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 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).

Hawaii House Approves Bills on Medical Marijuana, Criminal Trespass, Coral Reef Preservation, Birth Control, Rat Lungworm Disease and Student Meals

With about a month left in the 2017 Legislative Session, the House today passed 64 Senate bills.

They now head back to the Senate for their consideration. The majority of the bills will go into conference committees where House and Senate conferees will negotiate differences in the measures and determine which will be presented for final consideration.

Key measures passed by the House today include:

Medical Marijuana

SB 174 SD2 HD2 amends the definition of debilitating medical condition to include lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis as conditions that qualify for the legal use of medical marijuana.

Criminal Trespass

SB 895 SD1 HD 2 establishes the offense of criminal trespass onto state lands to the penal code. It also amends the offenses of criminal trespass in the second degree to apply to government agricultural property.

Coral Reefs Preservation

SB 1150 SD2 HD3 appropriates funds and requires the University of Hawaii to conduct a study on the effects of sunscreen on Hawaii’s coral reefs and report to the Legislature.

Birth Control

SB 513 SD1 HD2 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.

Rat Lungworm Disease

SB 272 SD2 HD1 appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii at Hilo for programs, studies, and activities related to the prevention and eradication of rat lungworm disease.

Student Meals

SB 423 SD1 HD1 prohibits public schools from denying a student a meal solely for the failure to pay.

A complete list of Senate bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&rpt_type=secondCross_ammend&measuretype=SB&title=Second Crossover.

Hawaii House Leadership Reacts to State of the State Address

House Speaker Joseph Souki said Gov. David Ige’s State of the State Address did not contain any real surprises, but he is happy the speech showed support for education, rail on Oahu and making adjustments to the administration’s proposed state budget.

Photo Courtesy House Democrats

“We need to collaborate to get this done. He’ll have to make some (budget) adjustments, but for the foreseeable future, the economy doesn’t look bad,” said Souki.

Souki said even though the Council on Revenues predicts less tax income for the state in the near future, the three basic elements of our economy – tourism, military support and construction – all are performing strong right now.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said he supports the governor’s goal of investing to create a better school system, but hopes to see the details of his plan flushed out in the bills he submits to the Legislature.

Hawaii House of Reps Announces 2017 Leadership

The Hawaii House of Representatives Majority Caucus met today to reaffirm Rep. Joseph M. Souki as Speaker for the 2017 legislative session.

capitalSpeaker 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.

The 2017 House leadership team includes:

  • Speaker: Joseph M. Souki
  • Speaker Emeritus: Calvin K.Y. Say
  • Vice Speaker: John M. Mizuno
  • Majority Leader: Scott K. Saiki
  • Majority Floor Leader: Cindy Evans
  • Majority Whip: Ken Ito
  • Majority Policy Leader: Marcus R. Oshiro
  • Assistant Majority Leader: Roy M. Takumi, Chris Lee, Dee Morikawa

Hawaii House of Representatives Adjourns 2016 Regular Session – Passing Several Bills

The House of Representatives today adjourned the 2016 regular legislative session, passing several remaining bills, including Senate Bill 2077, House Bill 2086, House Bill 1654 and House Bill 2543.

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SB2077 SD1 HD2 CD2 authorizes Hawaii Hospital Systems Corp. employees facing reduction-in-force or workforce restructuring to opt to receive either severance benefits or a special retirement benefit in lieu of exercising any reduction-in-force rights.  The bill is in response to the pending privatization of Maui Memorial Hospital.

HB2086 HD2 SD2 appropriates $37 million into the state highway fund as a subsidy, and requires the Governor to provide a plan to sustain the state highway fund.

HB1654 HD1 SD2 allows a permanent absentee voter to temporarily receive a ballot at an alternate address for elections within an election cycle. Clarifies that certain conditions that normally lead to a termination of permanent absentee voter status do not apply if the voter resides in an absentee ballot only area. Replaces references to facsimile ballots with references to electronically transmitted ballots. Allows a voter to receive an absentee ballot by electronic transmission if the voter requires such a ballot within five days of an election, or the voter would otherwise not be able to return a properly issued ballot by the close of polls.

HB2543 HD2 SD 1 makes permanent the requirement that the state and the counties take action within 60 days for broadband-related permit applications, take action within 145 days for use applications for broadband facilities within the conservation district, and establish other requirements regarding broadband-related permits, and weight load for utility poles to capacities established by the FCC and PUC.

Click on this link for all bills passed during the 2016 session.

During the session, the House approved major funding for affordable housing and homelessness, air conditioning and heat abatement for 1,000 classroom statewide, the largest ever disbursement to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, help for displaced Maui sugar workers and significant pay down of the state’s unfunded liabilities.

“In January, I asked you to use the momentum created from our last session to keep us and Hawaii moving forward.  During this session, you did just that with hard work and perseverance,” according to House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu) in written remarks to state representatives.

“You helped shape a budget that is fiscally prudent, forward looking, and addresses the state’s priorities on the homeless and affordable housing, our classrooms and education, our public hospitals and healthcare, our prisons and public safety, and Hawaiian Home lands and our host culture.”

Souki thanked House members for providing $100 million for air conditioning in public school classrooms, $650,000 to retrain and support displaced Maui sugar plantation workers, $2.5 million to sustain Wahiawa General Hospital, $150 million to replenish the state’s Rainy Day fund, and $81.9 to pay down unfunded liabilities (owed toward the state retirees’ post-employment benefits).

“You also put us on a path toward building affordable housing units on state owned parcels along our future rail system,” Souki wrote.  “This effort offers great potential for not just home building but community building.

“An essential part of community building is to make that community sustainable for the long term.  That’s why it was important for us to protect prime agriculture land between Wahiawa and Waialua and invest $31.5 million to purchase those lands from Dole Food Co.”

Finally, Souki thanked the representatives for providing funding to support Maui workers and their families affected by the closure of Hawaii Commercial and Sugar Company, as well as for working out a compromise measure dealing with the issue of water rights among competing interests on Maui.

