Bills Pass Supporting Healthcare, Education, Restructuring Government and the Economy
The Hawai‘i State Senate adjourned the 2021 regular session on Thursday after taking action on a number of priority areas including healthcare, education, restructuring of government and the economy.
The 2021 Senate Legislative Program focuses on 10 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals identified that are aimed at providing a framework for improving the quality of life now and for future generations.
“These extraordinary times have required us to take unprecedented measures to ensure that we adhere to our constitutional duties of passing a balanced budget while also providing needed resources to our districts and communities,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English (District 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe). “What we accomplished this session is just the beginning of what needs to be done to help Hawaiʻi fully recover from the impact of this COVID-19 pandemic and I’m confident that the Senate will continue to work through the interim to tackle some of these tough issues.”
Among the most significant measures that passed this session was HB200 HD1 SD1 CD1, the State Budget. This measure provides $14.926 billion in general funds, $1.352 billion in federal aid from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) and $31.17 billion through all methods of funding for the fiscal biennium beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2023.
Included in the budget is $31,035,000 for cash support for childcare, $14,300,000 for continued homeless services, $2,594,198 for the Early College Program and $5,400,000 for additional funding for General Assistance payments for temporarily disabled individuals.
Other important bills approved by the Legislature that are in alignment with the Senate’s priorities are:
SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being
SB936 SD2 HD1 CD1 (Brennan’s Bill) authorizes the Department of Health to disseminate information on seizure first aid. The measure also authorizes employers to disseminate information on seizure first aid provided by the Department of Health to their employees at the employer’s workplace.
SB970 SD2 HD2 authorizes the establishment of a physician-patient relationship via a telehealth interaction if the physician is licensed to practice medicine in the State.
HB723 HD1 SD2 CD1 authorizes use of funds appropriated from the emergency and budget reserve fund, from the amounts received by the State from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, for the purchase and distribution of personal protective equipment and industrial hygiene products to state departments and attached agencies.
SDG #4: Quality Education
SB1384 HD1 CD1 provides that the prohibition against serving two consecutive terms not to exceed eight consecutive years shall not apply to the term of the representative of Hawaiian medium early learning providers on the Early Learning Board.
HB613 HD2 SD2 CD2 allocates monies received by the state from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to areas where local schools are lacking the most.
SB242 SD2 HD2 CD1 requires that public and charter schools offer education in computer science.
SB811 HD1 CD1 requires the department of education to publish a weekly report on schools that have reported positive COVID-19 cases.
SDG #7: Affordable and Clean Energy
SB932 SD2 HD1 CD1 establishes the clean energy and energy efficiency revolving loan fund. The measure also authorizes monies in the green infrastructure special fund to be used to finance the option to purchase solar energy systems and other clean energy equipment, including the purchase or lease of electric vehicles.
HB1142 HD2 SD2 CD1 allocates three cents of the barrel tax to fund the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging systems. The measure also authorizes each county to adopt ordinances to enforce section 291-71, Hawaii Revised Statutes, including the establishment of penalties for failure to comply with its requirements or make reasonable efforts to maintain EV charging systems in working order.
SDG #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
SB263 SD2 HD2 CD1 transfers oversight of the “Hawaiʻi Made” program for manufactured products and the “Hawaiʻi Made” trademark to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.
SB1043 SD2 HD1 CD1 expands the eligibility of organizations that can receive Community‑based Economic Development (CBED) technical assistance from not just community-based organizations (non-profits), but also includes businesses, particularly those that currently have CBED loans or may apply for a CBED loan in the future.
HB1191 HD2 SD2 CD1 establishes the broadband infrastructure grant program to award grants to applicants to extend deployment of infrastructure used to provide broadband service to unserved and underserved areas of the State. The measure also establishes the Hawaiʻi broadband and digital equity office within the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism and requires the governor to appoint a strategic broadband coordinator to head the Hawaii broadband and digital equity office.
