Tuesday, April 29, 2014

House Passes Final Group of Bills for 2014 Session

 Measures relate to state budget, minimum wage, TAT, Health Connector, seniors, invasive species, mandatory kindergarten, police misconduct, abuse of minors

Two days before the close of session, the House today approved bills that address a wide range of issues, including raising the minimum wage, restructuring the state Health Connector, increasing the counties’ share of the State’s Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) and approving the State Budget. 

Budget considerations and measures that required funding were hampered with lower than expected revenue projections, as well as the misconception that the State was flush with a revenue surplus. Nevertheless, lawmakers were able to raise the cap on the TAT, increasing the counties’ share by $20 million over the next two years. In addition, the Legislature was able to recapitalize the state’s Hurricane Relief Fund and its rainy day fund, and continue to pay down its unfunded liabilities.

"Long-term financial obligations aside, we worked hard to respond to the needs of our kupuna and to raise the income of our families on the lowest rung of the economic ladder,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “We’ve worked to better protect our seniors from financial abuse and support them with a variety of programs and services. We passed a number of bills to improve our schools at all levels and to protect our most vulnerable from harm including our keiki.

“We’ve also made progress in protecting our environment and our economy from destructive invasive species and will create a task force to look into planning for catastrophic events because of climate change.”

Additionally, this session is the first time since the 2008 Legislative session that a joint House and Senate Majority Package has been offered (SB2345, SB2346 and HB1714 focus on helping seniors and addressing climate change). The significance of such a package is that the included bills are considered to have statewide importance and the commitment of the majorities of both chambers.

Highlights of the measures passed include:

SB2134, SD1, HD1, CD1 amends various sections of chapter 302A, HRS, relating to Department of Education schools to comply with the requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

SB2768, SD2, HD2, CD1 makes kindergarten mandatory for children who will be at least five years of age on July 31 of the school year, unless otherwise exempt.

SB2345, SD1, HD1, CD1 appropriates funds for educational outreach to protect vulnerable kupuna based on DCCA's existing investor education programs, particularly in the areas of annuities and ponzi schemes. MAJORITY PACKAGE

SB2346, SD1, HD2, CD1 appropriates general funds to the Department of Health for community-based services and programs for older persons. Requires the Department of Health Executive Office on Aging to conduct a public education and awareness campaign on long-term care and appropriates funds for this purpose. MAJORITY PACKAGE

HB2053, HD1, SD1, CD1 establishes a Fall Prevention and Early Detection Coordinator position within the Department of Health's Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch and appropriates funds for this purpose.

SB2609, SD1, HD2, CD1 increases minimum wage rate to $7.75 per hour beginning on 1/1/15, $8.50 per hour beginning on 1/1/16, $9.25 per hour beginning on 1/1/17, and $10.10 per hour beginning on 1/1/18. Increases the tip credit to 50 cents per hour beginning on 1/1/15, and 75 cents per hour beginning on 1/1/16; provided that beginning 1/1/15, the combined amount the employee receives in wages and tips is at least $7 more than the applicable minimum wage.

SB1233, HD1, CD1 requires certain private employers to allow employees to take leaves of absence for organ, bone marrow, or peripheral blood stem cell donation. Provides that unused sick leave, vacation, or paid time off, or unpaid time off, may be used for these leaves of absence. Requires employers to restore an employee returning from leave to the same or equivalent position. Establishes a private right of action for employees seeking enforcement of these provisions. 

HB1539, HD1, SD2, CD1 requires the return of a housing choice voucher to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority upon the death or removal from assistance of the last original household member or upon the youngest minor of the household reaching the age of twenty-one or twenty-three if the minor is a full-time student. Prohibits adding legal guardians to the household unless the legal guardian is also eligible for participation in the program.

SB2542, SD1, HD1, CD1 restores the allocation of conveyance tax collections to the rental housing trust fund to 50 percent beginning July 1, 2014.     

SB2470, SD1, HD1, CD1 establishes the Connector Legislative Oversight Committee and requires the Committee to annually review a report and annual sustainability plan prepared and submitted by the Board of Directors of the Hawaii Health Connector. Permits Connector-certified insurance agents and brokers to enroll individuals and employers in qualified plans through the Connector. Clarifies that the Connector must submit the results of the Connector's annual audit to the Legislature and requires the annual audit to comply with standard accounting practices for reviewing nonprofit corporations. Provides the Connector with the means to generate non-insurer based revenue. Amends the composition and procedures of the Board of directors of the Connector beginning on October 1, 2014. Repeals requirement for the Department of Human Services to determine Medicaid eligibility for purposes of purchasing plans from the Connector. Appropriates $1,500,000 for the operations of the Connector.

