Friday, February 24, 2012

House Finance Passes Military Package

Left to right: Rep. Ty Cullen (Vice Chair, Public Safety & Military Affairs), Laurie Crehan (Regional Liaison, Department of Defense), Rep. Marcus Oshiro (Chair, Finance) and Rep. Henry Aquino (Chair, Public Safety & Military Affairs)

The House Committee on Finance on Thursday, February 23, 2012, approved a legislative package supporting the military in Hawai’i. The adoption of five bills supporting the overall military presence in the state as well as military members and veterans are as follows:

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.

“Tourism and the military are the two pillars of our economy.  House Bill 2410 will further bolster the relationship between the state of Hawai’i and the U.S. Department of Defense, ensuring continued cooperation moving forward,” said House Committee on Public Safety & Military Affairs Chair, Rep. Henry J.C. Aquino.

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.

“The federal government has acknowledged the fact that military members and their families are targeted by predatory lenders and passed laws protecting those who protect us," said Rep. Aquino.

HB 2258 Relating to Professional and Vocational Licensing
HB 2639 Relating to Higher Education

House Bill 2258 allows professional and vocational licensing authorities to accept military training, education, and service towards licensing requirements.  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.

“Our commitment to military members does not end with their service to our country," said Rep. Aquino.  "Mandating that the University of Hawai’i, as well as professional and vocational licensing authorities, to recognize military training is a key step in helping veterans transition to the civilian work force."

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.

“The passage of these five pieces of legislation shows the commitment to and appreciation of the military, service members, and their families that is consistent with the values and priorities of the state of Hawai’i,” said Rep. Aquino.

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