HAWAII STATE CAPITOL Photo: Emily Metcalf
HAWAII STATE CAPITOL Photo: Emily Metcalf

REPORT FROM THE HOUSE MAJORITY – The House of Representatives today approved measures aligned with its priorities for the 2012 Legislative Session. The bills, which are part of 286 measures that passed third reading before crossing over to the Senate, focus on Economic Revitalization and Business, Agriculture, Military Affairs, and Healthcare.

The House advanced an economic revitalization package of bills that positions Hawaii for economic recovery by focusing on emerging sectors of the State’s economy in order to stimulate job creation. These sectors include film and digital media, aerospace, renewable energy, infrastructure and construction, broadband, tourism, and the military.

The agriculture package facilitates growth in three primary sectors of our agri-economy: honeybee farming, coffee farming, and livestock feed production. The remaining agriculture legislation deals with providing sufficient agricultural and pest inspection coverage to ensure food safety and biosecurity protection.

Legislation pertaining to military affairs offers protection for military members and their dependants against predatory lending practices, permits military experience to be counted towards academic credit and professional licensing requirements, and establishes a Veterans Court to better account for the psychological impact of deployments on military offenders.

Lawmakers took swift and decisive action in response to the closing of both Hawaii Medical Center locations, passing a legislative package to minimize any further lapses in healthcare and emergency services. The following Health bills, pointedly HB2345 and HB609, provide possible alternatives to address the closure of Hawaii Medical Center facilities and the dramatic rippling effects it has had on Oahu. Also part of the Health package is a measure that would create a concussion awareness program in Hawaii schools.

Economic Revitalization

HB2869 Relating to the Economy. HB2869 supports the motion picture, digital media, and film production industries in the State by extending the film tax credit from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2025. It increases the qualified production tax credit ceiling; separates the calculation of the credit amount based on wages and salaries from the credit amount based on other qualified production costs; and provides different credit amounts based on residence within the counties for the wages and salaries paid to all cast, crew, and musicians of the qualified production, plus an additional unspecified per cent credit amount on wages and salaries of cast, crew, and musicians who are state residents. Effective July 1, 2030.

HB2319 Relating to Economic Development. HB2319 Establishes a Venture Accelerator Funding Program under the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation to assist the State’s technology businesses to compete for investment capital. Effective July 1, 2030.

HB1511 Relating to High Technology. HB1511 requires the University of Hawaii to extend the current land lease with the high technology development corporation for no less than 25 years from the date of expiration of the existing lease. Effective July 1, 2012.

HB2873 Relating to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems. HB2873 transfers the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) from the University of Hawaii to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s Office of Aerospace Development. It also establishes a PISCES board of directors, appropriates funds, and authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds, and includes an aerospace research technology park in Hawaii County. Effective July 1, 2112.

HB2145 Relating to Economic Development. HB2145 makes as state policy the delineation of the key economic sectors of importance for economic diversification in Hawaii and identification of key projects within those sectors that are important to the long-term growth and success of those industries.  The key economic sectors include renewable energy, broadband, infrastructure and construction, aerospace, tourism, film and digital media, and the military. The measure promotes over 10-years specific projects within these sectors.  Effective July 1, 2012.

HB1671 Relating to Procurement. HB1671 imposes time limits on rendering administrative and judicial review decisions, and limits protests to those that are a minimum percentage of the contract value. The measure requires posting of a protest bond, to be forfeited if the protesting party does not prevail.

Agriculture

HB 2100 Relating to Bees.  HB2100 appropriates funds to the University of Hawai’i for statewide honeybee hive research. The bill will give $10,000 each to the counties of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai, and the University of Hawai’i at Hilo for hands-on training with honeybee hives.

HB 280 Relating to Agriculture.  House Bill 280 will remove the requirement that all Hawaii-grown green coffee beans shall be inspected and certified by the Department of Agriculture and permits Hawaii-grown green coffee beans to be shipped outside the area of their geographic origin without being inspected by the Department of Agriculture.

HB 2244 Relating to Agriculture Inspectors. House Bill 2244 authorizes the Department of Agriculture to establish compliance agreements with the federal government and other states for inspections conducted in the state of origin. This will mitigate the risk posed to biosecurity in the form of invasive species being transported with imported goods. The legislation will also bring Hawaii’s fruit, vegetable, and flower export industries into compliance with federal regulations and requirements from other states.

HB 1943 Relating to Invasive Species. House Bill 1943 makes an appropriation to the Department of Agriculture to fund the plant quarantine detector-dog program.  State funds will replace Federal funds that sponsored the detector-dog program that ended with recent budget cuts. The primary role of the detector-dog program is to prevent the brown tree snake from coming to Hawai’i, but it will also cover other threats to the state’s biosecurity.

HB 1942 Relating to Agriculture.  HB1942 allows moneys in the pest inspection, quarantine, and eradication fund to be expended for the Electronic Importer Manifest Program (EIMP). The EIMP is a Department of Agriculture mandate that provides for the transfer from an importer to the plant quarantine inspector of data on all commodities of interest imported by aircraft or ship.

HB 1941 Making an Appropriation for Agricultural Inspection Facilities and Related Infrastructure.  HB1941 makes a total appropriation of $17,000,000 to establish agricultural inspection biosecurity facilities and related infrastructure at the Honolulu International Airport, Kona International Airport, Kawaihae Harbor, Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant, and Honolulu Harbor.

HB 2093 Relating to Agricultural Education.  HB2093 establishes a Center for Agricultural Leadership within the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and requires the University of Hawai’i to establish a two-year pilot project at one high school in each county to determine the steps necessary for a school farm to be food safety certified by the Department of Agriculture.

HB 1947 Relating to Agriculture.  House Bill 1947 authorizes the Department of Agriculture to establish an Agricultural Safety and Security Program, which will be accompanied by an Agricultural Practices Audit and Certification Revolving Fund.  Under the voluntary program, the Department will conduct audit and certification services indicating a producer’s compliance with generally accepted agricultural and management practices as well as food security and traceability requirements.

HB 2668 Relating to Agriculture.  HB2668 amends an important agricultural land tax credit to allow an additional fifteen percent credit for drought mitigation and changes the tax credit cap from $7,500,000 per year to $5,000,000 per year for the 2012 tax year, and $7,000,000 for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 tax years. The bill also creates a livestock feed tax credit for 2012 and creates a feed development tax credit program for 2013 and 2014.

Military

HB 2410 Relating to the Military.  HB 2410 requires the Governor to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide continued support for the military’s presence in Hawai’i.

HB 2409 Relating to Consumer Protection.  House Bill 2409 authorizes the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) to enforce existing federal laws protecting military members and their families.  The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 limits the terms of credit that may be applied to military members and their dependents.  The act is designed to protect military members and their families from unfair lending practices that are commonly used by issuers of payday loans, vehicle title loans, and tax refund anticipation loans.  There is no federal enforcement mechanism for the legislation, and HB 2409 will authorize the DCCA to take action in the state of Hawai’i.

HB 2258 Relating to Professional and Vocational Licensing
House Bill 2258 allows professional and vocational licensing authorities to accept military training, education, and service towards licensing requirements.

HB 2639 Relating to Higher Education
House Bill 2639 authorizes the University of Hawai’i system to grant military members with college credits for military experience.  Military members currently receive college credits for military training, but not for professional experience while serving. The bill will establish a learning assessment to determine college-level learning gained during military service.

HB2798 Relating to a Veterans Treatment Court.  HB2798 establishes a Veterans Court that will allow Hawai’i to join more than a dozen states across the country in taking into account the impact returning home from combat has on veterans when administering justice.  The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have caused a spike in veterans going through the court system. The Veterans Treatment Court is a system that recognizes the psychological effects of deployments and gives veterans a degree of justice commensurate with their service.

Health Bills

HB2345 Relating to the Issuance of Special Purpose Revenue Bonds to Assist St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii. HB2345 supports the St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii to apply for a special purpose revenue bond of up to $80 million to potentially finance the construction, improvement, and equipment of its healthcare facilities.

HB609 Relating to Health. HB609 supports and explores the idea of the State’s Hawaii Health System Corporation to assimilate or acquire the Hawaii Medical Center – East Facility.
HB1953 Relating to Emergency Medical Care. HB1953 provides for the medical needs of Leeward Oahu in light of the closure of Hawaii Medical Center’s two hospitals, by appropriating funds to increase the on-call availability of emergency medical services and ambulance services, and assist Wahiawa General Hospital in providing additional emergency room services given its increase in patients and emergency cases.
HB1953 Relating to Bone Marrow Transplants.  Relating to HB1952 appropriates funds subject to a dollar-for-dollar match between private and public funds to Hawaii Pacific Health (Kapiolani, Straub, Pali Momi) to provide and restart a bone marrow transplant program within the State. HMC West and East facilities were primary bone marrow transplant facilities and their closure has forced patients to relocate to the mainland to receive treatment. This measure will help alleviate the extra financial burden on these patients and their family support system by creating this important program in Hawaii.

HB2273 Relating to Concussions. HB2273 works with coaches, athletic trainers, the DOE and the DOH to create and administer a concussion awareness program to provide guidelines for Hawaii public and private schools.

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Thelma Mary Dreyer

Assistant Director of Communications
Hawaii House of Representatives – Majority
Office: 808-587-7242
Cell: 808-589-7129
dreyer@capitol.hawaii.gov

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