By Malia Zimmerman - HONOLULU — Hawaii taxpayers have a heavy burden to bear when it comes to covering "other post-employment retirement benefits" for their public employees.
In a newly released analysis, the Washington, D.C.-based Truth in Accounting reports Hawaii’s OPEB — those "other post-employment retirement benefits" — is more than $9,800 per capita. That's more than any other state. The 50-state average is less than $2,000 per capita.
"Such levels of unfunded OPEB liability will result in higher taxes, cuts in other services, or broken promises," said Sheila Weinberg, founder of the Institute for Truth in Accounting.
The other post-employment retirement benefits owed to the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the United Public Workers union, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association, stood at $13.6 billion in 2011.
Much of the debt is attributed to health care for employees, retirees and their families, managed through the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.
“While Hawaii’s has not fully fund its pensions, that is only half of the story — actually less than half. As these unfunded liabilities grow, Hawaii risks encountering a double whammy of pension and OPEB liabilities,” Weinberg said.
"The OPEB numbers are overlooked because people too often look only at a state's unfunded pension liability," she added.
Kalbert Young, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, said the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund unfunded liability exceeds $18 billion.
Hawaii is responsible for covering $15 billion of the debt to the EUTF, while the four counties and the University of Hawaii must cover the remaining $3 billion owed, Young said.
Hawaii lawmakers deposited $217 million into the state’s Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund during the 2013 session. The money is to be used over the next two years to pay health care bills for state employees, their families and retirees and their spouses. The fund balance is $300 million.
“The amount the state needs to contribute each year is over $500 million based on the last actuarial study. And, the state would have to do so for the next 30 years,” Young said.
The legislation, House Bill 546 CD1, also establishes a trust fund task force; requires the annual public employer contribution to be determined by an actuary, not the Legislature, beginning in FY 2018-2019; and takes revenue from state General Excise Taxes and hotel room taxes.
While a positive step in the right direction, Weinberg said there is a long way to go to get Hawaii’s liabilities funded and back on track.
"Hawaii's unfunded retirement health care promises are twice as much as its unfunded pension promises," Weinberg said.
"In our analysis, Hawaii is the third worst state in the Union overall for unfunded liabilities, due in large part to these unfunded OPEB liabilities," Weinberg added.
Though the state is required by law to have a balanced budget, Weinberg said Hawaii is far from being truly balanced because of its outstanding debt.
The Legislature recently approved $24 billion for the state's biennium operating and capital budgets for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
"As in prior years, the Legislature passed a ‘balanced’ budget, but it does not account for the fiscal reality of the unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities," Weinberg said.
Truth in Accounting has launched a State Data Lab for all 50 states, featuring a database of census and CAFR numbers from omprehensive annual financial reports as well as descriptions of the states’ current fiscal position.
The organization includes in this database a comparison chart of pension and OPEB unfunded liabilities.
By Jamie Dettmer - The United States and Britain are withdrawing some of the staff from their embassies in Tripoli, Libya because of a standoff between the government and heavily armed militias blockading parts of the capital, embassy officials said Friday. The move to evacuate non-essential diplomatic personnel comes after a bombing at the French Embassy last month that injured two security gendarmes. In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the United States, Britain and France called on Libyans to “refrain from armed protest and violence during this difficult time in the democratic transition.”
The statement came as heavily armed militias refused to ease their blockade of key government ministries, even after forcing the government to give in on their main demand – getting the General National Congress to ban from public office associates and employees of the late Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi. The militias have maintained their siege of government ministries for more than a week.
That exclusion law was passed last Sunday and will go into effect next month. But the hardcore militias have added additional demands, including the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. They say they won’t release their chokehold on the government until they are sure the cleansing of the government of Gadhafi-era officials goes ahead.
Small number of diplomats involved
The evacuation of the non-essential U.S. and British diplomatic staff involves small numbers of personnel. The embassies had not been fully staffed since last September when militants attacked U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
In Washington, the State Department issued a travel warning for Libya on Friday, advising that it had ordered a number of diplomatic personnel to leave Tripoli.
The evacuation is being seen as an indication of serious anxiety in Washington and London about the security situation in Libya.
“The non-essential staff withdrawal, which is temporary, is to do with the continuing political volatility,” a British diplomat told VOA. “The numbers are small and mainly involve staff who have not been able to do very much because of the political flux involving the ministries. They have not been able to gain access to the ministries because of the militia blockades of the buildings.”
The British Foreign Office announced in London that the evacuation is taking place because of the heightened political tensions in Libya.
“In light of this political volatility, there is a potential for violence and clashes between rival armed groups,” the Foreign Office said on its website. It is urging all British citizens to avoid all but essential travel to Tripoli and other key cities, and not to travel at all to Benghazi and the rest of the country.
Additional militia demands
The additional militia demands now include not only Zeidan's resignation, but also the freezing of the state budget for this year and the right of the militias to form a committee to take over the Foreign Ministry.Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan tried to rally support after militiamen surrounded the Foreign Ministry in Tripoli.
Prime Minister Zeidan has promised not to use violence in the current standoff, although it isn’t clear what official security forces he could call on in the event he decided to use force.
The Defense Ministry has few soldiers under its direct command and relies operationally on the militias. The Interior Ministry has few forces of its own able to confront well-armed militiamen.
In recent days, members of the Libyan Shield Force, a coalition of militias that officially come under the defense ministry, have been spotted supporting the blockades. And the blockading militiamen, who mainly come from the town of Misrata but also include a sprinkling of mainly Islamist militiamen from other major towns, have been demanding that the chief of staff of the armed forces, Major-General Yousef Mangoush, be replaced.
Militia leaders have said they are trying to correct the “course of the revolution,” a phrase they often use when asked about their overall strategy.
Zeidan has urged Libyans to rally behind the government, but pro-government protests have attracted small numbers of demonstrators -- never going above about 200 -- not enough to help swing the struggle in the government’s favor.
Libya’s population appears divided. The Zeidan government has not been popular because of the slow pace of improvement in the everyday lives of Libyans. But there is growing impatience with the tactics of the militias as well.
