcharge for rail, authorizing the creation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii, requiring health insurers with greater than 20 percent of the state’s small group insurance market to offer qualified health plans under the Hawaii Health Connector, and facilitating the creation of a private-public partnership for Maui’s public hospitals.

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The House also passed on to the Senate today another 200 bills including measures addressing the state’s infrastructure, local businesses and the economy, and participation and transparency in government.  The three areas reflect the focus of the House majority on improving and modernizing government that was identified at the start of the legislative session.

The House now stands in recess and will reconvene to take action on any remaining final measures for third reading on Thursday, March 12 at 12 p.m. To date, the House has approved more than 300 bills this session, which will now move to the Senate for its consideration.

Following Thursday’s crossover deadline, the House will focus its attention on HB500, relating to the state budget, which must be passed out of the committee on Finance by March 16 and voted on by the full body by March 18.

Key and topical measures passed by the House today include:

  • HB134, HD1, which removes the authority of the City and County of Honolulu to collect a tax surcharge beginning on January 1, 2016, but would allow all counties, including the City and County of Honolulu, to adopt a new tax surcharge at a rate of 0.25 per cent, beginning on January 1, 2017, and restricts the tax surcharge adopted by the City and County of Honolulu, if any, to be used for Honolulu’s rail project
  • HB321, HD1, which establishes and provides funding for medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers, mandates at least one dispensary in each county, and allows for the manufacturing of capsules, lozenges, oils and pills containing medical marijuana
  • HB1467, HD2, which enables Hawaii’s Health Connector to offer large group coverage to insurers and requires health insurers with a greater than 20 percent share of the state’s small group health insurance market to offer at least one silver and at least one gold qualified health plan as a condition for participating in the Health Connector’s individual market
  • HB1075, HD2, which authorizes the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Maui Regional System to enter into an agreement with a private entity to transition one or more of its facilities into a new private Hawaii nonprofit corporation
  • HB1112, HD2, which reconsolidates Hawaii Health Systems Corporation’s (HHSC) operational administration and oversight by eliminating regional system boards, repealing certain limits on operational authority within HHSC and amending requirements for HHSC supplemental bargaining agreements for its employees
  • HB295, HD1, which limits compelled disclosure of sources or unpublished information by journalists, newscasters and persons participating in collection or dissemination of news or information of substantial public interest (Shield Law), and establishes exceptions
  • HB940, HD1, which prohibits the use of electronic smoking devices in places where smoking is prohibited
  • HB1089, HD2, which requires motor vehicle safety inspections to be conducted every two years rather than annually for vehicles registered in a county with a population of 300,000 or less
  • HB1090, HD2, which prohibits non-compete agreements and restrictive covenants that forbid post-employment competition for employees of a technology business to stimulate economic development in Hawaii’s technology business sector
  • HB1011, HD1, which defines dangerous wheels on motor vehicles and prohibits their use
  • HB631, HD2, which establishes the documentation required when a birth registrant requests the state Department of Health to issue a new birth certificate with a sex designation change;

In addition, bills relating to the focus of the House majority on improving and modernizing government include:

INFRASTRUCTURE

Education

  • HB820, HD2, which establishes the Executive Office on Early Learning Prekindergarten Program to be administered by the Executive Office on Early Learning and provided through Department of Education public schools and public charter schools
  • HB819, HD2, which requires state and county agencies and grantees that serve youth to adopt bullying prevention policies, and establishes a task force to assist the Governor with bullying prevention policies in the state

Energy

  • HB1504, HD2, which requires the Legislative Reference Bureau to study electric utilities, including organizational models and the conversion process, and establishes a cap on the Hawaii electricity reliability surcharge for interconnection to the Hawaii electric system
  • HB623, HD2, which increases the state’s renewable portfolio standards to 70 percent by December 31, 2035, and 100 percent by December 31, 2045, and adds the impact on renewable energy developer energy prices to PUC study and reporting requirements
  • HB264, HD1, which requires the PUC to establish a process for the creation of integrated energy districts or micro-grids
  • HB1286, HD2, which amends the state’s objectives and policies relating to energy facility systems, including a policy of ensuring that fossil fuels such as liquefied natural gas be used only as a transitional, limited-term replacement of petroleum for electricity generation and not impede the development and use of renewable energy sources
  • HB1509, HD3, which requires the University of Hawaii to establish a collective goal of becoming a net-zero energy user by January 1, 2035, establishes the University of Hawaii Net-zero Special Fund, and appropriates funds for capital improvement projects and for staff
  • HB240, HD1, which expands the types of businesses qualified to receive benefits under the state enterprise zone law to include service businesses that provide air conditioning project services from seawater air conditioning district cooling systems

