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Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki Responds to Governor’s Intent to Veto List

Rep. Scott K. Saiki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, issued the following statement in response to Gov. David Ige’s list of bills he intends to veto.

Rep. Scott Saiki

“After reviewing the list, the House and Senate leadership will determine whether to convene an override session to address any bills that are actually vetoed. If an override session is not warranted, members may reintroduce their bills in the 2018 session and work to address the Governor’s objections at that time,” said Speaker Saiki.

According to the Hawaii State Constitution, the Legislature may convene on or before Tuesday, July 11, 2017 in Special Session to override a veto. Specific bills may be amended and need a two-thirds vote in both chambers to pass.

On July 11, any measure that has not been signed or vetoed by Gov. Ige will become law with or without his signature.

Governor Ige to Sign New Bills Into Law Tomorrow

Hawaii Governor David Ige is scheduled to sign the following bills into law tomorrow, Thursday, June 22nd at a bill signing ceremony at the state capital building.

HB 511, HB 852: Ethics – Increases administrative fines for ethics violations, lobbying law and failure to file financial disclosure statements on time.

SB 611: Fire Sprinklers – Extends prohibition on county requirements for automatic sprinklers or sprinkler systems.

HB 1179: Rental Housing Projects – Expands the types of rental housing projects that can be exempt from general excise taxes.

SB 718: Community Courts – Establishes a community court outreach project in the City & County of Honolulu.

HB 845: Inmate Re-entry IDs – Requires the Dept. of Public Safety, various agencies, to issue civil ID cards to inmates and assist in obtaining inmates’ birth certificates, social security cards and other ID necessary for successful reentry into society.

HB 957: Heat Abatement – Authorizes the Dept. of Education to borrow moneys interest-free from the HI Green Infrastructure Loan Program for heat abatement measures at public schools.

HB 916: Loan Repayment for Health Care Professionals – Makes an appropriation for the health care provider loan repayment program administered through the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

HB 89, HB 90: Hospital and Nursing Sustainability – Continues the Hospital Sustainability and Nursing Facility Sustainability Programs for two years.

Schedule of signings:

  • 9:30 a.m.      Ethics — HB 508, HB 511, HB 852
  • 10:00 a.m.    Fire Sprinklers — SB 611
  • 10:30 a.m.    Rental Housing Projects — HB 1179
  • 11:00 a.m.    Community Courts — SB 718
  • 11:30 a.m.     Inmate Re-Entry IDs — HB 845
  • 2:30 p.m.      Heat Abatement — HB 957
  • 3:00 p.m.      Loan Repayment for Health Care Professionals — HB 916
  • 3:30 p.m.      Hospital & Nursing Sustainability — HB 89, HB 90

These signings will be streamed LIVE through the governor’s website.

Puna Community Town Hall – June 27th

An evening of legislative discussion and insight with Senator Russell Ruderman and his special guest, Senator Josh Green.Take advantage of this opportunity to weigh-in on the 2017 Legislative Session and give your input on legislation for 2018!

Additional information will be provided about participating directly in the legislative process.  Light refreshments will be served.

Democratic Party of Hawaii Votes to Accept Former Republican Representative Fukumoto Into Party

On Saturday June 17th, members of the O‘ahu County Committee (OCC) of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) voted unanimously to accept the application of Representative Beth Fukumoto to become a member of the DPH.

The vote comes as the final step in a process required by party bylaws for elected officials switching parties and after several meetings with Rep. Fukumoto, including one-on-one discussions with elected members of the party as well as State Chair Tim Vandeveer, the OCC Executive Committee, and DPH caucus members.

Dr. Rich Halverson, Chair of the O‘ahu County Committee stated “though talk of Rep. Fukumoto’s request to become a Democrat has been ongoing for months, we received her formal application less than one month ago. We were pleased to meet with Rep. Fukumoto and take this vote in a way that we felt was timely and inclusive for everyone involved.”

Of the vote, DPH State Party Chair Tim Vandeveer said “we have maintained from the beginning that we would ensure Rep. Fukumoto a fair process and that should things align and unfold accordingly, we in Democratic leadership would welcome her in. I applaud the O‘ahu County Committee for their work.”

“I firmly believed that our Party should hold Rep. Fukumoto to no stricter an ideological standard than anyone else with a ‘D’ behind their name that currently sits in the big square building” explained Vandeveer. “While I agree with the notion that we should seek to elect better Democrats and not just more Democrats, I also understand that we are a ‘big tent’ party that is welcoming of many different ideas and viewpoints. This is the balance that confronts us.”