“It is never an easy task to deal with competing interests and priorities,” Souki wrote.  “Each priority seems so obvious in isolation.  But the devil is never in a single priority, but always in the prioritization process itself.

“It’s easy enough to throw your hands up and call them no-win situations.  But our job is to provide leadership and make the difficult decisions.  In doing so, you may not win any popularity contest.  But you will have earned the respect and appreciation from those who see the big picture, and understand your position and your responsibility to all the people of Hawaii.”

Hawaii House of Representatives Passes More Than 100 Senate Measures on Final Crossover

The state House of Representatives passed today more than 100 Senate measures dealing with heat abatement for schools, homelessness and affordable housing, crime victims’ rights, body-worn cameras for police, the creation of a law enforcement review board, senior care facility and medical marijuana dispensary inspections, an interisland ferry study, and the Judiciary budget.

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“These bills represent a broad range of concerns for the state, from affordable housing and homelessness to interisland transportation,” said Joseph M. Souki, Speaker of the state House of Representatives.  “They address the needs of our keiki, victims of crime, medical patients, and our kupuna, and go a long way in making life and lives better in Hawaii.  I would like to thank the representatives, their staff, the state departments, the private and nonprofit organizations, and every Hawaii resident who took the time to provide input so that we could create and improve the laws that govern us all.”

Among the bills passed by the House were:

EDUCATION

SB3126 SD2 HD2, which authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and the use of funds from the Green Infrastructure Loan Program to implement and expedite cooling measures in public school classrooms, and requires the Department of Education to become net-zero with respect to energy use by January 1, 2035;

SB2624 SD2 HD1, which provides a state income tax credit for certain expenses paid or incurred by school teachers, special education teachers, school librarians, and counselors for supplementary materials used in the classroom, as well as for accompanying students for educational travel;

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

SB2833 SD2 HD2, which amends the state low-income housing tax credit and bases the amount of the tax credit on whether a building is financed by tax-exempt bonds;

SB2566 SD1 HD1, which transfers excess moneys from the rental assistance revolving fund to the rental housing revolving fund;

SB2563 SD1 HD1, which amends operations of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority and funding eligibility criteria of the Rental Housing Revolving Fund to make HPHA projects eligible for loans and grants from the Revolving Fund and granting the Authority preferences and priority in loan and grant applications.  Requires the Authority to coordinate with other state agencies in developing transit-proximate affordable housing;

PUBLIC SAFETY

SB3034 SD1 HD2, known as Marsy’s Law, which proposes a ballot question for an amendment to the Hawaii State Constitution to provide the victims of crimes with specific rights related to the criminal justice process;

SB2411 SD2 HD2, which establishes requirements, restrictions, and implementation timelines for body-worn cameras and vehicle cameras for county police departments, and appropriates funds for each county to purchase body-worn and vehicle video cameras;

SB2439 SD1 HD1, which establishes exceptions to the offense of obstructing government operations and the offense of violation of privacy in the second degree for a person making a video or audio recording or photograph of a law enforcement officer while the officer is in the performance of duties in a public place or under circumstances in which the officer has no reasonable expectation of privacy;

SB2196 SD2 HD1, which establishes a law enforcement officer independent review board within the Department of the Attorney General to investigate incidents of officer-involved death;

SB2816 SD1 HD2, which adds the offense of criminal trespass onto state lands to the penal code, amends criminal trespass in the second degree to apply to government agricultural property regardless of whether it is fenced, enclosed or otherwise secured;

HEALTH

SB2384 SD1 HD1, which requires the Department of Health to conduct unannounced visits and inspections, including inspections for relicensing and recertification, for certain state-licensed or state-certified care facilities and unannounced inspections for license renewals for medical marijuana production centers and dispensaries;

SB2181 SD2 HD2, which permits manufacturers of investigational drugs or biological products beginning on January 1, 2017, to make these drugs and products available to terminally ill patients under certain conditions;

SB2319 SD1 HD3, which requires health insurers in the state, including health benefits plans under the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund and Medicaid managed care programs, to cover reimbursement for contraceptive supplies intended to last for up to a 12-month period for an insured;

SB3084 SD1 HD2, which authorizes the state Department of Health to establish a cesspool tax credit or rebate program to facilitate cesspool conversions or improvements by residents;

TRANSPORTATION

SB2618 SD1 HD2, which directs the state Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study on establishing an interisland and intra-island ferry system;

AGRICULTURE

SB1374 SD2 HD2, which requires the Department of Agriculture to negotiate land exchanges with Dole Food Company, Inc. to conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency, and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands for the future;

HIGHER EDUCATION

SB2398 SD2 HD2, which establishes a collective bargaining unit for graduate student assistants employed by the University of Hawaii;

ENDANGERED SPECIES

SB2647 SD1 HD2, which prohibits the sale, purchase, trade, possession with intent to sell, or barter of any part or product, including ivory, from animal species that are threatened with extinction;

The House also passed the Judiciary supplemental budget.  Both chambers have until Thursday, April 14, to pass on third reading any remaining bills before the Second Crossover deadline.

Following the deadline, the amended Senate bills passed by the House, along with the amended House bills passed by the Senate, will go into conference committees where House and Senate conferees will negotiate differences in the measures and determine which will be presented for final consideration.

For more information on all of the Senate bills passed by the House so far this session, see the links to the (amended) and (unamended) bills.

Hawaii House of Reps Passes Bills on Final Reading

As the close of session quickly approaches, the House today approved bills that address a wide range of issues, including extending the rail tax for another five years, funding the Turtle Bay land purchase, and approving the state budget.

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Other significant measures that passed final reading in the House included increasing the tax state credit for low-income residents; providing additional funds for preschool for low-income families; requiring health insurers to provide coverage for children with autism; making sex trafficking a Class A felony; and establishing an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

“The House took on some tough issues relating to the rail tax, Turtle Bay and the Maui public hospitals, and worked collaboratively with the Administration and the Senate to come up with sound and reasonable solutions,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).