“They are acting as though they own the country,” shop owner Ahmed Tawashi says of the militias. “We didn’t elect these people.”
Western diplomats warned earlier this week that the way the government was forced to pass a law excluding former Gadhafi associates amounted to a “legal coup” that would help strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood and smaller Islamist parties.
Fault lines are beginning to appear within the militias. Earlier this week, some militias not involved in the blockades came out in support of the government. The pro-government militiamen warned that if the current crisis isn’t resolved soon, they would form a national force to deal with the anti-government militias and dislodge them from Tripoli.
"If you do not respond to our demands, we will form a common national force from all the cities of Libya to handle this situation," the group said Wednesday. Its members included federalists from the eastern part of the country and some militia leaders from Benghazi.
“The most powerful and influential militias appear to be against the government,” said an American security official.
The sieges have been organized by the Higher Council of the Revolutionaries that has among its leaders members of the Muslim Brotherhood and smaller Islamist parties that failed to do well in last July elections.
The Legislature this week approved a record-setting $24 billion biennium budget that includes funding for operations and capital improvement projects for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
The $24 billion is a sizable increase over previous budgets, but lawmakers in both chambers supported the plan.
Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, the only Republican in the 25-member Senate, stood alone when voicing concerns about growing spending, and the increased taxes and fees that were added to support it.
Slom, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said big spending increases are overburdening Hawaii’s taxpayers and small business owners.
Slom, a 17-year veteran of the Legislature, gave his colleagues, the media and the public a detailed alternative budget prepared by the Minority Budget Director Paul Harleman that slashed several billion dollars from the budget, eliminated 1,000 vacant public employee positions and eliminated “ineffective” state programs. The majority party gave no consideration to this proposal.
About half the state’s budget will go toward human services for items including food stamps, housing subsidies and medical care for Hawaii’s homeless and low-income populations. One lawmaker noted the state has the third highest number of homeless people in the nation and the highest rate of food stamp distribution.
Another one quarter of the budget is allocated to public schools for operation and maintenance.
During his 2013 State of the State address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, asked lawmakers to set aside $20 million for a new state-sponsored early education program for 4 year olds that would have taxpayers paying for children to attend preschool. The Legislature abolished the state’s pre-kindergarten program two years ago because of budget cutbacks. The governor said he wanted to to expand his new program to include state subsidies for younger children at an annual cost of around $100 million.
The proposal, which was backed by many of Hawaii’s preschool education leaders because they would directly benefit from the subsidies, drew criticism from those who maintain parents should continue to pay for their own private preschool costs. Public unions also opposed the plan because they said it is the first step toward a education voucher system. The legislation also depends upon voters approving a state constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot, which would change Hawaii’s constitution to allow for the expenditure of public money for private institutions.
The governor personally lobbied lawmakers for their support, held his own rally at the Capitol and on Tuesday attended the final debate on the bill. Lawmakers agreed to fund a pilot program for $6 million, leading the governor to blow them kisses and a wave of thanks from the gallery.
Sen. Roz Baker, a Democrat from Maui who is aligned with union leaders, voted against the early education bill, saying she she also believes it creates a voucher system.
Four of 25 senators opposed the plan, including three Democrats who didn’t voice their objections, and Slom, who said the public shouldn’t be burdened with the additional costs of providing “babysitting.”
Some $1.2 billion was set aside for improvements to Hawaii’s deteriorating highways, bridges, harbors and airports as well as repairs and maintenance on virtually every public school campus.
House Bill 200 does not include allocations for several other cost items. For example, another half a billions dollars was set aside for salary and benefit increases for public employees in three main union — the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Worker Union. Budgets for the state Judiciary and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have separate appropriation bills.
The state will pay $216 million into the Employees Union Trust Fund, pushing back a tiny percent of the $25 billion in unfunded liabilities that Hawaii taxpayers owe union workers for retirement and health benefits.
However, Truth In Accounting’s Sheila Weinberg said, much more still needs to be done to address Hawaii’s crippling debt. Hawaii is ranked by Truth in Accounting as the third worst “sink hole” state in the nation.
To help fund the budget, the Legislature made one major temporary tax increase permanent and raised several other fees on businesses.
The Transient Accommodation Tax paid on hotel rooms was set to roll back to 7.25 percent. But lawmakers, who passed a temporary increase two years ago bringing the rate up 9.25 percent, wanted to keep that revenue stream and had no intention of reducing it. In the end, they officially made the temporary increase permanent. A proposal earlier in the session to increase the tax to 11.25 percent failed.
While the controversial minimum wage increase bills died in the final days of session, there are still several bills that affect regulation, licensing and increased fees for businesses.
Lawmakers also came up with other creative ways to bring in revenue.
Senate Bill 237 will allow the state to sell land under public schools so it can be developed for commercial purposes. The bill, which has angered parents at a number of public schools across the state, would still have to be approved by the electorate in 2014.
REPORT FROM THE PACIFIC ALLIANCE TO STOP SLAVERY - During the 2013 legislative session, the State Legislature passed four bills to combat human trafficking in Hawaii. If signed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, these measures will help stem the consumer demand for prostitution that drives the sex-trafficking industry, while expanding services for victims of coerced prostitution and labor trafficking.
The most important legislative victory for anti-trafficking advocates, this year, was passage of Senate Bills 192 and 194, which together form a comprehensive “end demand” legal package. SB 192 creates the new offense of solicitation of a minor for prostitution, graded as a class C felony that carries a minimum $2,000 fine. The bill, which applies to the protection of minors under the age of eighteen, also extends the statute of limitations for civil remedies related to coerced prostitution to six years, expands asset forfeiture laws to cover an increased range of solicitation offenses, and adds solicitation of a minor to the state's list of crimes subject to the sex offender registry. Similarly, SB 192 (signed into law on April 26 as Act 53) makes all solicitation of prostitution crimes ineligible for deferred acceptance of a guilty or no contest plea.
“Though it may sound callous to the casual ear, sex-trafficking is a business, albeit an illicit one, that operates on the principles of free enterprise,” said IMUAlliance legislative director Kris Coffield. “One of the most effective means of stifling exploitation, then, is to target the johns who subsidize the commercial sex trade by increasing the penalties associated with paying for sex, thereby hiking the opportunity cost of soliciting prostitution.”