Of the process, Rep. Fukumoto said “(Saturday)’s vote was the result of weeks of meetings and conversations with Democratic Party members about our mutual goals, passions, and how we can work together to make a better life for the people of Hawai‘i. I got involved in politics with the goal of making Hawai‘i more affordable for local families, and I’m looking forward to doing that work with the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i.”

Democratic Party of Hawaii Remarks on Hokule’a Homecoming

Tomorrow, (Saturday) June 17th, members of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) will join the thousands of Hawai‘i residents at Magic Island to honor the iconic voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a as it concludes its epic three-year sail connecting cultures and people around the world and returns home to the Hawaiian Islands.

The Democratic Party of Hawai‘i fully supported the mission of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage to weave a lei of hope around the world through sharing indigenous wisdom, groundbreaking conservation and preservation initiatives, creating global relationships, and discovering the wonders of Island Earth.

“The support and recognition of the voyaging spirit of the Hawaiian people is reflected in our platform, the proud history of our Hawaiian Affairs caucus, and even in the logo of our state party,” said DPH Chair Tim Vandeveer. “We honor and celebrate the achievements of all the Hōkūle‘a ‘ohana and welcome them home.”

The DPH Hawaiian Affairs Caucus has helped to share a set of FAQs that were developed in consultation with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the KS Hoʻokahua Cultural Vibrancy Group and invited members to participate in tomorrow’s ceremonies by doing the mele located at: www.kanaeokana.net/hokulea. https://www.facebook.com/HawaiiDems/ For more information contact: tim@hawaiidemocrats.org

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Encourages Economic Opportunity for Hawai‘i Businesses at Annual “Hawai‘i on the Hill”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke at the Hawai‘i on the Hill Policy Summit, where she thanked Hawai‘i business leaders and stakeholders for coming to Washington, D.C. and engaging with leaders to increase economic opportunity for Hawaii.  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard later visited the Fourth Annual Taste of Hawai‘i reception on Capitol Hill which featured over 70 members of Hawaii’s local business community, ranging from food and beverage companies to representatives from energy, tourism, and farming industries.

“I was honored to welcome business, community, and state leaders from Hawai‘i to Washington during this annual visit, where they showcased the great economic opportunities and achievements of our state.  They brought the aloha spirit with them, and lots of lei, making great connections and leaving a strong impression on policymakers and leaders in Washington.  I look forward to continuing to work with these great partners towards policies and opportunities that will strengthen our Hawai‘i economy,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background:

Wednesday’s policy summit ushered in the third and final day of Hawai‘i on the Hill, an event organized by the Hawai‘i Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Senator Mazie Hirono to highlight Hawaii’s contributions to the country.

Beginning with the King Kamehameha I Lei Draping Ceremony on Sunday and ending with the Taste of Hawai‘i today, Hawai‘i stakeholders, business owners, and friends of our Aloha state gathered to celebrate what makes Hawai‘i unique and special. 2017 marked the fourth consecutive year that the Hawai‘i Chamber of Commerce has partnered with local and national organizations to introduce representatives from Hawaii’s public and private sectors to federal policymakers.

Councilmember Ruggles to Introduce Proposed Property Tax Amendment

On Monday, June 5, at a Special Council Meeting, Councilmember Jen Ruggles will discuss her amendment to Mayor Kim’s proposal to raise property taxes through proposing an entirely new tax rate structure. She says her scenario will cause almost 88% of property owners to pay less taxes in the long run through exemptions compared to the Mayor’s plan, and balances the budget while not increasing the minimum tax, agricultural, and homeowner rates. Ruggles plan would increase tax rates and provides automatic exemptions for the residential, apartment, commercial, and industrial classes.

Click to enlarge

Ruggles’ plan would amend Mayor Kim’s Resolution 213-17 which raised taxes in every class except affordable rental. He’s also proposed to double the minimum tax from $100 to $200 which passed it’s first reading on May 18th. Ruggles was the only dissenting vote. “Doubling the minimum tax is a hundred percent increase on the poorest of poor, including disabled veterans and non-profits,” said Ruggles, “I want to ensure the county is not putting the burden on those who can least afford it.” An increase in the minimum tax would cause the tax payment for up to 50,188 properties to increase.

Ruggles said she’s introduced this amendment because she is concerned that across the board increases on all property owners are regressive, and her plan protects low to middle range homes and businesses. For example, 1,548 businesses in the commercial class with property valuations under $456,000 would pay average of $215 less, when compared to the Mayor’s plan, according to Ruggles’ calculations.