The Environment

  • HB1087, HD1, which establishes a task force on field-constructed underground storage tanks in Hawaii, and changes the amount of the tax deposited into the Environmental Response Revolving Fund from five cents per barrel to an unspecified amount to support environmental activities and programs
  • HB440, HD1, which appropriates funds to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources for projects related to watershed management plans, equipment for fire, natural disaster and emergency response, and forest and outdoor recreation improvement
  • HB438, HD1, which appropriates funds to the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission for restoration and preservation projects
  • HB444, HD3, which expands the scope of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Beach Restoration Plans and Beach Restoration Special Fund to include beach conservation and allocates funds from the Transient Accommodations Tax for beach restoration and conservation
  • HB620, HD2, which prohibits labeling of a plastic product as compostable unless it meets ASTM D6400 standards (American Society for Testing Materials)
  • HB722, HD2, which establishes a Lipoa Point Management Council within the state Department of Land and Natural Resources for the development of Lipoa Point, and appropriates moneys for land surveyor services, maintenance services and development of a master plan
  • HB1141, HD2, which prohibits new installation of a cesspool and new construction served by a cesspool after December 31, 2016, and authorizes the state Department of Health to develop rules for exceptions
  • HB749, which imposes on wholesalers and dealers a beach clean-up cigarette fee per cigarette sold, used or possessed, and establishes and allocates monies generated to the Beach Clean-Up Special Fund for litter removal from beach land

University of Hawaii

  • HB540, HD1, which seeks to improve the accounting and fiscal management system of the University of Hawaii by requiring the Board of Regents to submit to the Legislature before the end of each fiscal quarter a fiscal program performance report

Financial Stability

  • HB171, HD1, which appropriates funds for fiscal year 2015-2016 to be deposited into the Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund
  • HB172, HD1, which appropriates funds for fiscal year 2015-2016 to be deposited into the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund
  • HB1102, HD1, which requires the state Department of Taxation to conduct a study on modernizing the state tax collection system and submit a report to the legislature
  • HB1356, which establishes the Rate Stabilization Reserve Fund to stabilize the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund when there is insufficient money to cover the costs of providing benefits to employee-beneficiaries and dependent-beneficiaries, and caps employer contributions to the separate trust fund when the separate accounts for each public employer within the separate trust fund have a combined balance of at least $2 billion

Women

  • HB456, HD1, which provides a safe mechanism for reporting complaints regarding domestic violence when a police officer is involved
  • HB457, HD1, which appropriates funds for positions and materials to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
  • HB452, HD1, which appropriates funds to the Department of the Attorney General for statewide sexual assault counseling and support services for fiscal biennium 2015-2017 and, beginning with the 2017-2018 fiscal year, sets a minimum base budget of the state Department of the Attorney General for statewide sexual assault counseling and support services
  • HB459, HD2, which specifies additional elements in Hawaii’s existing sexuality health education law, including additional criteria regarding implementation of sexuality health education instruction, and requires the state Department of Education to provide certain types of sexuality health education information to the public and parents

Kupuna

  • HB1195, HD1, which increases the capacity of Type 1 Expanded Adult Residential Care Homes from two to three nursing facility level residents
  • HB600, HD1, which authorizes the state Department of Health to allow two private-pay individuals to be cared for in the same Community Care Foster Family home if certain requirements are met
  • HB493, HD1, which appropriates funds for a permanent full-time director and permanent full-time faculty specialist position within the University of Hawaii Center on Aging
  • HB492, which appropriates funds for the Judiciary to enter into contracts with community mediation centers for mediation services which can resolve disputes in a shorter timeframe and more economically than litigation and trial (Mediation serves two critical community needs: It increases access to justice for low income and vulnerable elderly residents to address legal disputes, and it provides the means to resolve family disputes, particularly those involving the care and needs of the elderly family member)

Consumer Protection

  • HB619, HD3, which clarifies standards and criteria for the Public Utilities Commission and Division of Consumer Advocacy to apply when determining whether to approve a sale, lease, assignment, mortgage, disposition, encumbrance, merger, or consolidation of an electric utility
  • HB737, HD2, which limits the total number of property insurance policies that an insurer may annually non-renew in a lava zone in Hawaii County during a state of emergency to 5 percent of the insurer’s policies in force, except for nonpayment of premiums or impairment of the insurer’s financial soundness and bars moratoria on residential property insurance in a lava zone in Hawaii County during a state of emergency if property insurance would be otherwise unavailable
  • HB268, HD2, which grants the director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs the power to issue cease and desist orders for the unlicensed practice of dentistry and for any other act or practice in violation of the dental licensing laws upon a specific determination that the failure to take such action may result in an immediate and unreasonable threat to personal safety or of fraud that jeopardizes or endangers the health or safety of patients or the public
  • HB1384, HD2, which requires additional Land Use Commission review for permit plan applications for wind turbines with over 100 kilowatt capacity and located within three-quarters of a mile of residential, school, hospital or business property lines