“Hawaii comes several steps closer to effectively addressing the exploitation of children and the ending of the demand for prostitution and sex-trafficking.” said Kathryn Xian, Executive Director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery. “We are intensely committed to creating the important policy changes that will ensure the safety of Hawaii’s keiki and abolish the trend of selling women and children for money. These crimes have no place in these islands and are diametrically opposed not only to the Hawaiian culture but to healthy living for all.”
Legislators also passed House Bills 1068 and 1187, which respectively mandate the display of a human trafficking hotline poster in establishments at high-risk for sex-trafficking and amend the state's “child abuse and neglect” and “harm” definitions to include child victims of human trafficking, ensuring that such children receive proper legal attention and adequate support services.
“These measures are similar in their emphasis on extending victim services and raising awareness,” said Coffield. “One bill gives all victims, regardless of age, a number to call if they're being exploited, while the other mandates reporting of suspected child trafficking by qualified professionals and makes explicit the protections that are already implicitly afforded by the state's human services and family court codes.”
“The latest research from the state’s Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division shows that a majority of what PASS defines as ‘high risk victims’ for human trafficking are being criminalized and incarcerated in the juvenile justice system as repeat runaways or other status offenders,” said Xian. “HB 1187 will start us in the right direction that we need to be to decriminalize children for justifiably running away from abusive or neglectful homes and help the state recognize these children as in need of services, not incarceration.”
These measures will undoubtedly help Hawaii shed its reputation for being a human trafficking haven, as evidenced by Shared Hope International giving the state an 'F' grade in 2012 for lacking protections for victims of commercial sexual exploitation. At the same time, advocates recognize that there is more work to be done in future years, including the passage of laws targeting online advertising for sex-trafficking, establishing a presumption of innocence for minors arrested for prostitution, and implementation of a unified protocol for victim service providers.
“Every day, approximately 300 ads for prostitution related to Hawaii are posted online, amount to about 100,000 ads per year,” said Coffield. “Traffickers use the secrecy of the Internet to hide their crimes, which makes criminalizing online prostitution advertisements a top priority.”
“Prostitution and sex-trafficking are not victimless crimes,” said Xian. “ they are crimes created by a gendered paradigm that lulls the privileged to view its victims as complicit counterparts to sexist hegemony. But, that will begin to change thanks to these new laws, affording the public new lenses by which to view these crimes for what they truly are: human rights violations against women and children.”
The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS), is a Hawaii-based not-for-profit 501(c)3 whose mission is to stop Human-Trafficking in Hawaii and the Pacific. PASS provides services and advocacy for survivors of Human-Trafficking, education and training on the identification of victims of Human-Trafficking, and public awareness and prevention education for the greater community.
BY SEN. SUZANNE CHUN OAKLAND - I would like to speak in strong support of HB200, CD1. First of all, I would like to thank the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance Committees, the WAM and FIN committee members and hardworking staff, and my legislative colleagues for being so supportive of funding programs that will make a significant difference in the lives of infants, children, youth, kupuna and families.
HB200, CD1, contains funding that will support people in meeting basic human needs, including food, shelter and health care.
The Legislature's commitment to our kupuna and persons with disabilities is significant this year. In this State budget bill, along with provisions in SB 106, CD1, there is:
1. full funding for the Aging and Disability Resource Centers statewide, so that people can have one-stop resource centers to connect kupuna and persons with disabilities to connect with long term care services and supports that will improve their quality of life;
2. a total of $8 million allocated for Kupuna Care, which will help thousands of seniors with home delivered meals, transportation services, respite services, home modification, and health and wellness services;
3. funding for senior centers, the Healthy Aging Partnership program that has contributed to reducing injury and falls among our kupuna, and funding to do an assessment and actuarial analysis for a long term care insurance program for working people in Hawaii.
Also, noteworthy, this year, is funding that:
1. addresses the shortfall in early intervention services for children with special health needs;
2. supports home and community-based waiver services for developmentally disabled children and adults; and
3. funds health care payments for people eligible for QUEST and Expanded QUEST, impacting over 270,000 people in Hawaii, as well as implements the Affordable Health Care Act requirement that allows young people to be covered by their parents up to age 26 years of age who are still living with their parents as dependents.
HB200, CD1, also:
4. restores funds to the acute care hospitals at a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate;
5. increases the reimbursement rate for primary care physicians reflecting federal funds Hawaii is eligible for as part of the Affordable Care Act;
4. funds managed health care for immigrants, migrants and refugees; and
4. supports the technology and programming work necessary to complete the new, more efficient, and accountable Medicaid eligibility system by October 1st of this year to enroll Hawaii's eligible residents needing health care insurance and meet the Affordable Health Care Act start date of January 1, 2014.
There is also resources appropriated in HB200, CD1, to support:
5. neighborhood centers and wrap around services statewide for families to intervene and prevent child abuse and neglect and promote healthy family relationships;
6. voluntary foster care that will provide stable housing for youth, while attending higher education or working, up to age 21;
8. 2 parole officer positions for neighbor islands to allow youth to stay on their islands and reduce the number of neighbor island youth having to go to Oahu to the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility;
9. continue supporting 28 middle schools with resources for positve after-school programs statewide using TANF funds;
10. resources to domestic violence and sexual assault services, legal services for our very poor, funding for deaf and blind support services, and funds to support the work of the Commission on the Status of Women and the State's Fatherhood Commission.
Finally, I wanted to highlight, the Legislature's commitment to address homelessness and affordable housing options for people in Hawaii. Through HB 200, CD1, in combination with SB515, CD1, the Legislature:
10. fully funds $1.5 million for the Housing First Program statewide to assist chronically homeless people obtain and maintain permanent housing;
11. begins much needed repair and maintenance of existing homeless shelters; and
12. supports a centralized service system of health care for seriously mentally ill persons.