“We also crafted a responsible budget that addressed our long-term obligations and took care of our immediate social services needs and capital improvement requirements.”

HB500, CD1, the state budget bill, appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the current biennium, fiscal years FY2015-2016 and FY2016-2017, will now go to the Governor for his signature.  The bill includes nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

In crafting the budget, House Finance Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) looked to create a “better budget” in four ways, by: (1) limiting growth in the budget, (2) fueling economic growth through selective tax credits, (3) investing in people who need help the most, and (4) reducing the state’s unfunded liabilities and building up its Rainy Day funds.

Earlier, the House passed and sent on to the Governor a bill that raised the smoking age in Hawaii to 21 that put the state in the lead in national efforts to prevent nicotine addiction.  The bill also banned the sale and use of e-cigarettes in public places to anyone under 21.

Highlights of the measures passed include:

EDUCATION

SB64, CD1, makes an appropriation of $6,000,000 for the Preschool Open Doors Program.

HB820, CD1, establishes the Executive Office on Early Learning Public Prekindergarten Program to be administered by the Executive Office on Early Learning and provided through Department of Education public schools and public charter schools.

HB11, CD1, authorizes an additional per year bonus for teachers who maintain current national board certification under the national board certification incentive program and teach at a school in a focus, priority, or Superintendent’s Zone, as determined by the Department of Education.

SB1345, CD1, requires the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools and report to the Legislature regarding the plan and any proposed legislation. Appropriates funds to the Department of Education for the development of a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools.

SB854, CD1, requires public school lands that are leased to benefit public educational purposes rather than simply to be used for public purposes. Authorizes the Department of Education to enter into leaseback agreements.

SB374, CD1, renames the “running start program” as the “dual credit program”. Broadens participation to include ninth and tenth graders. Broadens participation to include home-schooled students for courses offered on University of Hawaii campuses. Replaces a standardized test with an assessment. Repeals tuition and fees requirement.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SB273, CD1, requires the examiner of drivers to accept a sworn statement from a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, correctional institution staff, a medical or health professional, or a verification letter from a homeless service provider as documentary evidence of a homeless person’s address. Requires the Director of Transportation’s rules to direct the examiner of drivers to waive all fees for original or renewal identification cards for homeless individuals upon verification of homeless status. Establishes a working group to develop a plan to enable homeless individuals in the State to obtain necessary documentary evidence.

KUPUNA

SB964, CD1, appropriates $3,000,000 for the Kupuna Care Program.

HEALTH AND HEALTH CONNECTOR

SB1028, CD1, appropriates $2,000,000 for the operations of the Hawaii Health Connector.

HB576, CD1, narrows the scope of work of the State Innovation Waiver Task Force to facilitate the development of an Affordable Care Act waiver in a timely manner.

SB1117, CD1, makes an emergency appropriation of $15,000,000 to support the functions of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

SB1291, CD1, prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients and caregivers by schools, landlords, courts with regard to medical care or parental rights, planned community associations, condominium property regimes, and condominiums.

SB791, CD1, requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

HB631, CD1, establishes the documentation required when requesting the Department of Health to issue a new birth certificate with a sex designation change.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

SB387, CD1, establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

HB553, CD1, allows part-time and full-time graduate student assistants employed by UH to collectively bargain their wages, hours, and other terms; provided that no collective bargaining agreement shall take effect prior to July 1, 2016. Requires UH and the relevant exclusive representatives to meet and report to the Legislature.

HB547, CD1, requires the University of Hawaii to provide guidance to students to increase the rate of on-time graduation through a Graduation Pathway System. Appropriates funds for the Graduation Pathway System and to the John A. Burns School of Medicine for repairs.

HB541, CD1, requires each UH campus to prepare an operations plan, to be reviewed by the President and VP for Budget and Finance and CFO of UH, for each fiscal year. Requires the moneys in the UH Tuition and Fees Special Fund for each UH campus to lapse to the credit of Program ID No. UOH900 (University of Hawaii, system wide support)

PUBLIC SAFETY

HB448, CD1, requires the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct reviews of domestic violence, near-deaths, and suicides, in addition to fatalities. Authorizes DOH to enter into memoranda of understanding to obtain information relating to near-deaths resulting from intimate partner violence.

HB436, CD1, amends the definition of “emergency vehicle” to include sheriff division vehicles, Hawaii emergency management agency vehicles, civil defense vehicles, DOT harbors division vehicles, DLNR division of conservation and resources enforcement vehicles, and county emergency management vehicles to require approaching vehicles to slow and change lanes when nearing the emergency vehicle when it is stopped for official duties.

SB265, CD1, replaces the term “promoting prostitution” with the term “sex trafficking,” a Class A felony.  Includes the offense of sex trafficking in the Department of the Attorney General’s statewide witness program and adds various other amendments relating to sex trafficking.

SB1211, CD1, increases the expenditure ceiling on Major Disaster Fund moneys. Increases the ceiling for additional funds required for matching federal disaster relief funds.  Requires the Adjutant General to report any allotment of fund moneys or any expenditure of fund moneys to the Legislature within one month of the allotment or expenditure. Appropriates funds for deposit into the Major Disaster Fund.

SB871, CD1, authorizes the Director of Transportation to establish reciprocal licensing privileges to any person eighteen years of age or older who holds a license from another country or state, under certain conditions. Authorizes the examiner of drivers to waive the demonstration of the ability to operate a motor vehicle for individuals with licenses from other jurisdictions who receive reciprocal licensing privileges. Repeals the driver’s license reciprocity committee.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

HB444, CD1, authorizes the use of a portion of transient accommodations tax revenues for beach restoration and conservation. Makes additional general fund appropriations for the same purpose for fiscal years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

SB284, CD1, authorizes the B&F to issue $35,000,000 in reimbursable general obligation bonds and to deposit the proceeds into the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund. Appropriates $35,000,000 out of the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund for the DLNR to acquire a conservation easement and other real property interests at Turtle Bay, Oahu. Allocates TAT revenues of $1,500,000 annually to the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund. Provides that a nonprofit land conservation organization shall file an application annually with the BLNR requesting $1,500,000 from the Land Conservation Fund to be used for the reimbursement of debt service on the Turtle Bay reimbursable general obligation bonds. Appropriates $3,000,000 out of the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund to reimburse the state general fund for payment of debt service on the reimbursable general obligation bonds.

