REPORT FROM THE SENATE MAJORITY — Ahead of the First Crossover deadline, the Hawaii State Senate passed 348 bills during Tuesday’s session. The bills now head over to the House for consideration.
The First Crossover deadline is on Thursday, March 7, 2013. This is the last day for a final vote on a bill to occur in its originating chamber before it is passed on to the other chamber for further consideration. During First Crossover, all Senate bills that pass Third Reading must crossover to the House and all House bills that pass Third Reading must crossover to the Senate by the March 7 deadline.
“Some of the measures the Senate Majority passed would reform and improve government, making it more transparent and accountable,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “Through these measures we hope to achieve a more efficient and effective government.”
“We’ve introduced more than a thousand bills, and we’ve passed more than three hundred measures that we believe will help move Hawaii forward, building a stronger economy to create jobs and strengthen our safety net,” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.
Here are highlights of bills that have passed third reading:
Food and Energy Resiliency
With the Senate Majority exploring the concept of food self-reliance and agricultural resiliency within the State, the Caucus took steps toward developing a strong foundation that will enhance food and agricultural self-sufficiency by passing several bills to support this mission.
The Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 937, which establishes a food resiliency initiative under the Department of Agriculture to achieve measurable goals of food self-sufficiency. To support Hawaii’s livestock production, SB 593 expands livestock feed subsidies to include goat milk, sheep, lamb, fish, and crustaceans. Increasing livestock production is vitally necessary to meet the State’s goals of ensuring food security and self-sufficiency.
The Senate Majority continues to advance the Hawai’i Clean Energy Initiative and align government regulations and policies with clean energy goals. To support the State’s clean energy objectives, SB 19 was passed to exempt landlords who install renewable energy systems from the onerous requirements imposed on public utilities and serves as an incentive for landlords to adopt renewable energy systems. SB 120 authorizes the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to establish a policy to incentivize Hawaii’s electric utility companies to make needed reforms that attain lower electricity rates.
SB 1087 provides a lower cost financing alternative for Hawaii businesses and residents to utilize green infrastructure equipment and technology to reduce electricity consumption by leveraging clean energy technology.
The innovative financing method created in this measure will provide a secure financing structure to allow the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to issue revenue bonds at very competitive rates, which savings can be passed on to the consumers in the form of lower borrowing costs. With concerns over the current solar energy tax credit policy, SB 623 was passed to administer tax credits in a more balanced manner. This measure replaces the current renewable energy technology systems tax credit with tax credits for solar energy property and wind energy property.
Supporting People, Strengthening Communities
From keiki to kupuna to ohana, the Senate Majority continues to support the State’s core functions, including programs for those most in need. To encourage positive outcomes for our young keiki and to prepare them to thrive in an educational environment, Senate Bills 1093, 1084 and 1095 were passed to establish an early childhood education program.
To improve the quality of health care services and operational efficiencies of health facilities, SB 1306 would permit the regional systems of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation and their health facilities to transition to non-public status. This measure would help address financial challenges of the public hospitals. SB 665 is another measure that’s expected to ensure quality of health care services. The bill addresses the primary care physician shortage in the State through a comprehensive primary care workforce development plan that includes loan repayment, diversity programs, and primary care workforce expansion.
Homelessness in Hawaii is a significant problem in the State and the Senate Majority is working to find ways to help people and families who are homeless. SB 515 appropriates funding for services and programs that target issues such as substance abuse, mental health, housing assistance, health care, and employment to help reduce the number of homeless in Hawaii.
Government Efficiency and Accountability
The Senate Majority encourages long-term planning and efficiency efforts to fundamentally change the character and delivery of government services. The Senate continues to promote the enhancement of the State’s information technology services and support the Governor’s Chief Information Officer as he works on modernizing the technology infrastructure. SB 1003 authorizes the Chief Information Officer to conduct security audits to protect the State’s information and data, preventing intrusions and theft of the public’s personal information.
Drawing upon the recommendations of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability for the improvement of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawai’i, the Senate Majority passed several bills addressing some issues unveiled during the committee’s hearings. SB 1384 changes the way legal services are obtained by the University of Hawaii. SB 1385 requires the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to undergo annual training and certifications board policies and procedures as well as several laws, including sunshine law and open records laws. SB 1387 improves the selection process for members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents and SB 1388 reduces the membership of the Board of Directors of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii.
OTHER NOTABLE BILLS:
- SB 1349 Reestablishes the income tax credit for qualified research activities to encourage job growth in research and development. This measure contributes to the diversification of the State’s economy by creating and maintaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs in the State.
- SB 463 Encourages the growth of the film and creative media industries by extending the motion picture, digital media, and film production income tax credit. It also creates a tax credit for qualified digital media infrastructure projects in West Oahu or the most populous island in a county.
- SB 237 Establishes a three-year pilot program to optimize the use of public school lands for public purposes and to generate revenue to build and retrofit twenty-first century schools and create more school-centered communities.
- SB 69 Requires county police departments, as a prerequisite for firearms registration, to fingerprint, photograph, and perform background checks on persons arriving in Hawaii with a firearm procured out-of-state. The measure also establishes gun safety programs.
- SB 1370 Ensures mortgage foreclosure dispute resolution is equally available for nonjudicial and judicial foreclosures. This gives all mortgagors facing foreclosure in Hawaii an opportunity to have a specifically trained mediator who can offer assistance regarding the mortgagor’s financial situation and any available options.
- SB 654 Mandates health insurance coverage for treatments related to the cessation of tobacco use and informs policyholders about the availability of the new coverage.
- SB 945 Allows condominium associations and cooperative housing corporations to adopt rules to prohibit smoking in units, common elements, or limited common elements if a majority of the tenant shareholders or owners approved the smoking prohibition.
- SB 414 Requires specified persons who own, control, or have custody or control of more than ten dogs over the age of four months with intact sexual organs to meet minimum standards of care and prohibit these persons from placing certain types of dogs in the same enclosure.
For more information on the bills: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/