Ruggles’ plan would increase residential to $11.7 per thousand with a $30,000 exemption, commercial and industrial to 11.7 with a 40,000 exemption, apartment to 12.5 with a $20,000 exemption, and increase hotel, resort, and conservation to 12.5. The exemptions, if passed would become effective next year. “This means that for the first year every business assessed under $465,000 would pay a little more, and then see a net savings after the second year when the exemptions take place,” explained Ruggles, “for example, Suisan, a local business assessed at $239,000, would pay $239 more than the rates proposed by the mayor for the first year, then pay $229 less every year thereafter.”

Click to enlarge

For the apartment class, an apartment valued at $119,000 rented at Waiakea Villas would pay $136 less than the Mayor’s rate under Ruggles’ plan. However, a property in a Waikoloa Resort complex, valued at $421,200 would pay $70 more per year.

“The exemption system shields low and mid-range property values while allowing those who can afford it to pay a little more,” said Ruggles.

Ruggles amendments will be heard on Monday, June 5th, and testimony will be taken at 9am.

Rep. Gabbard and Senator Sanders Introduce “Raise the Wage Act”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-02) stood with Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate to introduce the Raise the Wage Act today.

The legislation would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 and index the minimum wage to the median wage growth thereafter. It has been 10 years since legislation was enacted increasing the federal minimum wage. When adjusted for inflation, about 40 percent of today’s workers earn less than the minimum wage in 1968. The Raise the Wage Act would give more than 41 million low-wage workers a raise, increasing the wages of almost 30 percent of the U.S. workforce.

“In my home state of Hawaiʻi, and across the country, far too many people are working one or two full-time minimum wage jobs, living in poverty, and barely scraping by. The federal minimum wage has fallen far behind inflation and has actually lost value over time, meaning working families are making less while paying more just to make ends meet. The federal minimum wage has stagnated for the last 10 years—it is long overdue for Congress to do the right thing for hard-working Americans and raise the minimum wage,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has supported legislation to raise the federal minimum wage throughout her time in Congress, and is an original cosponsor of the legislation introduced today to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She has also cosponsored legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.1869) to address wage discrimination across the United States.

Statement of Attorney General Doug Chin Regarding Today’s Fourth Circuit Ruling Against Trump Travel Ban

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction against President Donald Trump’s Revised Executive Order, dated March 6, 2017, banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations.

Attorney General Chin issued the following statement in response:

“Terrorism must be stopped, but not by sacrificing our constitutional principles or denigrating entire classes of people. Not even the President of the United States is above the U.S. Constitution.”

Today’s Fourth Circuit ruling noted that the text of the revised Executive Order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

On May 15, 2017, the State of Hawaii argued in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Hawaii federal district court Judge Derrick K. Watson’s order enjoining President Trump’s Executive Order nationwide on grounds that the Executive Order violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit’s decision in that case, Hawaii v. Trump, is still pending.

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Rejects All PAC Contributions

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard today announced that she will reject all political action committee (PAC) donations to her campaign moving forward and released the following statement regarding her decision:

“From the day I was elected to Congress, I promised myself I’d never allow money to influence the decisions I make on behalf of the people who elected me to serve them. Furthermore, I’ve refused to accept contributions from industries like Wall Street banks, Big Pharma, Tobacco, Liquor, and, more recently, Defense. However, from here on out, I’ve made the decision not to accept money from any political action committees.

“Here’s the bottom line: we cannot allow the future of our nation and our politics to be driven and shaped by special interests. Citizens United has exposed a major problem for the future of our country—there is far too much dark money influencing our politics. Our policies and our future must be driven by the American people and their interests.

“I believe in the power of the people and our ability to take action toward a brighter future. When we are informed, involved, and working together toward a common goal, we are more powerful than any special interest group. This is why we need to get corporate money and lobbyists out of politics and elevate the voices of the people of our country.”

New Hawaii House Leadership Team Empowers Women and the Next Generation

Hawaii State House Speaker Scott K. Saiki announced his full leadership team today. His new leadership team for the House of Representatives will help to empower women and the next generation of leaders at the State Capitol.

From left: Rep. Jarrett Keohokalole, Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, Rep. Mark M. Nakashima, Rep. Dee Morikawa, Rep. Della Au Belatti, House Speaker Scott Saiki, Rep. Cindy Evans, Rep. Henry J.C. Aquino, Rep. Kaniela Ing, and Rep. Justin Woodson

For the first time since statehood, three of the top four leadership positions will be filled by woman and seven of the total 11 leadership positions will be filled by lawmakers in their early 40s or younger. Representatives from all three neighbor island counties comprise nearly half of the leadership team.