HB2581, HD3, SD2, CD1 establishes the State Innovation Waiver Task Force to develop a plan for applying for a state innovation waiver that meets the requirements of federal law. Requires the task force to submit two interim reports and a final report to the Legislature.
SB2866, SD1, HD1, CD1 makes an emergency appropriation of $15,000,000 to support the functions of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

SB651, SD2, HD2, CD1 Prohibits smoking in and around public housing projects and state low-income housing projects under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii public housing authority including in and around elder or elderly households.

HB611, HD1, SD1, CD1 makes it unlawful for tanning facility owners, lessees, and operators to allow use of tanning beds, tanning booths, sun lamps, and certain other tanning equipment by anyone under the age of 18.

HB1714, HD1, SD2, CD1 addresses climate change adaptation by establishing the interagency climate adaptation committee under the DLNR to develop a sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report that addresses sea level rise impacts statewide to 2050. Tasks the office of planning with establishing and implementing strategic climate adaptation plans and policy recommendations using the sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report as a framework for addressing other statewide climate impacts identified under Act 286, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012. Appropriates funds for staffing and resources. MAJORITY PACKAGE

HB1514, HD1, SD2, CD1 establishes a Pesticide Subsidy Program until June 30, 2019, for the purchase of pesticides containing Beauveria bassiana to combat the coffee berry borer.

HB1943, HD2, SD2, CD1 amends the public utilities commission guiding principles regarding the modernization of the electric grid.

HB1951, HD1, SD2, CD1  extends the authorization of the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning, LLC, for the purpose of design and construction of a seawater air conditioning district cooling system in downtown Honolulu, for an additional five years.

SB2953, SD1, HD3, CD1 provides that all royalties from geothermal resources on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands parcels shall be paid to DHHL.

HB1750, HD1, SD1, CD1  expands the offense of violation of privacy in the first degree to include knowingly disclosing an image or video of another identifiable person either in the nude or engaging in sexual conduct without the consent of the depicted person and with intent to harm substantially the depicted person.

SB2729, SD2, HD1, CD1  amends the law prohibiting operation of a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device by adding an exemption for completely stopped drivers that have the engine off and are in a safe location out of the way of traffic, amending the definition of "operate", amending the penalties for violations, and deeming a violation to be a traffic infraction.

SB2591, SD1, SD1, CD1 requires additional detail and updating for annual reports to the Legislature of police misconduct; requires retention of disciplinary records for the later of eighteen months after reporting or the date according to the county police department's record retention policy; permits disclosure under the Uniform Information Practices Act of certain information regarding misconduct by a police officer only in cases that result in the discharge of an officer and if specific factors are met, including the passing of ninety calendar days following the issuance of a decision sustaining the discharge.

HB1926, HD1, SD1, CD1 amends the offense of prostitution to include sadomasochistic abuse under the definition of "sexual conduct" and clarify that a law enforcement officer shall not be exempt from the offense if the law enforcement officer engages in sexual penetration or sadomasochistic abuse while acting in the course and scope of duties. Amends the offense of solicitation of a minor for prostitution. Clarifies sentencing of repeat offenders and enhanced sentences for repeat violent and sexual offenders. Amends the applicability of a deferred acceptance of guilty plea or nolo contendere plea.  

HB2205, HD1, SD1, CD1 imposes a mandatory minimum term of one year imprisonment upon conviction for the offense of habitual property crime. Authorizes probation only for a first conviction of the offense of habitual property crime.

SB2687, SD1, HD2, CD1 extends the time period during which a victim of child sexual abuse may bring an otherwise time-barred civil action against the victim's abuser or an entity with a duty of care, including the State and counties. 

HB2116, HD2, SD1, CD1 eliminates sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.

HB2034, HD2, SD1, CD1 removes the statute of limitations for criminal actions arising from sexual assault in the first and second degrees and continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of fourteen years.

SB2308, SD1, HD1, CD1 makes an appropriation to the Department of Public Safety for programs and services for children of incarcerated parents and to assist with family reunification.

SB702, SD2, HD2, CD1 establishes an Internet Crimes Against Children Fee for each felony or misdemeanor conviction of certain criminal offenses relating to children. Specifies order of priority for collection of fees. Establishes an Internet Crimes Against Children Special Fund. Requires deposit of fees collected into the Special Fund. Appropriates funds.

