House freshman class advances bold bills that have crossed over to the Senate
The House Majority Freshmen Class shared highlights on bills that have crossed over to the Senate, their personal experiences serving in office, and the onboarding process of settling in at the Capitol.
This year, 18 new members joined the House of Representatives, making it the largest class the legislature has seen in 28 years. Of the 18 members, 14 belong to the House Majority which is comprised of 45 Democrats.
“Our first-term lawmakers are driven, focused, and have added so much to the legislature,” said Speaker Scott K. Saiki in a news release. “The future of our state is standing here with me today. They all bring different perspectives to the House, and truly represent the residents of Hawaiʻi.”
To date, a total of 55 bills introduced by the House Majority Freshmen have passed third reading in the House and crossed over to the Senate. The following six measures were highlighted:
HB619 HD2 – RELATING TO TAXATION.
Establishes an income tax credit for qualified farms that donate eligible food products or prepared food to food banks or food pantries located in the State.
“HB 619 will benefit Hawaiʻi’s small farmers and those facing food insecurity in our state by providing tax relief to farmers and healthy nutritious foods to non-profit food banks. It is a win-win situation for everyone,” said Representative Mahina Poepoe (D-13, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe, portion of Kahului, Ha‘ikū, Pe‘ahi, Huelo, Nāhiku, Hāna, Kīpahulu).
HB899 HD2 – RELATING TO HEALTH.
Designates the month of September as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Month to promote public awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
“Fetal Alcohol Syndrome costs the state nearly $1 billion per year. The passage of HB899 to promote public awareness of FAS will save lives, prevent untold future human suffering, and open the opportunity for Hawaiʻi to receive over $100 million in federal funding for medical services,” said Representative Terez Amato (D-11 Portion of Mā‘alaea, Kīhei, Keawakapu, Wailea, Mākena, Kanahena, Keone‘ō‘io).
HB275 HD1 – RELATING TO TARO.
Appropriates funds to the Department of Agriculture to provide grants to assist taro farmers in meeting the costs of cultivating taro for consumption.
“HB275 was the culmination of legislation proposed last year. Our farmers need help, and we must stand behind our local industries. I look forward to seeing how our farmers will be supported through legislation like this and I am committed to more legislation to support our local suppliers,” said Representative Darius K. Kila (D-44, Honokai Hale, Nānākuli, Mā‘ili).
HB278 HD1 SD1 – RELATING TO HEALTH.
Appropriates funds for the Executive Office on Aging to create an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias public health campaign.
“House Bill 278 is a collaborative effort between the Hawaiʻi Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the State Executive Office on Aging, the Kūpuna Caucus of the Legislature, and community advocacy groups like AARP. Alzheimer’s disease robs people of their memories – precious moments that we all cherish and connect us to our loved ones. This bill will help families of individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s disease by providing a public awareness campaign to let them know that there are community resources, innovative treatments, and most of all hope,” said Representative Cory Chun (D-35, Portions of Pearl City and Waipahū, Crestview).
HB413 HD1 SD1 – RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT.
Appropriates matching funds for the Department of Human Resources Development to retain the services of an online employment marketplace or networking platform to assist in recruiting employees for the State.
“Retaining the services of an online employment marketplace is a low-cost way to address the high number of vacancies in state government, especially for those hard-to-fill positions. We know those who are actively seeking new employment opportunities utilize these marketplaces (i.e. LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter). Rather than waiting for prospective job seekers to come to us, we would be better served going to them,” said Representative Andrew Takuya Garrett (D-22, Mānoa).
HB581 HD2 SD1 – RELATING TO CHILD CUSTODY.
Requires certain individuals attempting to serve as child custody evaluators to complete a training course on the dynamics of domestic violence every three years. Requires individuals to submit a letter or certificate of completion to the family court.
“As a mother who shares custody of my child, I know custody disputes can be an arduous and difficult process, especially for families in extremely vulnerable and dangerous situations where violence may be involved. It is imperative that we do our best to ensure the system that is supposed to protect children and families does exactly that. High rates of domestic violence exist in families referred for child custody evaluations. Although currently our state family court may appoint a child custody evaluator from a list of qualified individuals to investigate a child custody dispute, we know that our state lacks requirements to ensure evaluators go through comprehensive training on domestic violence. I am proud to be a part of introducing HB581 and supporting its passage to protect our families and children against violence,” said Representative Rachele F. Lamosao (D-36, Waipahū).
To review the complete list of the 55 House Majority Freshmen bills that have crossed over the Senate, click here.