SB359, CD1, applies the state environmental response, energy, and food security tax to fossil fuels other than petroleum products and bases the tax on one million British thermal units. Removes the sunset of the various funds related to the barrel tax. Clarifies the purposes for which the environmental response revolving fund may be used. Provides for the transfer of moneys from the environmental response revolving fund into the general fund. Requires the Director of Health to report to the Legislature information regarding the environmental response revolving fund.

AGRICULTURE

HB573, CD1, establishes and appropriates funding for the Hawaii Good Agricultural Practices Program to develop and support good agricultural practices for Hawaii farms growing agricultural food products.

SB1060, CD1, allows for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects to assist the livestock industry by establishing a low-interest biosecurity loan program within the Department of Agriculture for construction, improvements, purchase of equipment and other costs related to biosecurity projects.

SB376, CD1 establishes the Hawaii Farm to School Program and a Farm to School Coordinator position.

TAXES

SB555, CD1, increases the refundable food/excise tax credit. Repeals credit for individual taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $30,000 or above and for heads of households, married couples filing jointly, and married couples filing separately, with adjusted gross incomes of $50,000 or above. Repeals residency requirement. Applies to taxable years beginning after 12/31/2015. Repeal and reenactment on 12/31/2017.

HB134, CD1, reauthorizes the counties’ authority to establish a county surcharge on state tax for a limited time period, with the surcharge to be effective until 12/31/2027, if adopted. Requires counties to adopt an ordinance to establish or extend a surcharge prior to 7/1/2016. Limits the use of surcharge revenues by counties that have already established a county surcharge on state tax to capital costs. Expands the definition of capital costs for counties with a population greater than 500,000.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM

SB1001, CD1, establishes and appropriates funds for the manufacturing development program, through which the High Technology Development Corporation may distribute grants to Hawaii manufacturers for various activities.

SB519, CD1, authorizes fines to be deposited into the tax administration special fund. Increases the balance that may be retained in the tax administration special fund in each fiscal year. Authorizes DOTAX to enforce civil penalties for operators and plan managers who fail to display the certificate of registration and registration ID numbers for transient accommodations and resort time share vacation plans. Authorizes DOTAX to issue citations for failure to provide the registration identification number or link to the number and the contact information of the local contact in an advertisement for a transient accommodation or resort time share vacation plan. Takes effect 1/1/16.

SB892, CD1, makes various appropriations for the Hawaii resilience and sustainability strategy.

ENERGY

HB1509, CD1, requires the University of Hawaii to establish collective goal of becoming net-zero with respect to energy use by January 1, 2035.

SB717, CD1, repeals existing requirement that gasoline for motor vehicles be composed of ten per cent ethanol. Effective December 31, 2015.

HB623, CD1, which increases the state’s renewable portfolio standards to 30 percent by December 31, 2020, 70 percent by December 31, 2040, and 100 percent by December 31, 2045. Requires the Public Utilities Commission to include the impact of renewable portfolio standards, if any, on the energy prices offered by renewable energy developers and the cost fossil fuel volatility in its report to the Legislature.

SB1050, CD1, requires electric utilities to file proposed community-based renewable energy tariffs with the public utilities commission by October 1, 2015. Authorizes ratepayer participation in eligible community-based renewable energy projects. (CD1)

SB1316, CD1, establishes a working group to examine the issues regarding requests to the board of directors of an association of apartment owners, condominium association, cooperative housing corporation, or planned community association regarding the installation of electric vehicle charging systems.

SB349, CD1, establishes a five-year renewable fuels production tax credit and repeals the ethanol facility tax credit. Allows qualifying taxpayers to claim a refundable income tax credit equal to 20 cents per seventy-six thousand British thermal units of qualifying renewable fuel, capped at $3,000,000 per taxable year. Caps the credit at $3,000,000 per year in aggregate. Requires DBEDT to certify all tax credits and submit a report regarding the production and sale of qualifying renewable fuels to the governor and legislature each year. Directs DOTAX to create forms for the tax credit. Applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015.

SB1214, CD1, relating to the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds.  Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Maui Electric Company, Limited, and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

SB464, CD1, requires persons charging a consumer’s credit or debit card or account for automatic renewal or continuous service offer to first obtain the consumer’s affirmative consent. Requires acknowledgment of terms, cancellation policy, and information on how to cancel the automatic renewal or continuous service to be provided to the consumer. Requires free trial offers to clearly and conspicuously disclose how to cancel the agreement prior to the consumer being charged for goods and services.

HB261, CD1, requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to post and update information on drug formularies via a public website and toll-free number for the benefit of insureds, potential insureds, and providers. Establishes a formulary accessibility working group.

SB1009, CD1, requires hotels to distribute porterage service charges to employees in full or disclose to customers that the charges are being used for other purposes.

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

SB181, CD1, allows the Department of Education to continue, until June 30, 2020, awarding high school diplomas to qualified veterans who did not receive a high school diploma as a result of compulsory induction into active service in the armed services of the United States or any person whose high school education was interrupted due to wartime practices such as internment during World War II.

HB1153, CD1, exempts qualifying totally and permanently disabled veterans from paying the state motor vehicle registration fee. Requires the Director of the Office of Veterans’ Services to report the number of qualifying veterans to the Legislature and Department of Taxation.

TRANSPARENCY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT

SB996, CD1, appropriates funds to the State Ethics Commission to design and develop a system that allows filers to electronically file required statements and reports with the State Ethics Commission.

SB654, CD1, reduces from less than $500 to less than $100, the aggregate contribution amount a candidate may receive from ten or more anonymous persons at the same political function. Takes effect on 1/1/2016.