From left: Rep. Dee Morikawa, Rep. Della Au Belatti, House Speaker Scott Saiki, and Rep. Cindy Evans

“As we look to build and reform the Hawaii State House of Representatives, it is important to ensure that women and the next generation of leaders are given the opportunity to lead under my tenure as Speaker. We have a real diversity of perspective and life experience in this leadership team that will position us well to lead the state on the many critical issues facing us today,” said Speaker Saiki.

The new House leadership includes:

  • Vice Speaker – Representative Della Au Belatti (District 24)
  • Majority Leader – Representative Cindy Evans (District 7), Hawaii Island
  • Majority Floor Leader – Representative Dee Morikawa (District 16), Kauai
  • Majority Policy Leaders – Representative Jarrett Keohokalole (District 48)
  • Representative Kaniela Ing (District 11), Maui
  • Majority Whips – Representative Henry J.C. Aquino (District 38)
  • Representative Aaron Ling Johanson (District 31)
  • Representative Chris Lee (District 51)
  • Representative Mark M. Nakashima (District 1), Hawaii Island
  • Representative Justin Woodson (District 9), Maui

Reps. Gabbard, Garrett Urge House to Pass Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Tom Garrett (VA-05) hosted a press conference today urging Congress to pass H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. They were joined by Beth Collins and Lisa Smith who shared their personal stories of how by providing CBD oil to their children who suffer from near-constant seizures, they risk Federal prosecution simply due to the conflicting laws between the state and Federal government. If passed, the bill would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list—treating it the same as substances like alcohol and tobacco.

Left to right: Haley Smith, Beth Collins, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Rep. Tom Garrett urge Congress to pass the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Our archaic Federal laws relating to marijuana are hurting people, tearing families apart, turning everyday Americans into criminals, and negatively impacting our economy, all at a tremendous cost to taxpayers as billions are spent on an over-burdened and broken criminal justice system. As the opioid addiction epidemic continues to spread across the country, states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen addiction rates drop and opioid abuse deaths decrease by over 20%. Medical marijuana has helped children like Haley Smith living with Dravet syndrome reduce her seizures and other symptoms. But her mother Lisa lives with the fear of Federal prosecution every day. Our current policy makes no sense. This bill is a bipartisan effort that will be a great step forward in solving many of the fiscal and social challenges that our current policy is causing, and I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supports the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform. She recently visited correctional facilities throughout Hawaiʻi, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.

This bill would also eliminate key barriers to developing an industrial hemp industry which would create jobs and provide economic opportunity to communities in Hawaiʻi, and across the country. The congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.

Statement of Support for U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono

House Speaker Scott Saiki released the following statement after hearing that U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono will be treated for kidney cancer.

“The members of the Hawaii House of Representatives send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Senator Mazie Hirono as she battles kidney cancer,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki. “Senator Hirono is both strong in spirit and in her efforts to represent the people of Hawaii. We send our thoughts and prayers to her and her family.”

Hawaii Senator Hirono: “Mr. President, what do you have to hide?”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey:

“The President’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in this manner, under this pretext, and at this time is a total disservice to the American people.

“The country is asking, Mr. President, what do you have to hide?

“There is no question that President Trump wants the investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential election, and the Trump team’s ties to those efforts, to just go away.

“Knowing this, it is hard to interpret the decision to fire Director Comey as being motivated by anything other than a desire to shut down or derail the FBI’s investigation. In fact, it only raises further suspicions about the Trump team’s ties to Russian interference in our election.

“For months, I have called for a special prosecutor and an independent investigation into this serious matter. We need a special prosecutor who will conduct an impartial, thorough investigation untainted by political considerations.”

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.

Hawaii Senate Adjourns 2017 Session

The Hawai‘i State Senate adjourned the 2017 regular session today taking action on a number of priority areas including homelessness, healthcare, education, and the environment.  These priorities align with the Senate’s commitment to the Legislative Program set forth at the start of the 2017 session.

Members of the Senate, along with their House counterparts, approved the allocation of about $40 million over the next two years on homeless programs, a top priority of the Legislative Program, including $500,000 each year for services for homeless individuals with serious and persistent mental health challenges; $800,000 for outreach and counseling services for chronically homeless individual families with severe substance use disorders and $300,000 each year for clean and sober housing for chronically homeless individuals.

