Tuesday, February 2, 2010

House Freshmen Caucus Bills

After debating hundreds of issues and ideas over the legislative interim, newly-elected State Representatives worked together to create a group of bills of their own that will address some of Hawaii's top priorities 2010.

The focus of their new ideas will be: The Economy, Energy, Community and Education.

The seven new Representatives met regularly and worked over the summer and fall of 2009 to discuss the merits of proposals, and revised and selected bills most important for the state and their respective communities. The bills reflect their collective work, and aim to tackle many of the critical issues facing the state.

"With our diverse perspectives, the freshmen package reflects our belief that we can and must use these challenging economic times to benefit all of Hawaii,” said Rep. Jessica Wooley (D- Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Kahana, Kaaawa, Waikane, Kahaluu, Ahuimanu, Kaneohe). “Whether you are a parent, student, or grandparent, or you are a business, investor, or worker, the freshmen caucus is committed to making your life and Hawaii’s future even better."

"We think it's critically important that in Hawaii's most difficult year, there will be a fresh group of newly elected residents who will be looking at our state's problems with a new set of eyes, and thinking outside the box," said freshman Rep. Chris Lee (D-Kailua, Waimanalo).

Safeguarding our Environment

HB 2125: Relating to Environmental Protection. Under this bill, businesses in the state will collect an offset fee for each plastic disposable checkout bag distributed to customers. Members of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) met in Honolulu this month to announce their "Marine Debris Action Plan" to protect endangered ocean life from pollution and reduce the hundreds of tons of plastic that wash up on reefs and shores every year. To go one step further, the freshmen representatives want to stop plastic pollution right where it begins, and help Hawaii's businesses transition to a more sustainable, and environmentally-friendly future.

"Last year I sponsored a bill to protect Hawaii's endangered manta rays, and this bill will help protect all Hawaii's marine mammals," said Rep. Denny Coffman (D- North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau).

HB 2130: Relating to Taxation; Environmental Response Tax. The bill requires a marine terminal operator rather than a distributor to collect the environmental response tax from the owner of petroleum products at the time those products are received at the terminal.

"HB 2130 is one example of how we collectively were able to identify a huge tax loophole in existing law,” said Rep. Jessica Wooley (D- Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Kahana, Kaaawa, Waikane, Kahaluu, Ahuimanu, Kaneohe). “Right now, the revenue collected to fund oil spill clean ups is far short of the amounts owed. This bill will shift the accounting methods to make it easy to find scofflaws and account for revenues."

Transforming Education

"All states are under financial pressure, but none are cutting this much learning time from their school year," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said. To prevent school furloughs from ever happening again, and to lay the groundwork for a better education for Hawaii's children, we are introducing bills to amend the Hawaii State Constitution to require that the public school year has a minimum length of 190 instructional days.

HB2126: Proposing an Amendment to the Hawaii Constitution Relating to Education.
This bill enacts a Constitutional Amendment to require the Department of Education to provide a minimum of 190 instructional days in each school year.

HB 2127: Relating to Education. This bill amends statute to require the Department of Education to provide a minimum of 190 instructional days in each school year.

"It's important that we address this issue now to ensure our students a full education in the years to come, no matter how difficult our economy gets," said Rep. Mark Nakashima (D- North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo).

"What we use our precious taxpayer dollars on reflects what we as a community believe is important,” said Rep. Keith-Agaran (D- Kahului, Wailuku, Puunene, Spreckelsville, Paia). “As someone who benefited from our public school system, I believe making sure our children continue to have an opportunity to learn and to dream is essential."

Streamlining Government

HB 2128: Relating to Public Procurement; Hawaii Public Procurement Code. This bill exempts contracts for the purchase of goods, services, construction, or health and human services from chapters 103D and 103F, Hawaii Revised Statutes for 36 months.

"Jobs are the number one criteria for economic recovery,” said Rep. Isaac Choy (D-Manoa). “Temporarily streamlining the state procurement process will enable state projects to be put into work quickly, thereby creating jobs for our residents."

Protecting Our Community

HB 2129: Relating to Graffiti. In many communities, the Honolulu Police Department and countless volunteers have been waging a battle against vandalism. In addition to community watchdogs, this bill requires a person convicted of criminal property damage involving graffiti to not only remove the graffiti within 30 days of sentencing, but also take responsibility for removing graffiti within 100 yards of the site of the offense for two years, or reimburse property owners for costs incurred for removing graffiti in the same area, for the same duration.

"Our radical new approach will make those convicted for vandalism responsible for preventing it, and give them reason to start caring about keeping our community clean," said Rep. Henry Aquino (D-Pearl City, Waipahu).

The members of the Freshmen Caucus/Contact:

Rep. Henry Aquino – District 35: Pearl City, Waipahu. 586-6520

Rep. Isaac Choy – District 24: Manoa, University, McCully. 586-8475

Rep. Denny Coffman – District 6: North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau. 586-9605

Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran – District 9: Kahului, Wailuku, Puunene, Paia, Spreckelsville. 586-6210

Rep. Chris Lee – District 51: Kailua, Waimanalo. 586-9450

Rep. Mark Nakashima – District 1: North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo. 586-6680

Rep. Jessica Wooley – District 47: Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Kahana, Kaaawa, Waikane, Kahaluu, Ahuimanu, Kaneohe. 586-8540

The freshmen class members of the House of Representatives were elected in 2008. The 2010 session is their second legislative session.

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