HB179, CD1, specifies the in-state mailing address in a voter’s registration record as the forwarding address for receiving absentee ballots permanently. Requires voters seeking to have permanent absentee ballots forwarded to another address to re-apply for an absentee ballot.

SB508, CD1, requires noncandidate committees to file an additional preliminary report on October 1 of each general election year.

HB15, CD1, 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. Requires a public hearing on the Chief Election Officer’s performance for purposes of considering reappointment. Creates a statewide standard for the distribution of absentee ballots.

HB1491, CD1, strengthens reporting requirements for organizational reports, noncandidate reports, and late contributions reports submitted by noncandidate committees making or receiving large contributions.

FISCAL INITIATIVES

SB254, CD1, requires information on the estimated operational costs of proposed capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance costs of state-owned buildings, facilities, and other improvements to be summarized in the multi-year program and financial plan and supplemental budget, as applicable. Intends that the requirement apply to the judiciary. Effective 7/1/2016.

HB1140, CD1, provides a temporary income tax credit for the cost of upgrading or converting a qualified cesspool to a septic system or an aerobic treatment unit system, or connecting to a sewer system. Permits DOH, as a pilot program, to certify no more than 2 residential large capacity cesspools as qualified cesspools. Defines terms. Effective 7/1/2015. Sunsets 12/31/2020.

SB1312, CD1, appropriates $10,000,000 from the general revenues into the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund in FY 2014-2015 to comply with article VII, section 6, of the Hawaii State Constitution, which requires, under certain economic conditions, that the legislature provide a tax credit to state taxpayers or make a deposit into one or more funds.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

SB1177, CD1, appropriates funds to establish four full-time equivalent positions with the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to address the findings contained in Auditor’s Report No. 14-11, that the Foundation needs to improve its management to ensure the accountability, accessibility, and protection of the Foundation’s resources.

OTHERS

SB868, CD1, authorizes county liquor commissions to prescribe regulations on dancing in establishments licensed to serve alcohol. Requires liquor commissions that do regulate dancing to adopt or amend administrative rules, no later than October 1, 2015, regarding dancing in premises licensed to sell liquor for consumption thereon and include a definition of “dancing” in those rules.

HB1090, HD2, 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.

HB1366, CD1, appropriates $500,000 to perform due diligence, plan, and enter into negotiations to acquire the Alii Place building in Downtown Honolulu to provide office space for state governmental agencies and offices.

Hawaii House Leadership and Committee Assignments Announced

House Speaker Joseph M. Souki today announced the appointments of the House of Representatives Majority leadership lineup for the 28th Legislature which convenes on January 21, 2015.

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“The team that we have formed represents the kind of talents and abilities that will best serve our residents and will address the issues facing our state,” said Speaker Souki. “We look forward to engaging in meaningful discussions with Governor-elect David Ige and his administration to continue to identify ideas and solutions to help Hawaii move forward.”

Members of the House Leadership are as follows:

  • Speaker of the House              Joseph M. Souki
  • Vice Speaker                           John M. Mizuno
  • Majority Leader                      Scott K. Saiki
  • Majority Floor Leader             Cindy Evans
  • Majority Whip                         Ken Ito
  • Asst. Majority Leader             Chris Lee
  • Asst. Majority Leader             Roy M. Takumi
  • Speaker Emeritus                    Calvin K.Y. Say

2015 House Committee Chairpersons:

  • Agriculture (AGR)

Clift Tsuji, Chair

Richard H.K. Onishi, Vice Chair

  • Economic Development & Business (EDB)

Derek S.K. Kawakami, Chair

Sam Kong, Vice Chair

  • Veterans, Military & International Affairs (VMI)

Romy M. Cachola, Chair

Ken Ito, Vice Chair

  • Tourism & Culture and the Arts (TCA)

Tom Brower, Chair

Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

 

  • Labor & Public Employment (LAB)

Mark M. Nakashima, Chair

Jarrett Keohokalole, Vice Chair

 

  • Public Safety (PBS)

Gregg Takayama, Chair

Kyle T. Yamashita, Vice Chair

 

  • Transportation, (TRN)

Henry J.C. Aquino, Chair

Matthew LoPresti, Vice Chair

 

  • Health (HLT)

Della Au Belatti, Chair

Dee Morikawa, Vice Chair

 

  • Housing (HSG)

Mark J. Hashem, Chair

Richard Creagan, Vice Chair

 

  • Human Services (HUS)

Mele Carroll, Chair

Bertrand Kobayashi, Vice Chair

 

  • Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP)

Chris Lee, Chair

Nicole E. Lowen, Vice Chair

 

  • Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH)

Kaniela Ing, Chair

Nicole E. Lowen, Vice Chair

 

  • Water & Land (WAL)

Ryan I. Yamane, Chair

Ty J.K. Cullen, Vice Chair

 

  • Education (EDN)

Roy M. Takumi, Chair

Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

 

  • Higher Education, (HED)

Isaac W. Choy, Chair

Linda Ichiyama, Vice Chair

 

  • Finance (FIN)

Sylvia Luke, Chair

Scott Y. Nishimoto, Vice Chair

 

  • Legislative Management (LMG)

Scott Y. Nishimoto, Chair

John M. Mizuno, Vice Chair

 

  • Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)

Angus L.K. McKelvey, Chair

Justin H. Woodson, Vice Chair

 

  • Judiciary (JUD)

Karl Rhoads, Chair

Joy San Buenaventura, Vice Chair

State House of Representatives Appoints Deputy Director of Communications

William Nhieu has been appointed the Deputy Director of Communications for the Hawaii State House of Representatives.

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Nhieu has a range of administrative, legislative, analytical, and public relations experience gained from positions across public and government affairs. In addition to working in local government, he has broad experience in the effective use and implementation of social and emerging media communications.

Past positions include serving as a Po’okela Fellow and Neighborhood Assistant at the City and County of Honolulu, Legislative Aide to Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, and Committee Clerk for the Hawaii Senate Special Committee on Accountability and the Hawaii State Senate Committee on Tourism.