HB1993, SD2, CD1 requires a police officer to make reasonable inquiry of witnesses and the family or household member upon whom physical abuse or harm is believed to have been inflicted and order a no-contact period of forty-eight hours. Makes the commission of an act of physical abuse in the presence of a family or household member who is a minor under the age of fourteen a class C felony.

SB2315, SD1, HD1, CD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Public Safety to provide substance abuse treatment services to Halawa Correctional Facility inmates.

HB2152, HD1, SD2, CD1 appropriates funds to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems to support administrative and general tasks and strategic program initiatives.
SB2583, SD1, HD1, CD1 appropriates funds for an engineering assessment of a proposal to establish a laser optical communications ground station in Hawaii.

HB1671, HD1, SD1, CD1 increases the current cap on transient accommodations tax revenues to be distributed to the counties for two fiscal years. Establishes a working group to determine future county allocation ceiling amounts and the appropriate division of the provision of public services between the State and counties.      

SB2682, SD1, HD2, CD1 requires the financial disclosure statements of members of certain boards, commissions, and agencies to be made available for public inspection and duplication. Limits information on the source of income of the spouse and dependent children of those whose financial disclosures are public to the name of the income source.

SB2634, SD1, HD2, CD1 specifies that individuals required to file an expenditure statement for lobbying activities must, for expenditures in excess of $750 per statement period, itemize each expenditure in certain categories, as applicable.

HB2590, HD1, SD2, CD1 allows voter registration at absentee polling places beginning in 2016 and late voter registration, including on election day, beginning in 2018. Appropriates funds.   

HB1638, HD2, SD2, CD1 appropriates funds to the judiciary for FY 2014-2015.

HB1700, HD1, SD1, CD1 adjusts appropriations for the fiscal biennium 2013‑2015 operating and capital improvement budgets of executive branch agencies and programs.

HB2051, HD1, SD2, CD1  amends the criteria for the works of art to be commissioned to honor the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and the late U.S. Representative Patsy T. Mink pursuant to Act 281, SLH 2013. Amends the appropriation to $250,000 for fiscal year 2014-2015 only. Makes the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts the expending agency.