These initiatives, along with other significant allocations for shallow rent subsidies, veteran services, public housing renovatios, substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, rapid rehousing services, shelter plus care services, increased rental housing trust fund and dwelling unit revolving funds for affordable housing infrastructure, truly demonstrates a very important commitment of the Legislature and Hawaii's residents to helping individuals, couples and families who are homeless become sheltered and secire permanent housing as well as begin to address the shortage of 50,000 new housing units needed in Hawaii that is anticipated in next four years.
Mahalo, colleagues and the people of Hawaii, for your support of HB 200, CD1.
Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, the chair of the Senate Human Services committee, made these remarks on the Senate floor on April 30, 2013.
The Hawaii State Legislature today voted unanimously in both the House and Senate to approve the state budget for the upcoming FY2013-2015 biennium.
HB200 CD1 appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the biennium fiscal years FY2013-2014 and FY2014-2015.
For FY2013-2014, the bill offers $6 billion in general funds and $11.8 billion in all other means of financing. For FY2014-2015, it appropriates $6.1 billion in general funds and $12 billion in all additional financing means. It also provides over $3 billion in funding for capital improvement projects (CIP) and $30 million Grants-In-Aid for non-profit organizations.
House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) acknowledged that the fiscal outlook is looking positive but reiterated the importance of financial prudency, “our economy is recovering and while we have the money, it is now time to take a measured approach towards our State’s financial plan. This means passing a budget that takes care of our current needs, while also taking care of our financial obligations and reinvests in our future," said Luke. “In this budget, we kept our promise to recapitalize the Hurricane Relief Fund and Rainy Day Funds and we have taken significant steps towards reducing our unfunded liabilities.”
The financial plan includes an addition of $160 million into the Hurricane Relief Fund and $50 million into the Rainy Day Fund. Most importantly, it includes appropriations of $217 million in the next biennium to begin payments towards the State’s unfunded liability and will continue to allocate funds every year ending in an allocation of $500 million in FY2019.
"We used the projected surplus to strengthen economic drivers to ensure increased revenue returns. To help the construction industry, the budget bill authorizes more than $1.3 billion in general obligation bond authorization for capital improvement projects statewide. Additionally, to support our number one industry our financial plan includes an $11 million increase to the Hawaii Tourism Authority to strengthen the marketing of Hawaii as a visitor destination. We also appropriated $6 million to assist our growing high technology industry in investment start ups and tax credits for research and development," said Luke.
Other funding highlights include:
Consumer Protection and Commerce (CPC)
Economic Development and Business (EDB )
Energy and Environmental Protection (EEP)
Higher Education (HED)
Human Services (HUS)
Public Safety (PSD) & Judiciary (JUD)
Also approved today were the budgets for the Judiciary Branch and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
HB197 appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Judicial Branch for the next biennium. The bill offers in general funding $145 million for FY2013-FY2014 and $144 million for FY2014-FY2015.
HB222 appropriates $3.1 million in FY2014 and $2.7 million in FY2015 in operating funds for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
REPORT FROM THE HOUSE MAJORITY - The House approved bills that address the needs of a wide spectrum of the State's population. The approach this session was to focus on the State's long term needs such as reducing long term fiscal liabilities, repaying our reserve funds, promoting economic development, education, sustainability and improving the quality of life for residents.
"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. Residents who want to lower their electric bills by installing solar panels, but could not afford to do so, will be able to apply for low cost loans. We will be able to support food sustainability and encourage our young people to enter the farming profession with expanded incentives," said House Speaker Joseph M. 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. We are setting up a schedule to re-establish appropriate levels to the EUTF health fund to ensure the State's financial standing remains strong."
SB1087 SD2 HD3 CD1 RELATING TO GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE:Establishes a regulatory financing structure to provide low-cost loans for green infrastructure equipment.
SB19 SD1 HD2 CD1 RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY: This bill would allow renters to enjoy cost savings on their electrical bill through the installation of solar panels without having to incur the cost of installing the system themselves. Landlords would enjoy an investment opportunity to add value to their property.
SB1084 SD1 HD1 CD1 PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE X, SECTION 1, OF THE HAWAII 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 twenty-first century. Any redevelopment shallcomply with county plans, ordinances, and zoning and development codes and mandates community input.
SB563 SD3 HD2 CD1 RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII:Amends the form and function of the Candidate Advisory Council for the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii. 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 Hawaii 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.
SB593 SD2 HD1 CD1 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE: Expands livestock feed subsidies to include milking goats, goats raised for meat, sheep, lambs, fish, and crustaceans. This financial support enables the livestock industry to stabilize its operations, thereby contributing to food security and increasing the competitiveness of the local livestock industry with mainland suppliers.
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 Hawaii'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 eighteen 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.
SB102 SD2 HD1 CD1 RELATING TO THE ELDERLY: Requires financial institutions to report instances of suspected financial abuse of the elderly directly to the appropriate county police department and the Department of Human Services.
SB548 SD1 HD2 CD1 RELATING TO TELEMEDICINE: Exempts from licensing requirements in the State any commissioned medical officer or psychologist employed by the U.S. 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 twenty-one.
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 ten 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 HAWAII EMPLOYERS-UNION HEALTH BENEFITS TRUST FUND: Establishes the Hawaii employer-union health benefits trust fund (EUTF) 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 per cent. Includes an $11 million increase to the Hawaii Tourism Authority to strengthen marketing of Hawaii 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.
Rep. Charles Boustany, Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Phil Gingrey - As we work to rein in wasteful spending and improve retirement security, our nation cannot afford to overlook Medicaid’s long-term care financing crisis.
We’re completely unprepared for the coming “age wave.” More than 15 million Americans will be 85 years or older in 2040. While seven in 10 seniors will need some type of long-term care (LTC) during their lives, only one in 10 has private LTC insurance coverage. Almost 14 million seniors could suffer from Alzheimer’s in 2040, and the annual rate for a private nursing home room continues climbing, reaching $81,030 in 2012.
Research shows many Americans mistakenly believe they have LTC coverage through Medicare when they do not. The misinformation puts their retirement plans at risk. Without change, millions of middle-class baby boomers will turn to a welfare program, Medicaid, to finance these needs.