“William represents the upcoming generation of young professionals with the skills necessary to keep up with progressing technological trends in the new 21st century workplace. With his knowledge and experience, the State House will be better positioned to reach an audience across the entire state of Hawaii,” said Director of Communications Carolyn Tanaka.

 

Controversial Public Lands Development Corporation Abolished – Lawmakers Vote to Repeal Legislation That Created the Corporation

The Hawaii House of Representatives today unanimously passed HB1133, SD2 that repeals the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC). The bill now heads to the Governor for his consideration.

capitalThe PLDC was created in 2011 to develop state lands through public-private partnerships and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.  However, growing public concern over the corporation’s broad exemptions from land use laws, county zoning laws, and construction standards erupted into strong, statewide opposition and calls to repeal the PLDC.

Early in the 2013 legislative session, Hawaii Island Representative Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala) introduced HB1133 calling for an outright repeal of the PLDC. The bill was unanimously approved by the House and sent to the Senate where it was also approved.

Evans noted that by repealing the PLDC, lawmakers today changed the work of the 2011 Legislature.”I believe we have listened to the people and responsibly debated HB 1133.  This vote today is a vote for ethical management of our natural resources,” Evans said.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki (McCully, Kaheka, Kakaako, Downtown) voted against the original 2011 legislation that created the PLDC.  Today, in voting to repeal the corporation he said, “We know that government plays a pivotal role in facilitating economic development, but that entails responsible development.  The PLDC failed because it went too far and unchecked.”

Several other members of the House also spoke in strong support of the bill with many of them citing repeal as the right thing to do, including Hawaii Island and first year Representative, Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau).

“Society is healthiest when its citizens are confident their leaders are acting in their interest and this repeal is a step in the right direction,” Lowen said.

 

Hawaii House Approves Gender Equity Amendment

Hawaii Island Representative Cindy Evans Successfully Amends Bill Relating to Boards and Commissions

The House of Representatives today approved SB858 which included an amendment to add a gender equity section . It was introduced by Representative Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala) and asks that appointing authorities for boards and commissions strive to achieve the goal of equal gender representation.

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The section reads:

“The governor or relevant appointing authority, as far as practicable, shall strive for the goal of equal gender representation when appointing members to boards and commissions and shall give priority to achieving the goal of gender equity when appointing members to vacancies, at-large positions, and as alternates.”

“The amendment is a policy statement requesting the appointing authority to strive to achieve gender equality, it is not a mandate.  While I realize that qualified individuals need to sit on boards and commissions the glaring discrepancies in the makeup of these boards and commissions need to also be recognized and addressed,” said Evans.

“Half of our State’s population is female and working.  Yet there exists great disparities on several boards and commissions responsible for overseeing our industries and institutions that play significant roles in Hawaii.  For example, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents has 12 male members and 3 females; The Hawaii Tourism authority has 10 males and 2 females; and the Land Use Commission has 8 males and 1 female.  We need to be mindful of under representation and strive to correct it where it occurs,” noted Evans.

Hawaii House Passes Bills Supporting Labor, Big Island Initiatives

A number of the bills passed by the House and now referred to Senate committees were introduced by Representative Mark Nakashima, District 1 (Hamakua, North Hilo, Rural South Hilo). This year, Nakashima has the added responsibility of serving as Chair of the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment.

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“Under the leadership of House Speaker Joseph Souki, I am privileged to serve as Chair of Labor and Public Employment, which has jurisdiction on many critical issues impacting our families including the minimum wage, sick leave, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and collective bargaining, said Nakashima.

Nakashima said he was pleased these measures were approved by the House and added, “I also am continuing my efforts to create a more self-sufficient Hawaii. Since my election to the House in 2008, I have supported a platform that includes energy self-sufficiency, agricultural sustainability, and economic independence.”

Listed below are several key bills on labor, energy self sufficiency, and economic independence introduced and supported by Representative Nakashima:

  • HB 1028 HD2 that spreads out the increase in the minimum wage across three years instead of immediately spiking up $1.50 on January 1, 2014. Unemployment premium relief was also extended to allow businesses to more fully recover.
  • HB 152 HD1, which would increase the fee reimbursement schedule to 130% of Medicare resource base to encourage doctors to take workers compensation patients.
  • HB 435 HD1would establish the Office of Talent Management within the Department of Human Resources Development to design and facilitate state initiatives in the areas of talent administration, professional development, performance management, and leadership enterprise. The measure authorizes the talent management administrator to receive from any state agency services, facilities, and the data necessary.

Related to energy self-sufficiency:

  • HB 450 HD1 would require the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) to establish a hydrogen fueling station demonstration project in qualifying counties. The hydrogen will be produced from renewable sources of energy, such as geothermal. This will further develop the capability of Hawaii Island as well as the State to utilize renewable energy for ground transportation in addition to generating electricity.

Related to agricultural sustainability:

  • HB 749 would establish the Hawaii Agriculture Workforce Advisory Board, which would help support the local agricultural industry by securing the employment pipeline from school to farm. This would be achieved through support of school gardening programs, the Future Farmers’ of America, and Agriculture teacher in service training.
  • HB 414 HD2 would establish a Waipio Valley Commission to advise the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) on the development of a long term plan to ensure the proper stewardship and maintenance of Waipio Valley. The bill also appropriates funds to implement a stream maintenance program recommended by the Mauna Kea Soil and Water Conservation Service.

Related to economic independence:

  • HB 750 HD2 seeks to create the Hawaii Island Technology Exchange Institute. To be successful in the twenty-first century global economy, Hawaii must position itself as a leader in science and technology, in particular, technology development, transfer, and commercialization. HB750 will establish the Hawaii Island Technology Exchange Institute at the University of Hawaii at Hilo through a collaboration between UH Hilo and Hawaii Community College.
  • HB 417 HD2 seeks to address the shortage of primary care providers and improve access to healthcare in general by appropriating funds for the interdisciplinary Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Primary Care Training Program at Hilo Medical Center by funding the medical residency program and allied medical support services training.