Social Safety Net

  • HB1377, HD1, which makes an appropriation to develop the specifications and pricing, as well as an implementation plan, for a web-based data system in the Early Intervention Section of the state Department of Health, and makes an appropriation for operating expenses and to establish one permanent coordinator position in the Children with Special Health Needs Branch of the Department of Health to improve social-emotional and behavioral outcomes for children birth to age five
  • HB253, HD2, which authorizes pharmacists to administer vaccines to persons between 14 and 17 years of age who have a valid prescription from the patient’s medical home
  • HB886, HD1, which extends the high-earner income tax brackets by an additional five years, raises the income tax credits provided to low-income households by the refundable food/excise tax credit and low-income household renter’s credit, and amends gross income thresholds for households qualifying for the low-income household renter’s credit
  • HB1091, HD1, which increases the standard deduction and allowable personal exemption amounts for all filing statuses, and increases the number of exemptions that may be claimed by taxpayers who are 65 years of age or older and meet certain income requirements
  • HB1295, HD1, which increases the low-income housing tax credit to 100 percent of the qualified basis for each building located in Hawaii

BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY

Agriculture

  • HB1042, which appropriates funds for grants-in-aid to the counties for assistance with identifying and mapping Important Agricultural Lands
  • HB205, HD1, which includes traditional Hawaiian farming and small-scale farming to the objectives and policies for the economy to the Hawaii State Planning Act

Invasive Species

  • HB482, HD 2, which establishes a full-time temporary program manager position in state Department of Agriculture for the Pesticide Subsidy Program

Tourism

  • HB197, HD2, which amends amount of Transient Accommodations Tax revenues allocated to the counties from a specified sum to a percentage of the revenues collected for the counties to address visitor industry impacts on county services and tourism-related infrastructure
  • HB825, HD1, which establishes licensing requirements and enforcement provisions for transient vacation rentals to be administered by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
  • HB792, HD2, which amends the Hawaii Rules of Evidence to authorize nonresident property crime victims to testify in misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor property criminal proceedings by a live two-way video connection

Economic Development

  • HB1454, HD2, which establishes a nonrefundable income tax credit for taxpayers who incur certain expenses for manufacturing products in Hawaii, starting with the taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015 (Sunsets January 1, 2023)
  • HB867, HD1, which authorizes the director of finance to issue general obligation bonds to support the Pacific International Space Center for exploration systems’ basalt rebar initiative, including construction of a basalt rebar plant and engineering assessments of the manufactured basalt rebar
  • HB1482, HD2, which establishes a crowdfunding exemption for limited intrastate investments between Hawaii residents and Hawaii businesses, limited to no more than $1,000,000 raised over a twelve month period, and no more than $5,000 per investor
  • HB1282, HD1, which appropriates monies for an engineering assessment and study for establishing a laser optical communications ground station in Hawaii to be conducted jointly by the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

IMPROVING GOVERNMENT

Elections

  • HB124, HD2, which requires the Office of Elections to implement elections by mail in a county with a population less than 100,000 beginning with the primary election in 2016 (In 2018, elections by mail will be held in one or more counties with a population of more than 100,000) and, thereafter, requires all federal, state, and county primary, special primary, general, special general and special elections to be conducted by mail
  • HB15, HD1, which creates a statewide standard for the distribution of absentee ballots
  • HB376, HD2, which specifies that the Chief Election Officer is an at-will employee, requires Elections Commission to provide notice and reason for removal of a Chief Election Officer, requires a performance evaluation of the Chief Election Officer after a general election, and requires a public hearing on the Chief Election Officer’s performance for purposes of considering reappointment
  • HB401, HD2, which provides that all applicants for a new or renewed driver’s license, provisional license, instructional permit or civil identification card must either clearly decline to register to vote or fill out the voter affidavit on their application before their application can be processed
  • HB612, HD2, which prohibits disclosure of votes cast in a postponed election, authorizes discretionary withholding of election results unrelated to postponement, clarifies Governor’s emergency postponement authority, and limits postponement period to seven days after an election

Transparency in government

  • HB1491, HD2, which requires non-candidate committees making only independent expenditures to report whether their contributors of $10,000 or more are subject to disclosure reporting requirements and provide information about the contributor’s funding sources
  • HB180, HD1, which clarifies the requirements relating to the statement of expenditures of lobbyists to be filed for a special session.

A complete list of bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at:

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2015&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

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