Hawaii House of Representatives Adjourns 2017 Legislative Session

The House of Representatives today adjourned the 2017 regular legislative session sine die.

The Legislature passed a total of 233 bills this session including measures to support for affordable housing and homelessness, reduce taxes low-income families, provide college tuition for qualifying students, support kupuna care, and fund new schools and heat abatement in classrooms.

The House today deferred action on SB1183 HD2 HD2 HCD2 to fund the City & County of Honolulu’s financially troubled rail project until the next session.

This session the House passed a State Budget that appropriates $14.1 billion in total operating funds for fiscal year 2018 and $14.3 billion for fiscal year 2019. The budget includes $2.9 billion for critical capital improvement projects in every county across the state.

More than $30 million is designated in the budget for grants-in-aid for nonprofit organizations who reach out to the community with invaluable services.

To support our low-income families the House passed HB 209 which establishes a state earned income tax credit. This will help low-income workers to keep more of what they earn.

The House passed legislation to keep Hawaii property owners protected under FEMA’s National Flood Insurance. The bill saves more than 60,000 flood insurance policies totaling over $13.4 billion throughout the state at risk of being cancelled without this bill.

Another bill established the Kupuna Caregivers Program to assist community members in obtaining care for elders while remaining in the workforce. Hawaii is the only state to offer this program.

The House funded the Hawaii Promise Program which will help qualified students with financial needs pay for in-state college tuition.

Two new schools, East Kapolei Middle School and Kihei High School on Maui, were also funded along with a new classroom building for over-crowded Campbell High School.

In response to the increasingly unmet need for rental housing, the House passed HB 1179 to provide incentives to rental housing developers by expanding the types of projects that can be exempt from general excise taxes, with the permission of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

Lawmakers also voted to support the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation’s Downpayment Loan Program to relieve the increasing burden of housing prices on first-time home buyers, and added $25 million to the Rental Housing Revolving Fund and $25 million to the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund to promote affordable rental housing.

On the environment, the House voted to expand strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide in alignment with the principles and goals adopted in the Paris Agreement.

To fight the continuing threat of invasive species, bills were passed to monitor the Rose-ringed Parakeet on Kauai, to eliminate the Little Fire Ant, and continued funding for the battle against Rapid Ohia Death.

In agriculture, lawmakers acted quickly to prevent the Rat Lungworm Disease from spreading.  They passed HB 1475 to broaden commercial operations permitted on agricultural land and allow farmers’ markets and food hubs on ag land. This bill also allows on-farm sales of produce and value-added products, a critical source of additional income for small farms.

The House voted to maintain the hemp pilot program and allow applicants to apply for permits all year long. The counties will be required to recognize industrial hemp as an agricultural product, use or activity. Certain facility and transportation requirements will be eased up to make this industry more feasible and to become a thriving industry.

For homeless people the House funded outreach and health care services and earmarked $3 million for the Housing First program. Housing First is an approach to homelessness that provides rapid housing placement, followed by support services and has proven successful in helping people to improve their lives.

The House also voted to select Representative Scott Saiki as the new House Speaker following the resignation of Speaker Joe Souki.

“Rep. Souki has been a mentor and friend for many of us in the House. He taught us what it means to serve the people of Hawaii with honor, passion and pride,” said Speaker Saiki. “He has left his mark on the State and in these Halls that will never be erased.  I want to thank him for his service, for his words of wisdom and his guidance.”

Click on this link for all bills passed during the 2017 session.

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