The authors of Obamacare pretended to solve Medicaid’s LTC financing problems by creating the Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS) program, a national entitlement, promising a daily cash benefit to disabled Americans. The program failed because liberals promised the impossible: a self-funded, fiscally sound program that prohibits underwriting without forcing healthy Americans to participate. As it fell apart, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) criticized CLASS because “it’s voluntary.”
Less supportive Democrat Senators called it a “Ponzi scheme.” And the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned it would “inevitably add to future deficits (on a cash basis) by more than it reduces deficits in the near term, even though the premiums would be set to ensure solvency of the program.”
Aggressive congressional oversight forced Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to concede the program was unsustainable and admit she lacked legal authority to rewrite the program. HHS attorneys warned CLASS could leave some enrollees “worse off” or unable to “recoup their paid premiums” once it failed due to legal challenges.
The Secretary stopped implementation, but she defied commonsense by urging Congress to keep the budget-busting program on the books. When Senate Democrats finally agreed to repeal CLASS, they replaced it with a flawed commission and tasked its Democrat-appointed majority with producing a plan in September. Congress should reject any recommendations for CLASS 2.0. We can’t afford a new mandatory, publicly funded LTC entitlement.
Instead, lawmakers should listen to the Government Accountability Office and better inform middle-class baby boomers of their probable need for LTC and the fact Medicare won’t cover it. This gives patients and caregivers time to plan ahead. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration refuses to improve its taxpayer-funded efforts to increase Americans’ awareness of this problem and has rejected calls to work with state governors to expand private LTC coverage. Liberal advocacy groups have long opposed this approach, preferring to force Americans to pay into a new federal program. Like CLASS, it would collapse under empty promises years before a shrinking group of American workers struggles to fund Medicare and service interest on the debt in 2040.
CLASS and the commission are distractions. We won’t solve our LTC problem without reforming Medicaid, our nation’s default LTC program. Medicaid LTC spending has grown at an annual rate of 6.5 percent since 1995. According to the CBO, federal spending in this area will top $1.1 trillion annually in 2021.
States also struggle as increased Medicaid spending crowds out other budget priorities, and they blame federal rules, allowing individuals with substantial assets to enroll in this welfare program. In a letter to Congress, the state of Virginia writes “the federal government should give states greater flexibility to consider assets when determining eligibility for LTC coverage through the Medicaid program.” The state of Wisconsin agrees this will “help ensure the long-term sustainability of such programs for their residents in most need of government assistance.” Federal rules force states to disregard more than a half million dollars in home equity and the entire amount of other valuable assets during enrollment.
Making matters worse, the 2010 law prohibits states from tightening loopholes that allow welfare abuse. Virginia provides an example of a Medicaid applicant who purchased a $900,000 annuity, naming his wife the beneficiary of $89,000 per month. Obamacare forces Virginia to ignore this income when deciding eligibility.
Why should Medicaid allow middle-income and upper-income Americans to have their LTC financed by taxpayers so they can pass inheritances along to their children? Since 2000, seniors’ home equity grew by 50 percent, reaching $3.2 trillion in 2013. Easy access to welfare is unsustainable, and it creates no incentive to protect assets with LTC insurance or to use a home-equity conversion for LTC needs. Tighter restrictions won’t force seniors out of their homes, and federal law helps them appropriately protect these assets from Medicaid estate recovery through a program Congress expanded in 2005.
To protect Medicaid for poor Americans, we recently introduced the Medicaid Program Integrity Act. The bill would give states the option to reduce the Medicaid home equity exemption as low as $50,000. It would also eliminate Obamacare’s Maintenance of Effort rules, preventing states from closing loopholes allowing Medicaid abuse.
Congress should reject CLASS 2.0, encourage personal responsibility, and protect Medicaid for those it was intended to protect. Ultimately, this will give middle-class Americans greater choice, independence, and control over the long-term care services they need in a setting of their choice.
REPORT FROM THE SENATE MAJORITY -- A measure that would serve as a building block to creating a state-funded early childhood education program in the future advanced in conference committee today.
Senate and House conference committee members voted to move forward Senate Bill 1093, which establishes a school readiness program as a major component of the early learning system.
Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Committee on Education and strong supporter of early childhood education, said the school readiness program is foundational as the state moves towards a funded preschool system.
“This is the first real investment Hawaii has made to join the vast majority of states that direct resources towards school readiness and early learning," said Tokuda. “We have must to be proud of, and should recognize the opportunity if provides us to build a firm foundation of readiness as our youngest keiki enter school.”
“The program creates a more robust, rigorous version of Preschool Open Doors, focused on efficiently and effectively utilizing the resources provided, and will call upon providers to do school readiness assessment filled in with the aim of making sure those who go through the program are ready for kindergarten,” she explained. “This is one of the greatest equalizers we can give our children, ensuring every chance that they can have to be successful in both school and life.”
The program will be administered by Department of Human Services. The bill appropriated $1.160M for administration costs for two years and $6M in FY15 for subsidies based on a sliding fee scale that the Department of Human Services will develop.
“This investment is significant to building up to the system,” she added.
The bill now goes before the full House and Senate for a final vote.
BY DR. MAX COOPER - The proposed world class Puuanahulu Shooting Range in Kailua-Kona is still in the proposed state budget.
The House and Senate start conference committees this week to decide the final budget.
There is wide support for the range. It's timely to remind the Legislators on the money committees that such a facility is important to a lot of shooters, hunters, and 2nd Amendment supporters across the state.
The $3.25 million proposal involves general-purpose rifle, pistol, 3-D bow hunting and archery ranges and a sporting clays course initially, and then a 1,000-yard rifle, 100-yard airgun, action pistol, pistol, rifle, trap and skeet ranges, an education center, rest rooms, picnic areas and parking.
The site, a square mile of land within the Pu'uanahulu Game Management area, is immune from encroachment.
Please contact these legislators to voice support.
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Dr. Max Cooper is the Hawaii Rifle Association Legislative Liaison
REPORT FROM THE HOUSE MAJORITY - The conference meeting to negotiate differences in the state budget between the House and Senate was held a week earlier than normal to allow more discussion time for conference members and avoid the last minute rush to act on other fiscal bills.