Investing in our children, from preschool to college, reflects the Senate’s priority in education.  $90 million was allocated to address conditions for school facilities statewide. The Legislature passed SB423 which ensures that public school students will receive a school meal, even if the student’s meal fund account balance is zero. $1 million in general funds was appropriated in each fiscal year for the Early College High School Initiative.

Lawmakers passed measures to address our environment including funding to fight invasive species such as the Coffee Berry Borer and to provide support in the Rapid Ohia Death response.  They also passed SB559 which ensures statewide support for Hawai‘i’s green initiatives and measure the efforts being made to mitigate the effects of climate change throughout the state.

By passing HB607, Hawai‘i becomes the first state in the nation to pass legislation which authorizes a program to support those who provide care for the elderly.  In addressing a disease making headlines locally and nationally, $1 million was appropriated to address Rat Lungworm disease.

In his closing remarks, Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Dist. 8 -Kaua’i, Ni’ihau) said despite trying and difficult times during the Session, he was grateful and proud of his colleagues and Senate staff for “working as professionals each and every day.”

“I’m pleased with the work done over the last 60 days,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe).  “There were certainly challenges throughout this session, particularly in the area of the budget, where tough choices had to be made.  However, my Senate colleagues always kept in mind the best interest of the people of Hawai‘i. I’m hopeful that what issues remain unresolved at the end of this session, we can work together to find solutions and move forward.”

On the stalemate over funding for the rail project, the Senate remains open to negotiate an agreement with the House to ensure adequate financing to complete the project, yet minimize the impact on the most vulnerable citizens of the community.

Under Senate Rules and Senate Resolution 96, during the interim, the membership of each Standing Committee can be appointed by the President subject to action by the Senate. Should there be changes to a Standing Committee, the new assignments will be announced.

To view all the bills passed in the 2017 Legislative Session, visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against Republican Healthcare Bill

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after voting against the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill is opposed by the AARP, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association, the National Disability Rights Network, the AFL-CIO, the National Farmers Union, the National Education Association, among others. The bill passed the House by a vote of 217-213 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“The bill that passed today is not a healthcare bill—it’s a big handout to insurance and pharmaceutical companies. This bill slashes $880 billion from Medicaid, strips away health benefits like maternity care, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services, expands a crippling age tax on our seniors, eliminates healthcare tax credits for over 7 million veterans, and breaks the bank for those with pre-existing conditions. While corporations rake in over $600 billion in tax breaks, many low-income Americans will see their coverage drop completely. This partisan bill was rushed through, resulting in corporate benefits on the backs of the people.

“We need real healthcare reform that brings down costs, increases access to quality care, and ensures basic health services are available to all Americans. As a cosponsor of H.R.676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, I’m working towards a system that will provide universal healthcare to all Americans—a standard met by nearly every other industrialized nation.”

Earlier this week, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke against the American Health Care Act on the House floor and urged Congress to vote no.

Rep. Souki Resigns as Speaker of Hawaii House of Representatives

Representative Joseph M. Souki has resigned as Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives effective immediately.

Souki was re-elected as Speaker of the House in January 2013. He previously served as Speaker from 1993 to 1999, and Speaker Emeritus from 2000 to 2013. He also served as Chair of the Committee on Finance, and most recently as Chair of the Committee on Transportation.

Souki, a Democrat, has served in the Hawaii State House since 1982. He represents the 8th district, Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku and Waikapu on the island of Maui where he was born and raised.

See attached letter from Rep. Souki to all House Members.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes to Pass Bipartisan Funding Bill to Keep Government Open – Hawaii Gets…

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the statement below after voting to pass a bipartisan funding bill to keep the government open through September 2017:

“Today we voted to keep the government open, avoiding a disastrous government shutdown, while also including funding for many Hawaiʻi priorities that I fought for. It included funding for the East-West Center, Native Hawaiian housing, healthcare, and education programs, critical environmental protections, and clean energy initiatives. As North Korea continues to increase its nuclear and ballistic missile activity and capabilities, this bill increases funding for missile defense for Hawaiʻi to keep our communities protected. In addition, it includes provisions to allow COFA migrants to be treated at Army medical facilities in Hawaiʻi, and help ensure the federal government delivers on its promise to provide care to our COFA communities.

“In my recent tour of criminal justice facilities across Hawaiʻi, I saw firsthand how prison overcrowding has strained our resources and communities. This bill includes funding for initiatives to reduce recidivism like veteran treatment courts and the HOPE program that has had high success rates in Hawaiʻi. It also increases funding for key local law enforcement hiring, training, and community programs in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.

