Thursday, May 7, 2015

House Adjourns 2015 Regular Session

The House of Representatives adjourn the 2015 regular session, which provided the opportunity for the House, together with the Senate, to pass some landmark legislation over gnarly issues that in one instance go back 15 years.

During the session, the House approved a five-year extension of Oahu’s rail tax surcharge, provided funding to purchase and preserve lands at Turtle Bay, created a mechanism to allow Maui’s public hospitals to pursue public-private partnerships, and provided for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.

“From our transportation infrastructure to healthcare, you took on the challenges, even when there seemed to be little hope for success,” House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu) told state representatives in his closing remarks.

“Building Honolulu’s rail system has been frustrating. The little distance traveled for the price seems high indeed. But the cost for not taking this first step is even higher and future generations will thank you for your far sightedness and courage,” he said.

Souki thanked House members for thinking “outside the box” in resolving Maui hospital’s financial crisis and for working collaboratively with the Administration and Senate on Maui Hospital and a range of other measures.

“Good solutions are always collaborative and identified, not by one person’s signature, but by many fingerprints,” Souki said. “Together with the Governor, we’ve come up with a fair resolution for all concerned, including the people of Maui.”

On finalizing the purchase of North Shore lands for preservation, Souki said:

“You also took steps to complete the job of preserving the lands around Kawela Bay for future generations—a task that seemed daunting a year ago. You not only completed that job but re-fashioned a better deal that looked out for the best interest of the people of Hawaii.

“You also heard the pleas of those who depend on medical marijuana to make it through each day and provided them with legal access to dispensaries throughout the state,” he said referring to the passage of HB321, CD1, which creates a statewide distribution system for medical marijuana and establishes the parameters for individuals and entities to apply to set up the dispensaries.

The Speaker also noted that the Legislature provided more than $28 million in grant-in-aid for nonprofit organizations who reach out to the community with invaluable services and provided over $2.45 billion for a wide range of capital improvement projects, which will continue to support state services and economic growth on all islands.

In addition, he applauded the Legislature’s the fiscal restraint in CIP spending and in addressing the state’s unfunded liabilities.

“As we move further from the last economic recession, it becomes easier to slip into past practices of borrowing from the state’s Rainy Day Fund and the Hurricane Relief Fund, and spend more freely during good times. You not only refrained from that temptation but continued to address the state’s unfunded liabilities in a responsible and prudent manner,” Souki said.

“Together, with the Senate and the Ige administration, we did all this and more. We did it not to make headlines, but to make Hawaii the kind of place we are all proud to call home.”

Full text of Speaker Souki's closing remarks is available here.

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