In his opening remarks today, Senate Ways and Means Chair, David Ige said, "This is an historic convening of the conference committee. I cannot ever remember beginning this early in the session on the budget. I would like to commend the House for its quick action and work in passing the budget over to the Senate early, and the Senate was inspired to do likewise."
House Finance Chair, Sylvia Luke acknowledged the leadership of Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and House Speaker Joseph M. Souki "in making it possible for us to start the conference meetings early." Luke added, "Today we are not only ready to officially open conference meetings, we are ready to make significant decisions."
Of the thousands of budget items facing the conference committee, two-thirds of them have already been agreed between what was contained in the House and Senate drafts of the budget.
Today, the chairs agreed to appropriate $100 million for fiscal Year (FY) 2014 and $117.4 million for FY2015 to begin payments on the unfunded liabilities. Currently, the unfunded liabilities for the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund is $13.6 billion.
“We believe that paying down the State’s unfunded liabilities must be a priority and can no longer be left to discretion,” said Senator Ige. “Additionally, this will put the State at the leading edge of national efforts to address this issue.”
Also today, the committee agreed on appropriating about $1.2 million each year to the Charter School Commission. This appropriation would add 15 positions.
“We both agreed to fully fund the Charter School Commission to ensure that they do have the resources to conduct the audits, to establish the performance contracts, to really do the public’s business to ensure that the public charter schools are capable of providing quality educational services to our children,” said Representative Luke.
The two sides also resolved differences on four other items today.
Additionally, Ige and Luke highlighted some of the other notable budget items upon which there was agreement in the House and Senate budget drafts.
The conference committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow, Friday, April 12 in conference room 309 at 2:30 p.m.
REPORT FROM THE LEGISLATURE - House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige have announced that the first conference committee meeting on the state budget will be held on Thursday, April 11, 9:30 a.m. in room 309 at the State Capitol.
The conference committee meetings for the state budget are being held a week earlier than normal to avoid last minute rushes to get conference bills out for final vote.
"Both the Senate and the House moved quickly to get the budget moved out of their respective legislative bodies to get us into a position to negotiate differences a week earlier and allow for more discussion time. This also allows the public the opportunity to better follow the work of the conference committee," said Representative Luke.
“We look forward to working with the House to make strategic investments in our community and provide a solid financial foundation for the State,” said Senator Ige.
The House Conferees are: Representatives Sylvia Luke, Chair; Scott Nishimoto, Aaron Ling Johanson, Ty Cullen, Mark Hashem, Kaniela Ing, Jo Jordan, Bert Kobayashi, Nicole Lowen, Dee Morikawa, Richard Onishi, Gregg Takayama, James Tokioka, Justin Woodson, Kyle Yamashita, Beth Fukumoto, Gene Ward.
The Senate Conferees are: Senators David Ige, Chair; Michelle Kidani, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Donovan Dela Cruz, J. Kalani English, Will Espero, Gilbert Kahele, Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Ronald Kouchi, Russell Ruderman, Laura Thielen, Jill Tokuda, Sam Slom.
The meeting’s hearing notice can be found on the Capitol website.
Hawaii lawmakers met at the state capitol yesterday for several hours for the second “crossover” of the 60-day working session. They debated and voted on bills before the legislation passed third reading in their respective Houses.
Bills that passed the Senate yesterday will:
Legislation that would cover settlements in lawsuits filed against the state also passed. That includes a $5.3 million settlement against the state for sex assaults that took place on the campus of the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind. Once that settlement is paid, the case will be sealed.
Another bill would use taxpayer funds to pay for campaigns of political candidates. The so-called voter owned elections were established in Hawaii years ago over the objections of then Campaign Spending Director Bob Watada.
Watada asked what Hawaii taxpayers want their money to go to politicians – including politicians they might not like?
But the voter owned elections advocates launched an aggressive campaign this year to expand their program, and so far their bill has survived this session.
In the House, several measures passed including:
Animal related measures also passed including one that will require that a person convicted of cruelty to animals in the first or second degree be prohibited from possessing or owning any animal for a yet to be designated amount of time; a second animal related bill making any cruelty offense involving 25 or more animals a class C felony.
Another measure that both restricts tobacco displays by ordering retailers keep cigarettes behind the counter and amends the medical marijuana law to increase the number of plants that can be grown by registered patients and caregivers and transfers the Medical Use Marijuana Program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health, also passed.
One of the major debates in the House was over SB1092 SD1 HD1, which would recapitalize the Hurricane Relief Trust Fund. The two warring Democratic factions debated the amount that should be replenished into the account that has been raided many times by lawmakers since it was established after Hurricane Iniki hit Hawaii.
Another bill that tourism industry officials opposed will make the 9.25 percent Transient Accommodation Tax or hotel room tax permanent. A two percent increase imposed two years ago was supposed to be temporary.
On Thursday, lawmakers will meet again to debate bills on third reading before the final crossover deadline that day.
Next week, some 200 bills will move into conference committee, where lawmakers from both Houses will meet to negotiate language in the bills before they are put up for final passage.
The legislative session ends May 2.
REPORT FROM THE HOUSE MAJORITY - The State House of Representatives voted on over a hundred-fifty bills today dealing with education, sustainability, the environment, revitalizing our economy, and improving the quality of life for Hawaii residents. The majority of bills will go into conference committees where House and Senate conferees will negotiate differences in the measures and determine which will go through for final consideration.
"We look forward to meaningful discussions with our Senate counterparts that will lead to agreements on legislation important to our State and citizens. With just about a month left in this legislative session, I believe that the state budget that we developed and the bills that we crafted have met the objectives that the House set for itself when the session began. We have engaged the community, developed sound public policies, and approached the state budget in a fiscally conservative manner," said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki.
SB1082 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION OF SCHOOL CHILDREN Repeals various provisions relating to student transportation policy requirements allowing the State to have reasonable flexibility with school bus contracts.
SB1083 HD2 RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION OF SCHOOL CHILDREN Exempts contracts from statutory requirements for wage certification, primarily base salaries for bus drivers.