“As Hawaiʻi continues the process to open medical marijuana dispensaries, this bill included important language that specifies no federal funds may be used to stop states like Hawaiʻi from ‘implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.’

“From Flint, to Standing Rock, to Red Hill, it’s clear our water infrastructure nationwide is in dire need of investment and updates.  This bill invests in our clean water infrastructure, and includes funding for critical Hawaiʻi resources like the Lower Hamakua Ditch, Upcountry Maui Watershed, Lāhainā Watershed, and Wailuku-Alenaio Watershed.

“Passing this bill with bipartisan support is a positive step, and shows what is possible when both parties come together to put the people of this country above partisan politics.”

Hawaiʻi will benefit from federal funding that includes:

  • $16.7 million for the East-West Center
  • $2 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program
  • $14.4 million for the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems program
  • $47.2 million for Native Hawaiian Education programs
  • $24.5 million for the Sea-based X-band (SBX) Radar at Pearl Harbor for the continued improvement of Hawaiʻi’s missile defense capabilities
  • $12 million for the Barking Sands Tactical Underwater Range (BARSTUR) on Kauaʻi
  • $3.194 million for agricultural education grants for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Institutions
  • $222 million for the environmental restoration of formerly used defense sites, including the 117 sites in Hawaiʻi
  • $1.49 billion for community health centers nationwide, including 15 community health centers in Hawaiʻi
  • $6.5 million for the Grassroots Source Water Protection Program, which helps prevent pollution of groundwater in rural communities in Hawaiʻi and nationwide
  • $150 million for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program, which funds Hawaiʻi projects like the Lower Hamakua Ditch, Upcountry Maui Watershed, Lahaina Watershed, and Wailuku-Alenaio Watershed
  • $617 million in Department of Justice grants that support law enforcement hiring, training, and community programs in Hawaiʻi and nationwide
  • $4 million to expand Project HOPE programs to reduce recidivism in new sites nationwide
  • $7 million for Veteran Treatment Courts in Hawaiʻi and nationwide
  • Includes language allowing for funds to be used for humanitarian assistance to COFA nations, and for patients from COFA nations to receive treatment at Army medical facilities in Hawaiʻi
  • The bill also specifies that no federal funds may be used with respect to any of a number of listed States, including Hawaiʻi, to “prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Hawaii House Bills Passed on Final Reading

On the eve of the close of the 2017 legislative session, the House today approved 194 bills that address a wide range of issues, including the state budget, affordable housing, homelessness, kupuna care, taxation, agriculture, invasive species, and the environment. 

The House also approved the State Budget which now goes to Governor David Ige for his signature.

HB100 HD1SD1 CD1, the State Budget 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 capital improvement projects (CIP) over the biennium which starts July 1.

The budget funds all state department’s programs and services; CIP includes renovations, repairs, and major maintenance to existing facilities and infrastructure; and grants in aid support worthy nonprofit organizations.

Major items include $77 million for a new East Kapolei Middle School and $63 million for a new Kihei High School; $1.8 million for the Hawaii Promise Program to help cover the unmet financial needs of community college students; and $23 million to acquire 500 acres of agriculture land in Central Oahu.

Among the bills passed to support our low-income families is HB209 HC1 SD1 CD1, which establishes a state earned income tax credit mirroring the federal earned income tax credit. This will help low-income workers to keep more of what they earn.

The bill permanently extends the higher rates of the refundable food/excise tax credit which makes it less costly for those in need to afford necessities like food. The bill balances the increase in tax credits by restoring a higher income tax rate on those making more than $300,000 per year.

Highlights of the measures passed today include:

AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

HB1179 HD2 SD2 CD1, allows the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to exempt certain affordable rental housing projects from general excise tax and use tax costs.

HB83 HD1 SD2 CD1, requires the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness, in conjunction with the Department of Human Services and Department of Land and Natural Resources to establish a working group to examine and develop recommendations to the establish safe zones for persons experiencing homelessness.

HB375 HD1 SD1 CD1, appropriates a $1 million matching fund for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, working in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association for projects to address homelessness in tourist and resort areas.

