State Senate Unveils 2017 Legislative Program

January 12, 2017, 7:42 AM HST · Updated January 12, 7:45 AM
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Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English. Photo credit: Michi Moore.

The state Senate unveiled its 2017 Legislative program for the 29th biennium, focusing on communities, environment, sustainability and public safety.

Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English of Maui said the Senate will continue the work that had begun in the previous session and work to address problems so that the next generation will be better situated.

In order to assure affordability, the senate will looking into better support of low-income wage earners in Hawaiʻi.

In addition to supporting existing conservation and enforcement efforts, the senate will encourage the use of innovative technologies to combat invasive species, address biosecurity risks, conserve the State’s water resources, address changing sea levels, and protect the State’s fragile marine ecosystem.

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The 2017 Legislative Program for the Hawai‘i State Senate is as follows:

Ola Lehulehu – People and Communities
• Education – We will collaborate with educational leaders and interested stakeholders to identify and focus on priority educational needs and opportunities. We will strive to produce workforce-ready graduates to provide opportunities to cultivate and diversify the workforce and economy of Hawai‘i.

• Affordability – We acknowledge Hawai‘i’s extremely high cost of living and the financial stress this places on many individuals and families. We will therefore explore options to increase affordability for residents, including avenues to better support low-income wage earners in Hawai‘i.

• Social Services – We will support the State’s core functions, including strengthening our social safety net to ensure our keiki, kūpuna, families, and individuals are protected. We will also continue to support the creative coordination of social service and educational strategies that address the multi-faceted nature of homelessness.

• Health Care – We will support collaborative efforts to ensure that funding for Native Hawaiian health care continues. We will further support Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by focusing on essential social and cultural determinants that improve health outcomes amongst our indigenous population. We will also encourage options to improve health care for our keiki and our residents in rural areas and will support collaborative efforts to provide better dental care for keiki and adults throughout our communities.

• Food Security – We will further explore opportunities and policies that support our local farmers, encourage good agricultural practices, and increase our local food production. Efforts that support food self-sufficiency will have positive effects on our local job market and economy.

Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu – Preparedness
• Community Development – We will work diligently to understand and promote smart community development, in particular transit-oriented development. We recognize transit-oriented development as a unique opportunity to address many socio-economic challenges. Because land along public transportation corridors presents an opportunity for the State to maximize land development, we support collaboration with interested stakeholders, including private businesses and non-profit organizations. We are also committed to supporting affordable housing and necessary infrastructure to strengthen our community.

• Government Services – We will focus on improving the efficiency and modernization of government services, including election participation. We will continue to encourage the enhancement of the State’s information technology systems and incentivize the use of technology. We will also support efforts to advance innovation-oriented projects that improve living standards in Hawai‘i, while streamlining resources to most efficiently and effectively promote innovation and economic growth.

• Financial Analysis – The Hawai‘i State Senate is committed to analyzing tax credit cost information provided by state agencies; assessing the viability of existing tax credits, exemptions, and exclusions; and determining whether each tax credit, exemption, or exclusion continues to be useful and beneficial to the State.

Aloha Honua – Climate Change and Energy
• Environment – We will protect and preserve Hawai‘i’s natural resources by exploring ways to improve agricultural practices and mitigate climate change impacts. We are committed to supporting the preservation of Hawai‘i’s unique geographical features, including coastlines and watersheds. In addition to supporting existing conservation and enforcement efforts, we will encourage the use of innovative technologies to combat invasive species, address biosecurity risks, conserve the State’s water resources, address changing sea levels, and protect the State’s fragile marine ecosystem.

• Sustainability – We will continue our commitment to renewable energy alternatives that are practical and economical for the State and take into account Hawai‘i’s natural environment and terrain. With recent progress and clean energy goals in mind, we will further encourage the availability of renewable energy and advance projects to improve energy efficiencies.

Pono Kaulike – Transforming Justice
• Rehabilitation – We will explore alternatives to incarceration and options to reduce the recidivism rate amongst our incarcerated population, through means such as strengthening community ties. We will support efforts that enable incarcerated individuals to develop useable skills that will help in their transition back into their communities.

• Public Safety – In an effort to promote continued public safety, we will encourage effectiveness, transparency, and interagency collaboration, and insist on higher standards of conduct and appropriate training.

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