SB105 SD2 HD1 RELATING TO HEALTH Requires the Department of Health's Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch to establish and maintain a statewide Fall Prevention and Early Detection Program to support the health and well-being of the elderly population.
SB102 SD2 HD1 RELATING TO THE ELDERLY Requires financial institutions to report instances of suspected financial abuse directly to the appropriate county police department as well as the Department of Human Services.
SB106 SD1 HD1 RELATING TO AGING Appropriates funds for programs and services that support the State's elderly population and establishes a Task Force on Mobility Management.
SB1093 SD2 HD2 RELATING TO SCHOOL READINESS Establishes a School Readiness Program as part of the State's Early Learning System.
SB1084 SD1 HD1 PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE X, SECTION 1, OF THE HAWAII STATE CONSTITUTION TO PERMIT THE APPROPRIATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PRIVATE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS Proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize the appropriation of public funds for the support or benefit of private early childhood education programs.
SB1095 SD2 HD2 RELATING TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION Establishes the Early Childhood Education Program. This bill is contingent upon the ratification of the constitutional amendment proposed in SB1084 above.
SB237 SD2 HD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC SCHOOL LANDS Authorizes the Board and the Department of Education to facilitate the redevelopment of public school lands, by cooperating with private enterprises; the various components of federal, state, and county governments; and the public in order to generate income to improve public school facilities and infrastructure to meet the challenges of the twenty first century.
SB563 SD3 HD2 RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII Reconstitutes the form and processes of the Candidate Advisory Council to ensure the appointment of qualified individuals to serve as members of the Board of Regents and effectively lead the University of Hawaii. Several concerns have been raised as to the selection process, which has hampered the work of the Board of Regents Candidate Advisory Council, and this bill seeks to address those concerns.
SB9 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO ANIMALS Provides greater protections for animals by requiring that a person convicted of cruelty to animals in the first or second degree shall, in addition to any fine or imprisonment, be prohibited from possessing or owning any animal involved in the offense for a period of time.
SB978 HD1 RELATING TO THE PENAL CODE Increases protections for pet animals by making the offense of cruelty to animals in the second degree involving twenty-five or more pet animals in any one instance a class C felony.
SB635 SD1 HD3 RELATING TO ANIMAL CRUELTY Establishes felony and misdemeanor offenses for injuring or killing an animal engaged in law enforcement or corrections activities.
SB642 HD2 RELATING TO HEALTH The intent of the bill is to reduce the number of under aged individuals using tobacco products by requiring that tobacco products, including cigarettes, be stored for sale behind a counter in certain retail establishments. The bill also amends the Medical Marijuana Law to, among other provisions, increase the number of plants that can be grown, limits the “adequate supply amount” to 21 or less marijuana plants among registered patients and caregivers, and transfers the Medical Use Marijuana Program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health.
SB655 SD2 HD2 RELATING TO HEALTH Protects public health by allowing health care professionals to provide Expedited Partner Therapy by dispensing or prescribing antibiotic medication. Allows health care professionals to prescribe medication for partners of a patient diagnosed with sexually transmitted disease without first examining them.
SB548 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO TELEMEDICINE Exempts from the licensing requirement to practice medicine in the State any commissioned medical officer employed by the U.S. Department of Defense, who is credentialed by Tripler Army Medical Center to provide telemedicine support. This measure is necessary to ensure that service members who seek medical services at Hawaii National Guard armories on the neighbor islands will be able to receive telemedicine support by qualified medical personnel.
SB668 SD2 HD1 RELATING TO HEALTH Requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorder treatments.
SB1171 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO THE REVIEW OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROJECTS The purpose of this bill is to protect Hawaii's historical and cultural heritage while providing flexibility in the review of construction projects. It authorizes the phased review of projects by the Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division. The inability to phase review could affect complex multi-year and multi-phase projects.
SB535 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO LABOR Extends certain basic labor rights and protections to domestic workers by prohibiting an employer from discharging or discriminating against a domestic worker in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
SB930 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO THE PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL SPACE CENTER FOR EXPLORATION SYSTEMS SUSTAINABLE CONCRETE INITIATIVE Appropriates funds to support the investigative stage of the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) sustainable concrete initiative. Requires PISCES to provide reports to the Legislature regarding the Sustainable Concrete Initiative and other issues that would support economic development in Hawaii.
SB1256 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO THE PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL SPACE CENTER FOR EXPLORATION SYSTEMSAppropriates an unspecified amount for operations, personnel costs, and the purchase of equipment required to support the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) activities. Requires PISCES to submit an annual report to the Legislature.
SB1221 SD2 HD2 RELATING TO HIGHER EDUCATION Appropriates an unspecified amount for each year of fiscal biennium 2013-2015 for a Program Coordinator and technical support staff member for the proposed international flight training center and associated proposed aeronautical training programs at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Hawaii Community College.
SB23 SD1 HD1 RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST A SEAWATER AIR CONDITIONING PROJECT Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds in an unspecified amount to assist Kaiuli Energy, LLC, with financing the planning, design, construction and other cost items of a seawater air conditioning district cooling facility and chilled water distribution system in and around Waikiki, on the island of Oahu.
SB1092 SD1 HD1 MAKING AN APPROPRIATION TO RECAPITALIZE THE HURRICANE RESERVE TRUST FUND Makes a general fund appropriation of an unspecified amount for fiscal year 2014-2015 to recapitalize the hurricane reserve trust fund.
SB1094 SD1 HD1 MAKING AN APPROPRIATION TO THE EMERGENCY AND BUDGET RESERVE FUND Makes a general fund appropriation of an unspecified amount for fiscal year 2014-2015 to recapitalize the emergency and budget reserve fund.
SB1194 SD2 HD1 RELATING TO TRANSIENT ACCOMMODATIONS TAX Repeals the additional Transient Accommodations Tax imposed by Act 61, SLH 2009 and reestablishes the tax rate at 7.25%. Repeals the daily tax on transient accommodations furnished on a complimentary or gratuitous basis imposed by Act 103, SLH 2011. Makes permanent the caps on Transient Accommodations Tax revenue distributions to the Tourism Special Fund and the counties beginning July 1, 2013.