EDUCATION

HB916 HD1 SD2 CD1, makes an appropriation for the health care provider loan repayment program administered through the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

SB423 SD1 HD1 CD1, prohibits denying a student a meal for failure to pay within: (1) The first 21 days of the first semester of a school year while the student’s application for free or reduced lunch is being processed; or (2) seven days after the student’s meal fund account balance is zero or negative.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

HB655 HD1 SD1 CD1, appropriates funds to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to assist and provide supplemental funds to the National Wildlife Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research the adverse effects of the rose-ringed parakeet on Kauai and develop and begin implementation of a control plan to reduce the negative impacts.

HB606 HD1 SD2 CD1, authorizes the counties, through their employees or authorized agents, to enter private property to control or eradicate invasive species and pests.

SB1240 SD2 HD1 CD1, requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to submit proposed legislation with a definition of sustainable collection practices of near shore aquatic life, a process for determining limits on collection practices of near shore aquatic life, and any additional resources required by the department. Prohibits issuance of new aquarium permits. Prohibits transfer of current permits subject to certain provisions. Prohibits renewal of permits that have not been renewed for five or more years.

PUBLIC SAFETY

HB 459 HD1 SD1 CD1, in the event an application for a firearm is rejected because the applicant is prohibited from owning a firearm or subject to a restraining order, the police department is required to notify the court, prosecutor and director of public safety.

HB478 HD1 SD1 CD1, enables the expansion of successful inmate-operated farms at the Kulani (Hawaii Island) and Waiawa (Oahu) correctional facilities.  Provides $50,000 for hiring a farm manager and $50,000 for farming equipment at each facility.

HB845 HD2 SD2 CD1, requires the Department of Public Safety to offer inmates the opportunity to obtain identification information, such as Social Security cards and birth certificates, at least 90 days prior to their release on furlough. This will enable them to more easily apply for employment.  Allots $25,000 for costs.

HB1135 HD1 SD2 CD1, enables crime victims to more easily obtain court-ordered restitution from offenders by allowing judges to order the forfeiture of cash deposited for bail or bonds, or the withholding of state income tax refunds. The measure also makes permanent several Justice Reinvestment Act initiatives to reduce recidivism and promote public safety.

SB718 SD1 HD1 CD1, enacts the Community Court Outreach Project to help deal with nonviolent, non-felony offenders by sentencing them to community service or directing them to drug abuse or mental health programs.

SB655 SD2 HD1 CD1, allows news media access into emergency zones with approval of emergency management authorities.

HB1501 HD2 SD1 CD1, reclassifies drug paraphernalia possession and delivery offenses from felonies to violations subject to a fine of no more than $500.

HB1246 HD2SD2 CD1, authorizes electronic monitoring and surveillance of offenders in programs that offer alternatives to incarceration.

SB895 SD1 HD2 CD1, establishes the offense of criminal trespass onto state lands to the penal code. Amends the offense of criminal trespass in the second degree to apply to government agricultural property regardless of whether it is fenced, enclosed, or otherwise secure.

HB554 HD1 SD2 CD1, authorizes and establishes criteria for administrative orders to provide inpatient psychiatric treatment to an involuntarily committed patient over the patient’s objection. Requires Department of Health and Department of Public Safety to make recommendations for an administrative process applicable to persons subject to DPS jurisdiction.

HB306 HD2 SD2 CD1, authorizes the fitting of a continuous alcohol monitoring device on persons charged for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant if the person: (1) Is a repeat intoxicated driver; or (2) Is currently awaiting a pending criminal investigation or prosecution for one or more prior charges of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant.

KUPUNA

HB1396 HD2 SD2 CD1, known as the “Kawamoto Bill,” authorizes the Department of Health, working in consultation with the Department of Human Services, to allow two private-pay individuals to be cared for in the same community care foster family home after consideration of specified relevant factor.

HB615 HD1 SD1 CD1, appropriates funds for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program to further the program’s important role in improving the health and well-being of Hawaii’s kupuna

HB607 HD1 SD2 CD1, authorizes the Executive Office on Aging to establish 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.

HEALTH

HB213 HD1 SD1 CD1, permits an employee to take family leave in order to care for the employee’s sibling with a serious health condition.

HB561 HD2 SD1 CD1, known as “Finley’s Law,” this bill requires dentists who administer anesthesia or sedation to post contact information to verify licensure and authorization to administer anesthesia and sedation. Specifies requirements, including inspections, for written authorization or permit to administer anesthesia or sedation.

SB505 SD1 HD2 CD1, requires prescribing healthcare providers to adopt and maintain policies for informed consent to opioid therapy in circumstances that carry elevated risk of dependency. Establishes limits for concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions. Clarifies Board of Nursing authority to enforce compliance with Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

SB513 SD1 HD2 CD1, authorizes pharmacists to prescribe and dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptive supplies to patients regardless of a previous prescription, subject to specified education and procedural requirements. Enables pharmacists to be reimbursed for prescribing and dispensing contraceptive supplies.