A final, but very significant measure, HCR 42, was passed by both the House and the Senate.

  • HCR 42 requesting the Department of Transportation to designate, when appropriate, Route 200 on the Island of Hawaii as the Daniel K. Inouye Legacy Highway. In honor of the decades of dedicated service, sacrifice and leadership demonstrated by Senator Daniel K. Inouye, we propose naming Route 200, or Saddle Road, on Hawaii Island in the Senator’s name. The resolution passed and is now awaiting action by the Senate.

Hawaii House Passes Measure to Examine Ways to Provide Transportation to Elderly and Disabled

The Hawaii House of Representatives unanimously passed HB131 HD2, which will create a Task Force on Mobility Management within the State Department of Health to establish a framework to assist elders and individuals with disabilities with transportation needs in rural communities.

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Across Hawaii, especially on the neighbor islands, there is a need for a state-wide policy on mobility management to create a plan to assist individuals without sufficient access to transportation and identify the best transportation options, both public and private, for their travel needs.

The bill has received support from the Governor’s Executive Office on Aging, Representatives from Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai and their respective County Offices’ on Aging (Maui County Office on Aging, Hawaii County Office of Aging, and the Kauai Agency on Elderly Affairs).

“Transportation is vital to seniors and those with disabilities; it allows them to maintain their independent lifestyle and access critical services such as medical appointments,” said the bill’s introducer Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala). “It is time for us to work on finding the best solutions to address mobility, especially in rural areas where transportation options are extremely limited and many residents are without family members nearby to provide transportation and are too frail or disabled to access public transit.”

 

Hawaii House of Representatives Moves 69 Bills Over to Senate

The Hawaii House of Representatives moved 69 Bills over to the Senate for consideration.

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Among the measures approved by the House several focused on  sustainability, the environment, the economy,  healthy living and improving the quality of life of Hawaii’s citizens.

  • HB 503 Relating to the General Excise Tax.  The bill provides local farmers with a tax deduction for all produce grown and sold within the state.
  • HB 478 Relating to the Department of Education.  The bill allows schools to establish their own gardens and to utilize the produce in their meal programs.
  • HB 560 Relating to Affordable Housing Urban Gardening.  The bill encourages development projects to incorporate urban gardening into their plans.
  • HB 1365 Relating to Urban Agriculture.  The bill  allows for a rooftop garden on the State Capitol roof to promote agricultural innovation and greater food security in Hawaii and  serve as a symbol of the importance our  the State places on agriculture sustainability.
  • HB 726 Relating to Film and Digital Media Industry Development.  The purpose of the bill is to encourage new film, television, entertainment, digital media and music video production in Hawaii by enhancing existing incentives and thus adding to the diversification of our economy.
  • HB 1339 Relating to the Transient Accommodations Tax.  The bill intends to help the tourism industry retain its competitive edge in its promotional and marketing efforts by repealing the $10 daily hotel tax collected on rooms furnished on a complimentary or gratuitous basis.
  • HB120 Relating to Health.  The bill protects the health and safety of the public by enhancing public access regarding information on care homes.
  • HB 358 Relating to Video Conferencing.  The bill would make it more accessible for neighbor  island residents to participate in state government.  It requires that the legislature establish audio visual procedures for people on the neighbor islands to provide oral testimony at legislative committee hearings.
  • HB 1432 Relating to Aging and Disability Resource Centers.  The bill would support the elderly and aging population by appropriating an unspecified amount of funds to statewide aging and disability centers.

House Passes State Budget, Other Measures on the Final Day of the 2012 Legislative Session

The Hawaii House of Representatives today took action on its final bills of the session. One of the major bills discussed and approved was the supplemental state budget, which addresses the state’s most basic needs, particularly in human services, education, and agriculture.

“This session, as we come out of the Great Recession, the House focused on economic recovery, assisting new industry and job creation,” said Speaker Calvin Say. “We passed a balanced budget that supports programs and services vital to serving Hawaii’s people, as well as other legislation that supports long-term planning and accountability to improve government services.”

House Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro, during his floor remarks, noted the top ten reasons his colleagues should vote yes on a budget that moves to “reprioritize, rehabilitate, and renew” the character and delivery of government services. They are:

  1. $250,000 to develop an Early Childhood Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Program for the state, one of the Governor’s initiatives
  2. $1.0 million for the Freeway Service Patrol on Oahu, which starts at Fort Weaver Road, and will extend coverage to Ainakoa Street
  3. $1.4 million and 19 positions for staffing shortages – electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and housing specialists – who will get uninhabitable rental units repaired for waitlisted applicants without a roof over their heads
  4. $2.5 million to launch the Watershed Initiative, a program to protect priority watersheds throughout the State
  5. $3.3 million for Hawaii’s adult education program will provide GED, English as a second language, and competency-based programs necessary to attain a degree
  6. $3.4 for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative to bring prisoners home from out of state, provide rehabilitation services, and strengthen victims assistance programs at both the state and county levels
  7. $22.9 million for Medicaid capitation payments will maintain critical access to health care for those in need of a safety net
  8. $26.4 million for the continued construction of UH-West Oahu, and $3.3 million for a bookstore, dining and catering services, and parking lot management at the new Kapolei campus opening in August
  9. $700,000 for the statewide institutionalization of the Na Pua No’eau Program, a successful program that provides educational opportunities for Native Hawaiian children and emphasizes a college education within the University’s system
  10. $14.0 million for the weighted student formula will ensure student support in the classroom.

Rep. Oshiro also shared his disappointment in the missed opportunity to begin addressing the long-term cost of retirement benefits for state workers. The House’s position this session was to put a $50 million down payment on the unfunded liability in the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, but was unable to get agreement during budget negotiations.

