House Adjourns 2020 Legislative Session Passing Bills on Economic Stability, Social Safety Net

July 11, 2020, 1:51 PM HST · Updated July 11, 1:51 PM
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PC: Hawai’i Senate Majority

In a year plagued by COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers say they are making an effort to address the needs of struggling families, public health concerns, restoring Hawaiʻi’s economy. 

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – The House of Representatives adjourned the 2020 legislative session sine die today in what was a very intense session, having to maneuver through obstacles related to the coronavirus pandemic. Since the onset of COVID-19, members were tasked with addressing the immediate needs of residents struggling with economic and public health concerns while working towards goals set back in January to provide support for working families.  

“At the start of session, we crafted a holistic package of bills in collaboration with the Senate, the Governor, community stakeholders and business leaders to address the big issues of income inequality — from affordable housing to early child care,” said House Speaker Scott K. Saiki. “While our state has gone through tremendous changes since January, we’ve had a continued focus on relieving the economic burdens for working families, particularly through accessibility to early learning and child care.”

Two of the original bills from the Legislature’s majority package developed at the beginning of the session now move to the Governor for review. HB 2543 HD1 SD2 will provide all of Hawaiʻi’s 3 to 4year old children with access to early learning by the year 2030, and appropriate funds to support pre-kindergarten Hawaiian language immersion programs. SB 3103 SD2 HD2 establishes a school facilities agency in the Department of Education to coordinate all public school development, planning, and construction allowing the department to focus on teaching our children.

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In March, the session was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Legislature subsequently reconvened in June and passed SB 126 SD1 HD1 CD1, a comprehensive plan to spend $635 million in federal CARES Act funds to provide immediate relief for working families, address public health and pandemic needs, and rebuild and move the economy forward.

The bill also appropriates $149 million within the state budget for a range of social safety net programs and services including hospital operations, mental health and substance abuse programs, homeless support services, and rent assistance.

“We’ve seen this pandemic affect our most vulnerable communities. I’m proud, not only of the CARES Act funding we put towards mental health and homeless support services but the bills we passed to reform the way our mental health and criminal justice systems coexist and support one another,” said House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti. “HB 1620 HD2 SD2 and HB 1661 HD3 SD2 work hand in hand to provide individuals with non-violent, minor charges, the opportunity to receive help and treatment, rather than get stuck in the cycle of jail time, and additionally streamline and standardize the emergent response to behavioral health crises.” 

Other Key Bills

SB 2638 SD2 HD3Relating to Domestic Violence

Part I: Establishes a petty misdemeanor offense of abuse of a family or household members. Clarifies the penalties for violations. Allows a deferred acceptance of a guilty plea for misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor abuse of family or household members offenses. Establishes a probationary period for abuse of a family or household members. Part II: Makes consistent the types of documents accepted as proof of domestic or sexual violence victim status. Part III: Requires the judiciary to submit annual reports on the number and outcome of abuse cases. 

HB 361 HD1 SD2 Relating to Emoluments 

Prohibits the governor and each county mayor, while holding those offices, to maintain any other employment, maintain a controlling interest in a business, or receive any emolument, beginning on the sixty-first calendar day after their election or appointment to office.

HB 285 HD1 SD2 CD1 Relating to Public Safety

Requires county police departments to disclose to the Legislature the identity of an officer upon an officer’s suspension or discharge. Amends the Uniform Information Practices Act to allow for public access to information about suspended officers. Authorizes the law enforcement standards board to revoke certifications and requires the board to review and recommend statewide policies and procedures relating to law enforcement, including the use of force. 

SB 2523 SD1 HD2 Relating to Public Safety

Restores funding for the YWCA Fernhurst Women’s Program, which is a community-based work furlough program for women.

HB 1819 HD2 SD3 Relating to Hemp

Legalizes the growth of hemp in the State through the United States Department of Agriculture hemp production program. Allows the processing and sale of hemp products in the State through State licensing. Expedites the substitution of the USDA hemp production program for the existing industrial hemp pilot program as required by federal law.

HB 2744 HD1 SD2 Relating to Gun Violence Prevention

Establishes the gun violence and violent crimes commission. Requires reports to the Legislature. Makes it a class C felony to purchase, manufacture, or otherwise obtain firearm parts for the purpose of assembling a firearm having no serial number.

SB2629 SD2 HD1 Relating to the Environment

Prohibits, after June 30, 2020, the approval of a new or renewed power purchase agreement for electricity generated from coal, as well as the modification of a coal power purchase agreement that proposes to extend the term or increase the amount of generation that is allowed to be produced under the existing agreement. The bill also prohibits, after Dec. 31, 2022, the issuance or renewal or covered source air permits for coal-burning electricity generation facilities.

HB 2148 HD1 SD1 Relating to Family Leave

Extends Hawaiʻi family leave to include care for employees’ grandchildren.

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