HB552 HD1 SD2 CD2, establishes the Affordable Health Insurance Working Group to plan for and mitigate adverse effects of the potential repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act by Congress.

SB501 SD1 HD2 CD1, requires all limited service pregnancy centers to disclose the availability of and enrollment information for reproductive health services.

HB1488 HD1 SD1 CD1, adds additional qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana patients and permits possession of additional plants. Amends requirements for and access to testing. Extends deadlines related to implementation of the dispensary system. Amends security, information tracking, and access requirements for licensed facilities. Clarifies DOH regulatory authority. Authorizes additional retail dispensing locations and plants for existing licensees. Requires DOH to report to Legislative Oversight Working Group.

AGRICULTURE

HB2 HD2 SD1 CD1, authorizes tiny homes of less than 500 square feet for farm workers in agricultural districts in a county with a population of more than 180,000 but less than 250,000. County councils may adopt ordinances for the oversight of tiny homes, as defined in this act.

HB453 HD1 SD1 CD1, requires the Department of Agriculture to provide grants to farmers to assist them in paying for the costs of compliance with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA regulations, and state food safety laws.

HB186 HD1 SD2 CD1, extends the subsidy offered to coffee farmers who purchase Beauveria bassiana products to combat the Coffee Berry Borer Beetle. This will support greater yields and a higher-quality, more valuable product.

HB1475 HD2 SD2 CD1, will broaden commercial operations permitted on agricultural land and allow farmers markets and food hubs on ag land. The bill will allow on-farm sales of produce and value-added products, a critical source of additional income for farmers.

SB773 SD2 HD1 CD1, amends the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program by restricting cultivation of industrial hemp under the pilot project to agricultural lands and requires counties to recognize it as an agricultural product, use, or activity. Allows license applications year-round.

TRANSPORTATION

HB727 HD1 SD2 CD1, authorizes the Department of Transportation to allow motorcycles and motor scooters on shoulder lanes, as determined by the department, in times of traffic congestion.

HB115 HD1 SD1 CD1, Requires each county with a population of more than 500,000 to take ownership and jurisdiction over all disputed roads under certain circumstances. Defines disputed roads.

HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS

HB451 HD1 SD2 CD1, reduces the minimum Hawaiian blood quantum requirement of certain successors to lessees of Hawaiian home lands from one-quarter to one thirty-second. Requires Congressional approval.

ENERGY

HB957 HD1 SD2 CD1, authorizes the Department of Education to borrow moneys interest-free from the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Loan Program for heat abatement measures at public schools.

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

HB942 HD1 SD1 CD1, authorizes the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to commission an artist to design and build a monument to honor and commemorate Filipino veterans of World War II, with all costs to be expended from the Works of Art Special Fund.

HB1420 HD1 SD1 CD1, appropriates funds for burial grants for qualifying Filipino-American veterans to provide funeral and burial services and transportation of their remains to the Philippines.

OTHERS

HB1516 HD1 SD1 CD1, permits duly incorporated humane societies and duly incorporated societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals to petition for full custody of an impounded pet animal or equine animal prior to the filing of certain criminal charges against the owner or custodian of the animal. Allows a pet or equine animal to be destroyed by the petitioner prior to final disposition of certain criminal charges if the pet or equine animal is a danger to itself or others. Clarifies that an acquittal or dismissal in a criminal proceeding does not preclude civil proceedings under animal cruelty offenses.

SB119 SD1 HD1 CD1, establishes a cap of 8 percent on late rent payment fees, applicable to all new rental agreements and rental agreement renewals entered into on or after the effective date of this measure. Effective November 1, 2017.

SB369 SD1 HD1 CD1, prohibits associations of apartment owners, boards of directors, managing agents, resident managers, unit owners, and persons acting on behalf of associations or unit owners from retaliating against a unit owner, board member, managing agent, resident manager, or association employee who files a complaint; acts in furtherance of a complaint, report, or investigation of an alleged violation of the state’s condominium laws or a condominium’s governing documents; or exercises or attempts to exercise any right as a unit owner.

SB207 SD2 HD2 CD1, authorizes the expenditure of general funds for a one-time lump sum cash bonus severance benefit to affected Maui region hospital employees.

Here are all bills passed by the Legislature this session (this report will be complete after all bills are sent to the governor).