2014 HOUSE-SENATE JOINT MAJORITY PACKAGE FOCUSES ON KUPUNA AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Waipahu Representative Aquino leads House efforts to develop the joint package
Honolulu, Hawaii - Senate and House leaders announced a joint majority package of priorities for the 2014 legislative session. The last time a joint majority package was unveiled was during the 2008 Legislative Session. The significance of a joint package is that the included bills are considered to have statewide importance and the commitment of the majorities of both chambers.
“It has been years, since both houses have been able to come together to support a joint legislative package,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “The resulting proposed legislation is the result of the tireless efforts of representatives from both houses, including Representative Henry Aquino (Waipahu), who helped pull together all the various interests and priorities to find mutual ground and commitments to serious concerns that are statewide and cross political boundaries.”
Lawmakers will focus their combined efforts on two major areas of concern: Seniors and the Environment. The kupuna package includes proposed legislation to protect seniors from financial abuse, support healthy aging programs and increase public awareness of long-term care.
In the last 30 years, the number of seniors over 60 in Hawaii grew by nearly 140 percent and seniors over 85 increased by more than 430 percent. Moreover, studies project that Hawaii’s seniors over 60 will make up nearly a third of the State’s total population by 2035.
“From a cost savings standpoint, which could be significant, it is in all of our best interest to help our families with their kupuna before they fall into our social safety net,” said Aquino who is the House Majority Policy Leader. “The savings notwithstanding, it is the right thing to do.”
With regard to the environment, majority members will address concerns on the effects of climate change and invasive species on our islands. The current severe erosion on Oahu’s North Shore beaches and the threat to homes in the area dramatically illustrate how future climate change could impact Hawaii shorelines.
“We often think of these islands as permanent and unchanging,” said Aquino. “But our environment is fragile and constantly changing, and increasingly threatened by outside forces. We need to be aware of these threats and develop a concerted effort to protect our people, environment, agriculture and economy from them.”
Relating to Aging: This is a two-part bill that funds healthy aging programs and services, and provides resources for the implementation of a public education and awareness campaign on long-term care. Most successful senior programs recognize and build upon integrated health and social services.
Therefore, the bill allocates a total of $6.6 million to support community-based programs that incorporate collaborations between health care and social service agencies. The second part of the bill provides $500,000 for the Department of Health’s Executive Office on Aging to implement a public education and awareness campaign to help better prepare Hawaii residents in planning for future long-term care needs.
Relating to the Investor Education Program: This bill provides a proposed $50,000 in funding for outreach initiatives of the Office of Consumer Protection (DCCA) to prevent financial abuse of seniors.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
Relating to Climate Change: This bill provides the resources and timeline to ensure Hawaii adapts to protect the public from the effects of climate change. Provides positions and resources to the Office of Planning who will, within 18 months, come up with plans and policy recommendations to effectively address the worst impacts expected through 2050.
Relating to Invasive Species: This bill provides a proposed $5 million in funding for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to help eradicate threats from invasive species on all the islands.
The full package is available at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?report=package&pkey=92&year=2014&name=Joint+Majority+Package