SDG #9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
SB696 SD1 HD1 CD1 extends the date on which the temporary commission on the thirteenth festival of pacific arts shall cease to exist to August 31, 2025.
SB1015 SD2 HD1 CD1 expands the comptroller’s duties to include the assessment of office space, including initiating, canceling, and renegotiating current and new leases, office space allocation, and telework infrastructure requirements for agencies and employees occupying facilities managed by the Department of Accounting and General Services or in non-state facilities.
SDG #10: Reduced Inequalities
SB159 SD1 HD1 CD1 makes an application for voter registration part of all state identification card and driver’s license applications. The measure also requires updating of names and addresses of qualified applicants who are already registered to vote unless the applicant declines.
SB548 SD1 HD2 CD1 establishes a voters with special needs advisory committees at the state and county levels. The measure also requires the department of public safety and Hawaii paroling authority to inform individuals on parole or probation of their right to vote and provide them with voting information; and requires the Office of Elections and the county clerks to make a determination, as soon as practicable, of the optimal number and placement of voter service centers.
SB793 SD1 HD1 CD1 repeals the exemption of individuals with disabilities from minimum wage requirements.
HB282 HD1 SD2 CD1 clarifies the definition of “provider” as it relates to the entities eligible to provide no cost emergency shelter and related services to a consenting minor to include certain organizations who are not considered child placing organizations or child caring institutions.
SDG #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SB244 SD2 HD1 CD1 expands liability protection for donors to include donations of food and similar donations made to needy persons by organizations. The measure also authorizes the donation of expired food when the donor reasonably believes in good faith that the food remains fit for human consumption.
HB79 HD1 SD2 CD1 establishes an affordable homeownership revolving fund within HHFDC to provide loans to nonprofit community development financial institutions and nonprofit housing development organizations for the development of affordable homeownership housing projects.
HB683 HD2 SD1 CD1 establishes the sustainable aviation fuel program to provide matching grants to any small business in Hawaii that is developing products related to sustainable aviation fuel or greenhouse gas reduction from commercial aviation operations.
HB753 HD1 SD2 excludes housing developed by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands from school impact fees for 3 years and allows construction cost component impact fees to be used to improve or renovate existing structures for school use.
HB767 HD2 SD2 expands the Hawaiʻi farm to school program from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Education. The measure also stablishes a programmatic goal for the Department of Education that at least 30% of food served in public schools shall consist of locally sourced products by 2030.
SDG #13: Climate Action
SB474 SD1 HD2 CD1 requires hat mandatory seller disclosures in real estate transactions include identification of residential real properties lying within the sea level rise exposure area.
HB243 HD1 SD2 CD1 requires the Office of Planning, in cooperation with each state agency having operational responsibilities over state facilities, to identify existing and planned facilities that are vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding impacts, and natural hazards; assess a range of options to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise to those facilities; and submit annual reports to the Governor, Legislature, and Hawaii climate change mitigation and adaptation commission regarding the vulnerability and adaptation assessments for state facilities and the progress made in implementing sea level rise adaptation in future plans, programs, and capital improvement needs and decisions.
SDG #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
HB862 HD2 SD2 CD1 abolishes the Office of Aerospace Development, Aerospace Advisory Committee, and Hawaiʻi Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Site Advisory Board. The measure also authorizes the counties to establish a county transient accommodations tax at a rate not to exceed three per cent.
HB1318 HD1 SD1 CD1 transfers the rights, powers, employees, appropriations, and other personal property from the Office of Environmental Quality Control to the Office of Planning.
HB200 HD1 SD1 CD1 consolidates a number of departmental agencies and commissions. These include the consolidation of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts; consolidation of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services programs for efficiency and resource alignment; and the consolidation of personnel from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Research and Statistics Office and the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s Tourism Research Office into the Research and Economic Analysis Division to centralize state research functions.
The Governor has until June 21, 2021, to provide the Legislature with notification of his intent to veto.