“The longer we wait to set aside any money for this obligation, the more expensive it will become,” said Rep. Oshiro during his floor remarks on the budget bill. “We will no longer be arguing about how much to spend on human services programs, agriculture or education. The only thing we will be paying for will be the fixed costs of government – debt service, Medicaid, and retirement benefits – pension and health care – for government employees.”

Notable Measures that passed today

  • HB2319 Venture Accelerator Program.  HB2319 establishes a venture accelerator funding program under the Hawaii strategic development corporation to assist the State’s technology businesses to compete for investment capital.
  • HB2873 PISCES. HB2873 transfers the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) from the University of Hawaii to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s Office of Aerospace Development, and establishes a PISCES board of directors. In addition, SB112 Space Tourism, appropriates funds for the application of a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration to establish space tourism in Hawaii, subject to matching federal funds on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
  • HB1953 Emergency Medical Care. HB1953 provides for the medical needs of Leeward Oahu in light of the closure of Hawaii Medical Center’s two hospitals, by appropriating $1 million to increase the on-call availability of emergency medical services and ambulance services.
  • SB2939 Revenue bonds for St. Francis. SB2939 authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds of up to $80,000,000, for St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii to finance the construction, improvement, and equipment of certain Hawaii Medical Center East facilities.
  • HB2275 Hospital Sustainability Fee. HB2275 ensures access to health care for Medicaid recipients by establishing a hospital sustainability fee on public and private hospitals to attract matching federal funds.
  • HB2740 Extending Sunset Provision on Naptha Fuel Tax. HB2740 extends the sunset provision relating to the reduction of the fuel tax on naptha sold for use in a power-generating facility through 2015. This extension is key for the people of Hawaii, providing much needed assistance to counter the rising cost of fuel.
  • HB2626 Safe Routes to School. HB2626 establishes the Safe Routes to School Program within the Department of Transportation and establishes a Safe Routes to School Program Special Fund. A surcharge of $25 for speeding violations in a school zone and a $10 surcharge on various other traffic violations occurring in a school zone will be deposited into the Safe Routes to School Program Special Fund.
  • SB2115 Charter School Reform.  SB2115 establishes a new chapter governing charter schools based on the recommendations of the Charter School Governance, Accountability, and Authority Task Force established by Act 130, Session Laws of Hawaii 2011.  The intent of the Act is to establish a new charter school law that creates a solid governance structure for Hawaii’s charter school system with clear lines of authority and accountability that will foster improved student outcomes.
  • SB2545 Early learning. SB2545 establishes the early learning advisory board to replace the early learning council and eliminates junior kindergarten programs with the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. Students are required to be five years of age on July 31 of the school year in order to attend kindergarten.
  • HB1755 Electronic Voter Registration. HB1755 updates voter registration laws, including authorizing the acceptance of electronic applications to register to vote, beginning with the primary election of 2016. It appropriates $500,000 for an online voter registration system.
  • SB2220 Boiler and Elevator Safety.  SB2220 establishes the boiler and elevator special fund to collect and deposit fees for inspections, permits, and examinations of boilers, pressure systems, elevators, kindred equipment, and amusement rides. The purpose of the bill is to address the backlog of safety inspections.  It provides for sufficient operating costs to carry out the purpose of the boiler and elevator safety law.
  • HB2226 Victim Notification. Codifies the Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification System and establishes an Automated Victim Information and Notification System Special Fund.
  • HB2113 Aerial Fireworks.  Bans the ignition, possession, selling, offering for sale, and use of aerial luminaries.

The governor has 45 days from the time a bill was received to veto it, sign it into law, or allow it to pass into law without his signature.

In his closing speech today, Speaker Say also recapped important bills that passed earlier in the session.  Here is an excerpt:

“At the beginning of the session, the Legislature proceeded to move bills to address imminent problems.  Three bills were reported out of carryover conference committees, passed by both houses, and signed into law in February by the Governor.  HB 608, which became Act 1, provided state assistance to The Queen’s Medical Center for an organ transplant center in the wake of the closure of the Hawaii Medical Center.  SB 239, which became Act 2, extended the funding of the John A. Burns School of Medicine with tobacco settlement funds, an action necessary for the viability of the School.  HB 809, which became Act 3, authorized the University of Hawaii to issue $100 million more in revenue bonds, an action intended to fund construction projects for economic revitalization.

Through January and February, the Legislature fast tracked HB 2096, a bill to prevent a substantial increase during 2012 of the unemployment insurance contribution rates for businesses.  If not for the bill, businesses would have had to absorb a multi-million dollar increase in their unemployment insurance contributions, diverting capital from other more productive purposes.  HB 2096 was passed by the Legislature and, on March 9, signed by the Governor as Act 6.Perhaps most notable of the early session accomplishments, the Legislature expedited the passage of SB 2783, the OHA public land trust agreement.  Passage of such legislation had eluded the Legislature for many years.  This session was different because of the prevailing spirit of cooperation.  At the urging of Governor Abercrombie and OHA, the Legislature passed SB 2783, and it was signed into law as Act 15 on April 4.

You should all be proud of yourselves for the early session accomplishments.  They make an impressive resume by themselves.”

Derek Kawakami Appointed as New Member of Hawaii House of Representatives

Replaces Hermina Morita who stepped down to become PUC Chair

Media Release:

Derek Kawakami, former Kauai County Councilmember, has been appointed as the newest member of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

Derek Kawakami

Kawakami was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to fill the vacant seat of former Representative Hermina Morita, District 14 – Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Kapaa, Waipouli, with a term expiring November 6, 2012.  Morita stepped down after the Governor appointed and the State Senate confirmed her as the Public Utilities Commission Chair.

“I am pleased to welcome Derek Kawakami to the House of Representatives,” said Speaker of the House Calvin K.Y. Say.  “Mr. Kawakami joins the legislature during a critical session, with our main focus on balancing the budget and revitalizing the economy.  He has already proven his dedication to the public good through his service on the Kauai County Council.

Rep. Kawakami’s committee assignments will be set later this week.  He can be reached at the State Capitol in Room 314, 808-586-8435, repkawakami@capitol.hawaii.gov.