Souki Highlights Progress as 2013 Session Nears End
By Wendy Osher
House Speaker Joe Souki of Maui highlighted progress made to date as the 2013 legislative session nears an end.
“With the actions we have taken today, our kupuna will be better protected from financial abuse and better supported by a variety of programs and services,” said Rep. Souki in a press release announcing key bills that gained passage.
Senate Bill 102 SD2 HD1 CD1, relating to the elderly, was among the more than 100 bills that were passed by the state House.
Under the measure, financial institutions are required to report instances of suspected financial abuse of the elderly directly to the appropriate county police department and the Department of Human Services.
Another bill, relating to renewable energy, allows renters to save on electricity through the installation of solar panels, while landlords enjoy the investment opportunity of added value to their property.
Rep. Souki also highlighted SB593, a food security measure that expands livestock feed subsidies to include milking goats, goats raised for meat, sheep, lamb, fish, and crustaceans. The financial support, lawmakers say, will enable the livestock industry to stabilize operations.
“We will be able to support food sustainability and encourage our young people to enter the farming profession with expanded incentives,” said Rep. Souki.
“We are also putting $160 million back into the hurricane relief fund and $50 million into the rainy day fund over the next biennium,” he said.
According to information released by the House, a schedule is also being set up to re-establish appropriate levels to the Hawaiʻi Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund “to ensure the state’s financial standing remains strong.”
House lawmakers say the focus this session was on “long-term needs” including reduction of fiscal liabilities, repaying reserve funds, and promoting economic development.
The state House of Representatives released a list of additional key measures that have gained passage in recent days. The list includes the following:
- SB1087 SD2 HD3 CD1 Relating to Green Infrastructure: Establishes a regulatory financing structure to provide low-cost loans for green infrastructure equipment.
- SB1084 SD1 HD1 CD1 Proposing an Amendment to the State Constitution to Permit the Appropriation of Public Funds for Private Early Childhood Education Programs: Proposes a constitutional amendment to permit the appropriation of public funds for private early childhood education programs, subject to non-discrimination provisions, as provided by law.
- SB1093 SD2 HD2 CD1 Relating to School Readiness: Establishes the Open Doors program within the Department of Human Services. The purpose of the Act is to develop Open Doors as the statewide School Readiness Program.
- SB237 SD2 HD1 CD1 Relating to Public School Lands: Establishes a pilot program to generate revenue through the lease of public school lands for public purposes. The purpose of this Act is to optimize the use of public school lands to generate opportunities to improve school facilities and infrastructure to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Any redevelopment shall comply with county plans, ordinances, and zoning and development codes and mandates community input.
- SB563 SD3 HD2 CD1 Relating to the University of Hawaiʻi: Amends the form and function of the Candidate Advisory Council for the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaiʻi. The purpose of this Act is to increase the consideration and appointment of qualified individuals to serve as members of the Board of Regents.
- HB114 HD3 SD2 CD1 Relating to Higher Education: Requires the Administrator of the State Procurement Office, rather than the University of Hawaiʻi president, to serve as the university’s chief procurement officer for construction.
- HB726 HD1 SD2 CD1 Relating to Film and Digital Media Industry Development: The purpose of this Act is to encourage the growth of the film and creative media industries by providing enhanced tax incentives.
- HB858 HD1 SD1 CD1 Relating to HI Growth Initiative: Appropriates funds for the HI Growth Initiative, an investment program to develop an ecosystem supporting high-growth entrepreneurial companies in the state.
- SB993 SD2 HD1 CD1 Relating to Agricultural Loans: The purpose of this Act is to establish enhancements in the agricultural loan program. To provide incentives to the younger generation to enter into and to continue farming by adding farm innovation loans,
- SB757 SD2 HD2 CD1 Relating to Agriculture: Appropriates funds to the Department of Education to operate and implement the Future Farmers of America program.
- SB642 HD2 CD1 Relating to Health: The purpose of this measure is to amend the medical use of marijuana law to address the concerns of Hawaiʻi’s seriously ill patients.
- HB668 HD2 SD2 CD1 Relating to Health: Authorizes transfer of the medical use of marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health.
- HB672 HD2 SD2 CD1 Relating to Health: Prohibits the sale and purchase of electronic smoking devices to minors under 18 years of age.
- SB106 SD1 HD1 CD1 Relating to Aging: Establishes and funds a position for an Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Services coordinator. Appropriates funds for programs and services that support the state’s elderly population. Establishes the Task Force on Mobility Management.
- SB548 SD1 HD2 CD1 Relating to Tele-Medicine: Exempts from licensing requirements in the state any commissioned medical officer or psychologist employed by the US Department of Defense, who is credentialed by Tripler Army Medical Center, while providing direct telemedicine support or services to neighbor island beneficiaries.
- SB551 SD2 HD1 CD1 Relating to a Memorial: Directs the Office of Veterans Services to develop a plan to establish a memorial honoring the veterans of the Persian Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Global War on Terrorism, Homeland Defense, and Operation Noble Eagle, and those who have protected our borders by land, sea, and air.
- SB515 SD2 HD1 CD1 Relating to Housing: The purpose of the legislation is to better assist individuals facing or experiencing homelessness by funding various homeless and housing programs. The bill also provides for substance abuse treatment and mental health support services.
- SB1340 SD2 HD2 CD1 Relating to Foster Care: Establishes the young adult voluntary foster care program to care for and supervise eligible foster youth until age 21.
- SB535 SD1 HD2 CD1 Relating to Labor: Establishes basic rights and protections for domestic workers.
- SB69 SD2 HD1 CD1 Relating to Firearms: Requires county police departments under certain conditions to fingerprint, photograph, and perform background checks on individuals who wish to register a firearm that was procured out-of-state
- SB978 HD1 CD1 Relating to the Penal Code: Makes the offense of cruelty to animals in the second degree involving 10 or more pet animals in any one instance a class C felony.
- SB635 SD1 HD3 CD1 Relating to Animal Cruelty: Amends offenses of causing injury or death to a service dog and intentional interference with the use of a service dog to include law enforcement animals. Adds a definition of “law enforcement animal” to the Penal Code.
- SB1092 SD1 HD1 CD1 Making an Appropriation to Recapitalize the Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund: Makes a general fund appropriation of $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2013-2014 to recapitalize the hurricane reserve trust fund.
- SB1094 SD1 HD1 CD1 Making an Appropriation to the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund: Makes a general fund appropriation of $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2013-2014 to recapitalize the emergency and budget reserve fund.
- HB546 HD2 SD2 CD1 Relating to the Hawaiʻi Employers Union Health Benefits Trust Fund: Establishes the Hawaiʻi employer-union health benefits trust fund task force to examine the unfunded liability of the EUTF. Requires the annual public employer contribution to be equal to the amount determined by an actuary commencing with FY 2018-2019.
- SB1194 SD2 HD1 CD1 Relating to Transient Accommodations Tax: Makes permanent the transient accommodation tax rate of 9.25%. Includes an $11 million increase to the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority to strengthen marketing of Hawaiʻi as a visitor destination.
- HB1132 HD1 SD1 CD1 Relating to Public Disclosure of Financial Interests Statements: Requires a legislator to file a disclosure of financial interests with the State Ethics Commission between January 1 and January 31 annually.
***Supporting information courtesy State of Hawaiʻi, House of Representatives.