Legislature Passes State Budget

The Hawaii State Legislature today voted to approve the State Budget for the upcoming FY2014-2015. The budget, which provides $6.189 billion in general funds and $12.147 billion in all means of financing, was characterized by House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke as measured and prudent.
“As mentioned throughout this session, we’ve had to deal with a changing financial landscape that clearly suggested a more measured and prudent approach to spending, especially when we looked at our long-term obligations,” said Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa), House Finance Chair and one of the budget’s chief architects. “I think we’ve done that while meeting the immediate needs of our people, including taking care of lowest wage earners, our kupuna and our keiki.”
“We’ve also continued to recapitalize our budget reserves with at least $200 million this year, and maintained significant financial contributions toward reducing our unfunded liabilities.”
HB1700 appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the second half of the current biennium, FY2014-2015, including $10 million in Grant-in-Aid (GIA) for nonprofit organizations who provide community services and over $2.3 billion in G.O. bond funding for capital improvement projects (CIP), including monies for the new Kona Judiciary Building and the University of Hawaii at Hilo School of Pharmacy.  
"I think part of the challenges that our finance chairs faced this year was the misconception that we had a huge projected surplus to dole out. And the plain fact is that was just not true, as the State Council on Revenues verified in its last quarterly report,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).
This January, there was an $844 million dollar surplus balance in the state coffers. But in March, the Council on Revenues reduced revenue projections for the current and next fiscal bienniums—amounting to $189.5 million less in FY2013-2014 and $491.8 million less in FY2014-2015.
“Despite flatter than expected projections, I think we were still able to provide for the most pressing needs of families, our schools, our seniors, the environment and our economy,” Souki said. “At the end of the day, we ended on the positive side of the ledger in both expenditures and taking care of our long term obligations.”
Other funding highlights include:
·         Added four environmental health specialist positions and $96,309 for the pesticides branch
·         Added $400,000 in revolving funds for operating and equipment costs for the pesticides branch
Accounting and General Services
·         Added $87,071 for three positions for school repair and maintenance on neighbor islands
Attorney General
·         Added $452,330 for six positions for delinquent tax collection
·         Added $31,568 in general funds for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
Business, Economic Development, and Tourism
·         Added $250,000 for the Beijing and Taipei state offices in strategic marketing and support
·         Added $50,000 for establishing and fostering sister-state relationships
·         Added $100,000 for the Creative Lab Accelerator Program
·         Added $160,000 for aerospace industry development and a commercial spaceport license application
·         $227,200 in federal funds for the Homeland Security Office to coordinate security planning and preparedness activities with all agencies
Charter Schools
·         $134,802 for charter school per-pupil allotment
·         $800,000 in general funds and $2 million in federal funds for the Charter School Commission operating and administration costs
·         $2 million to support school athletic activities
·         $15 million for the weighted student formula, which are funds that are distributed to schools based on enrollment and are spent at the principals’ discretion
·         $3 million in general funds for a pre-kindergarten program, which will be coordinated by the DOE and the Executive Office on Early Learning in the Office of the Governor
·         $1.925 million for the Strive HI performance system, which supports the lowest-performing 15% of schools
·         $600,000 for an educator evaluation system to measure teacher effectiveness
·         $256,000 in general funds to implement a mentoring program for new teachers
·         $200,000 in general funds for a contract with Teach for America
·         $9,000,000 to cover the shortfall in utility costs
·         $592,000 in general funds for sabbatical leave for teachers
Public Libraries
·         $685,000 for electricity budget shortfall in libraries statewide.
·         $200,000 to increase security services at libraries statewide.
·         $600,000 to maintain computers and other technological services offered by Hawaii State Public Libraries System to patrons.
Human Services
·         A total of $8.5 million to increase foster care funding
·         $500,000 for the Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture, and Health Initiative (REACH) program to provide a framework for intermediate school after-school programs
·         $1.5 million to continue the Housing First homeless initiative program
·         $1,183,384 in general funds for the home- and community-based services waiver program administered by the department's Developmental Disabilities Division
·         $750,000 in general funds for statewide health information exchange infrastructure advancement and to support health information technology priorities
·         $2 million for the Hilo Medical Center Primary Care Residency Program
·         $185,000 in special funds for the replacement of motor vehicles at various community mental health centers
Land and Natural Resources
·         $650,000 in special funds for watershed protection
·         $1.3 million in special funds for information management system upgrade in the Public Land Management division
·         $500,000 in special funds for Kauai fire mitigation and reforestation in the Forestry Resources Management and Development division
·         $577,000 in general funds for personal services, operating expenses, and equipment in the Conservation and Resource Enforcement division officers
Public Safety
·         Added ten adult corrections officers, and $259,930 in general funds for 24-hour Halawa Correctional Facility suicide watch posts
·         Added six adult corrections officers, and $155,958 in general funds for 24-hour Oahu Community Correctional Center suicide watch posts
·         Added twenty positions and $786,718 in general funds for mental health services in correctional centers
·         $835,000 in special funds for security services at Honolulu International Airport
·         $6,000,000 in special funds for routine maintenance of the baggage handling and explosives detection system at the Honolulu International Airport and Kahului Airport
·         $4,000,000 in special funds for pavement-marking rehabilitation at eight airports
·         $7,359,000 in special funds to purchase additional Wiki Wiki buses to accommodate international passengers waiting to be transported to the United States Customs and Border Protection at Honolulu International Airport
·         A total of $1.4 million for a state-wide airports safety management program
·         $3,000,000 in special funds to establish a national pollutant discharge elimination system and municipal separate storm water system permit for Maui District
·         $1,500,000 in special funds for Honolulu Harbor and Kalaeloa Harbor to expand the storm drain cleaning and pollution control program on Oahu and another $1,300,000 in special funds for other expenses that may be incurred under the federal Clean Water Act
University of Hawaii
·         $600,000 for a Model Indigenous Serving University to be expended on programs that would help native Hawaiian students succeed in they have not traditionally been successful in
·         A total of $4 million for 89 campus operation and growth positions at the newly constructed University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus
·         A total of $33.5 million to accommodate salary restorations and increases for University of Hawaii faculty members. Includes $14 million in special funds for salary restorations and $19.5 million in general funds for salary increases
·         Increase of the special fund ceiling by nearly $46 million to support UH-Manoa campus operations and programs
·         Addition of 50 positions to support UH community colleges operations
·         $9,350,000 in special funds for various programs in University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine
Capital Improvement Projects
·         Reauthorization of $399,000,000 of general obligation bonds to recapitalize the educational facilities improvement fund
·         Nearly $700 million in total biennium appropriations for the Department of Education to address school improvements, upgrades, and renovations
·         Over $110 million to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation for critical repairs and upgrades to the state hospital system
·         $390 million to address campus facilities and programs at the University of Hawaii, of which includes $100 million for capital renewal and deferred maintenance, and $57 million for health and safety projects for facilities
·         $33 million for the construction of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii-Hilo campus
·         $28.8 million for the construction of the Allied Health and Administration building at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus