Hawaiʻi Senate Forwards More Than 260 Bills to House
The Hawai‘i State Senate today passed 265 bills on third reading ahead of this week’s cross over deadline. Measures advancing to the House include bills to address homelessness, invasive species, elections by mail and equal pay.
“These bills reflect the work Senators have done to listen to and address the concerns of our constituents. We’re hopeful that the House will agree that these bills will help to improve our island state,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English.
The Senate passed a number of measures that strategically address housing and homelessness, one of the major issues of the Legislative Program. Recognizing homelessness as a “multi-faceted dilemma,” the Senate passed bills that target the problem from various angles including SB2559, SD1 which creates minimum requirements for shelters based on discussions with advocates and increases the capacity of the Department of Human Services to provide oversight.
The Senate also advanced SB 2561, SD1 which establishes a goal for state government to develop at least 22,500 affordable rental housing units for occupancy; and SB2560, SD2 which appropriates funds to provide treatment and care for homeless individuals with persistent mental health challenges
In another initiative of the Legislative Program, to sustain communities, SB2938, SD2 was passed which increases the state fuel tax as a means to pay for road repairs and matching federal funds.
“In considering SB2938, we looked at the totality of broad based tax increase proposals before us and understanding the burden each bear on our people, decided to move only this targeted measure forward,” explained Sen. Jill Tokuda, Chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee.
“There are no favorable tax increases out there, but funds are needed to match federal funds to maintain heavily used roadways statewide, address emergency situations like what we’ve seen in Kaʻaʻawa, as well as for daily operations like the Freeway Safety Patrol and various multi-use contraflow lanes,” said Tokuda.
Understanding the regressivity of the state’s tax system and the impact any increase will have on the state’s most vulnerable taxpayers, the Senate passed SB2454 SD1 that eliminates or reduces the tax burden on those in the lowest income brackets of the state, roughly accounting for 10% of the total population.
Measures that address the environment, another Legislative Program initiative, also passed Third Reading, including SB2799, SD2 that restructures the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council into a new entity to address the effort to protect Hawai‘i against environmentally harmful species and SB2773, SD1 which addresses efforts to achieve the state’s sustainability goals.
To support the Legislative Program initiative of good governance, SB2496, SD1 establishes an elections by mail system beginning with the primary election in 2018 for counties with a population of fewer than 100,000 and beginning with the 2020 primary election for all other counties. This follows the trend towards mail-in voting that has increased in Hawai‘i.
SB2313, SD2 addresses gender discrimination and prohibits an employer from paying wages at a rate less than rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work and working conditions, with certain exceptions.
The “crossover” deadline is March 10 for non-budget bills to pass third reading and move to the other chamber. Other bills that passed third reading today and are headed for crossover include the following:
SB2395, SD1 which enhances access to care via telehealth and will improve the quality of health care in the State by using available technology to enhance access to insured health care, especially among rural and underserved populations.
SB2085, SD2 addresses the needs of Hawai‘i’s kūpuna by appropriating funds for fiscal year 2016-2017 for the Kūpuna Care Program, Aging and Disability Resource Center, fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly, Healthy Aging Partnership Program, Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Services Coordinator, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia public awareness campaign.
SB2688, SD2 prohibits, beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the sale or offering for sale of certain e-liquid containers for electronic smoking devices unless the container is child-resistant and if the container is for an e-liquid product containing nicotine, is labeled with warning language. This measure also establishes e‑liquid packaging standards that will help to protect young children from inadvertent exposure to the contents of e-liquid cartridges and also inform consumers whether an e-liquid product contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance.
SB2232, SD2 establishes the Erin’s Law Task Force to review policies, programs, and curricula for educating public school students about sexual abuse prevention, and to make recommendations for a program to educate all public school students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelve on sexual abuse prevention through age appropriate curricula. Requires the Department of Education to implement the Task Force’s recommendations in the 2017-2018 school year, if possible.
SB2425, SD2 exempts extracurricular service, including planning and chaperoning educational trips, from certain provisions of the state Ethics Code. Allows teachers to receive complementary airfare and accommodations when they travel with students on educational trips to provide support and chaperone services.
SB3070, SD1 ensures greater transparency and efficiency and provide equal opportunity for those seeking grants-in-aid from the Legislature by establishing legislative policies, subject to legislative discretion and funding availability, to make appropriations for grants during the Regular Session of each odd-numbered year for the ensuing fiscal biennium. In addition, this measure requires that the Legislature not appropriate funds for more than one grant for each grant recipient during a fiscal biennium and places a low priority on requests to fund the general and administrative expenses of a grant applicant.
SB3073, SD2 establishes and appropriates funds for a school of aviation at University of Hawai‘i at Hilo to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical science and allows the appropriation to be expended once the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents establish the school of aviation.
SB2231 establishes the Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture, and Health program in the Office of Youth Services to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools. Authorizes the Office of Youth Services to establish R.E.A.C.H. program requirements and participation fees or other charges to be assessed to each participant for the cost of administering and operating the R.E.A.C.H. program.
SB2411, SD2 provides guidelines and requirements for the use of body-worn and vehicle cameras by law enforcement officers and gives officers an increased ability to gather evidence for use in court and makes investigations of alleged officer misconduct more fair and transparent.