SB98 SD1 HD1 RELATING TO TAXATION Reduces the tax liability for low-income taxpayers by creating a tax credit that will reduce a taxpayer's income tax to a minimum amount if the taxpayer's federal and Hawaii adjusted gross income falls below certain thresholds.
SB498 SD2 HD1 RELATING TO EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES Appropriates funds out of the Emergency Medical Services Special Fund to establish and fund a twenty-four-hour, seven-days-a-week, special emergency medical response vehicle unit based in Maalaea, Maui.
SB524 SD1 HD1 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE Appropriates funds to support the objective of food security and self-sufficiency by establishing an agricultural development and food security program. Establishes state economic planning and policy objectives regarding increased demand for, to, and production of locally grown foods and appropriates funds to begin meeting these objectives.
SB606 SD2 HD2 RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII Appropriates an unspecified amount to the University of Hawaii to pay student employees at new or expanded worksites on each campus and for the University of Hawaii at Manoa student employment functions.
SB614 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO PUBLIC WORKS OF ART Requires the Comptroller and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to commission permanent works of art to honor the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and the late U.S. Representative Patsy T. Mink.
SB66 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO THE CODE OF ETHICS Makes the financial disclosure statements of members of certain state boards and commissions available for public inspection and duplication. Clarifies the fair treatment law by separating out certain limitations placed on task force members from those placed on legislators and makes clear that legislators are not prohibited from taking action in the exercise of the legislator's legislative functions.
SB1357 SD2 HD1 RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION Specifies that a government agency does not assume ownership or jurisdiction over a disputed road solely through maintenance activities. This bill would allow for government entities to repair disputed roads that would otherwise not be maintained.
SB19 SD1 HD2 RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY Exempts landlords and lessors who install renewable energy systems on their property and provide, sell, or transmit electricity generated from those renewable energy systems to tenants or lessees on the premises from the definition of public utility.
SB623 SD2 HD3 RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY Replaces the current renewable energy technology systems tax credit with tax credits for solar energy property and wind energy property. Requires the Department of Taxation and Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to report tax credits claimed under the renewable energy technology property tax credit and make recommendations to the Legislature.
SB1087 SD2 HD3 RELATING TO GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE Establishes a regulatory financing structure that authorizes the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) low-cost loans for green infrastructure equipment to achieve measurable cost savings and to meet Hawaii's clean energy goals.
The House also passed two bills that will go to the Governor for his consideration and approval. They are:
SB120 SD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES Authorizes the public utilities commission to establish a policy to implement economic incentives and cost recovery regulatory mechanisms to induce and accelerate electric utilities' cost reduction efforts, encourage greater utilization of renewable energy, accelerate the retirement of utility fossil generation, and increase investments to modernize the State's electrical grids.
SB1040 RELATING TO ELECTRIC SYSTEMS Directs the Public Utilities Commission to consider the value of implementing advanced grid modernization technology in the State.
Report from the Hawaii Health Connector - The Hawaii Health Connector (Connector) announced today that it has received a $128,086,634.00 Level 2 multi-year funded grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This award will fund the customer service call center, consumer assistance program and general maintenance and operations of the Connector through December 2014. In March, the Connector announced requests for proposals for both the call center and printing and mailing services in preparation for the October 1, 2013 go live date. To date, Hawaii has received approximately $205 million dollars in federal grant money to support the build and implementation of the Connector. The Connector is currently 100 percent federally funded through December 2014.
“This federal grant will help to inform the people of Hawaii about the Hawaii Health Connector and how it will provide greater access to health care coverage,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “The Connector continues to be an important part of the community’s efforts to transform healthcare in our state.”
"Implementing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act in our state will continue to be a top priority,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “Last month marked three years since this important law was enacted, and we’ve already seen thousands of people across the country receive access to affordable care and preventative services. This funding is critical for a call center and consumer assistance program that will help Hawaii families make important choices about the care they receive.”
"Today’s funding announcement for Hawaii Health Connector is great news for Hawaii families and our economy,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono. “I was proud to join President Obama in his fight to make health care more affordable for all families, and the Hawaii Health Connector is a key step in lowering the health care costs for families here in the islands.”
“The strength of this federal grant is that it reaches all residents in Hawaii,” said Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa. “The consumer assistance program will help individuals and small business owners compare and navigate their health insurance choices. I'm especially grateful that we're helping Hawaii's many small businesses, and that this cornerstone of our economy will have access to quality health care.”
“The $128 million awarded to Hawaii Health Connector today, shows Hawaii is prepared and taking the lead nationally,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “Ensuring access and availability to health care throughout our state, especially for those in our underserved communities, will help them obtain the quality care they deserve.”
"The funding will help to address the unmet needs of the uninsured throughout the State." State Senator Rosalyn Baker said. "The Hawaii Health Connector is to be congratulated in developing leading edge, public-private partnership and interagency collaboration models which can be applied in the future."
“The Hawaii Health Connector is of Hawaii, for Hawaii. Our board and staff are diligently working to make sure the Connector is built to provide better access to health care coverage to everyone in our state,” said Hardy Spoehr, Hawaii Health Connector’s board chair. “We believe this funding will provide greater opportunities for the public to learn about health insurance options, tax credits and subsidies available through the Connector.”
“The Connector remains focused on our mission to provide a state based health insurance exchange that is committed to supporting the unique needs of our community,” said Coral Andrews, executive director for the Hawaii Health Connector. “Along with our federal and state partners, we are working to enhance, empower and improve lives throughout the state by making health insurance accessible to all.”
The Hawaii Health Connector is the online health insurance exchange for Hawaii. The Connector was established as a non-profit organization in 2011 by the Hawaii State Legislature through Act 205, in order to comply with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010. The Connector’s aim is an online marketplace that is of Hawaii-for-Hawaii, one that takes into account the State’s unique culture and works with the Prepaid Health Care Act, an employer mandate for health insurance coverage in effect since 1974. For more information, visit www.hawaiihealthconnector.com.