Categorized | Government, News

Senate introduces more than 1,000 bills

MEDIA RELEASE

The state Senate has introduced 1,127 Senate bills on this second year of the 27th Legislature. The deadline for bill introductions was Thursday, Jan. 23.

The measures are now being sent to their respective committees for consideration.

The Hawaii Senate and House Majorities recently 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. Lawmakers are focusing their combined efforts on supporting seniors and protecting the environment.

Lawmakers have five weeks before First Decking deadline on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. The wide array of bills under consideration include everything from combating invasive species to looking at changes in minimum wage.

For more information on bills and on the Legislature, go to www.capitol.hawaii.gov/

Measures to improve HCDA management and oversight

Rep. Scott Saiki (McCully, Kaheka, Kakaako, Downtown) has introduced bills aimed at improving management, legislative oversight and public participation of the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA).

HCDA was established in 1976 by the State Legislature to plan future developments of underutilized urban areas in Hawaii, and designated Kakaako as the Authority’s first Community Development District.

“When the Legislature identified Kakaako as a Community Development District, it saw great potential for revitalizing Honolulu’s urban core,” Saiki said. “That included not only an opportunity to provide more commercial and industrial space, but also for more housing, parks and open space. The idea was to create a community that was more livable, as well as more productive, that reflected our island lifestyle and sensibilities. Kakaako was intended to be a mixed-use area and should be developed appropriately.”

“It’s important that the Legislature ensures that HCDA be responsive to the Legislature and the general public.”

The proposed measures include:

HB 1864, relating to the HCDA

Repeals the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

HB 1865, relating to a one-year moratorium on HCDA approval for any Kakaako development

Imposes a one-year moratorium on the Hawaii Community Development Authority’s approval of any plans or proposals for development in the Kakaako Community Development District. Effective July 1, 2014 and repealed June 30, 2015.

HB 1863, relating to HCDA’s rules, operating budget, building standards and citizen suites

Eliminates the operating budget for the HCDA for FY 2014-2015. Requires a minimum horizontal separation of 300 feet between each building in the Kakaako community development district that is more than 100 feet in height. Establishes a maximum floor area ratio of 1.5 for any building in the Kakaako community development district. Authorizes citizen suits against the HCDA for violations of its required duties. Requires rules established by the HCDA to comply with all laws, ordinances and rules.

HB 1866, relating to legislative oversight of and appointments to HCDA

Amends the manner in which members are appointed to the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Enhances legislative oversight of the Authority.

HB1860, relating to HCDA’s public notice requirements

Amends HCDA’s public notice requirements and requirements for project approval, and creates an administrative appeal process with available judicial review for HCDA decisions and actions.

HB 1861, relating to HCDA’s approval of development projects

Amends procedures to require additional public notice and public input for development projects and rule changes. Establishes additional requirements for development projects before HCDA approval can be granted. Creates an appeal process for HCDA actions and decisions.

HB 1862, relating to HCDA’s affordable housing requirement

Requires HCDA to implement affordable-housing policies that are in greater conformity with those of the City and County of Honolulu, effective July 1, 2014.

HB 1867, relating to the Kakaako community development district

Amends Hawaii Community Development Authority statute to establish building restrictions and prohibitions.

Public hearings on these bills are expected to begin in early February.

Bill to lengthen public school year

State Sen. David Ige (16th senatorial district) has introduced SB 2922, a bill that would lengthen the school year for all public schools in the state beginning with the 2015 school year calendar.

If passed, the bill would lengthen the current school year from 180 instructional days to 190 instructional days.

The bill also discontinues the requirements for the minimum number of student instructional hours effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

“The legislature is committed to improving our public education system and investing in our youth,” Ige said. “It is my hope that a focus on increasing the number of instructional days will provide more flexibility on the school level than the current law allows. I believe that lengthening the instructional days will assist to increase the performance of students in the classroom.”

If passed, the bill shall take effect July 14, 2014.

Bill to protect retirement benefits from taxation

Sen. David Ige (16th senatorial district) has introduced SB 2982, a measure that purposes a constitutional amendment to exclude certain retirement benefits from income taxation.

If passed, the question posed to voters and printed on ballots would be as follows: “Shall retirement benefits be excluded from state income taxation if the beneficiaries’ contributions were subject to state income taxation?”

“Over the last several years, we’ve seen how pensions have become the target of tax increases and means of increasing revenue,” Ige said. “This measure would assure that future legislatures do not consider taxing pensions, and help to protect the retiree’s in our communities and those living on a fixed income.”

Bill restores resources for school athletic programs

Sen. David Ige (D-16 Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, Aiea, Royal Summit, Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, has introduced Senate Bill 3083, which, if passed, would make an appropriation to restore resources to the athletic programs in public schools throughout the state.

The measure would also increase the positions authorized for school athletics and allow the Department of Education to create, fill and fund full-time equivalent, permanent, or temporary positions for fiscal year 2014-2015 for its athletic programs.

SB3083 is also supported by Sen.Michelle Kidani (D-18 Mililani Town, portion of Waipio Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia), vice chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Jill Tokuda (D-24 Kaneohe, Kaneohe MCAB, Kailua, Heeia, Ahuimanu), chairwoman of the Education Committee.

“During the time of the ‘Great Recession,’ the athletic programs at public schools have borne much of the brunt of the budget cuts made in education. This measure will help to provide additional resources to assure the development and safety of our high school athletes,” said Ige.

“For many students in our public schools, the opportunity to play sports motivates and positively impacts their success in the classroom,” he said. “In recognizing the positive influence coaches and athletics can have on our students, this measure helps illustrate the investment we are making in our students to help them succeed in both the classroom and on the playing field.”

SB3083 is scheduled to be heard 1:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10 by the Senate Education Committee.

Those wishing to submit testimony or to sign up to provide testimony via teleconferencing can do so by visiting www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Bills to protect, strengthen law enforcement

Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, introduced six bills related to law enforcement that address several concerns of public safety around the state.

“These bills will improve and strengthen our law enforcement at the county and state level,” said Espero (D, Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of Ewa Villages). “The bills are good for law enforcement officers and for the general public as a whole.”

One of the bills, SB2590, prompted by the Christopher Deedy trial, in which the defendant, a federal agent, was charged with murder after shooting a man at a fast-food restaurant after a night of bar-hopping, seeks to prohibit all county and state law enforcement officers from the consumption of alcohol while carrying a firearm. (On Aug. 26, 2013, a Honolulu judge declared a mistrial as the jury was unable to reach a verdict.)

“We expect the best from those who serve and protect, and we hold them to the highest standards,” said Espero. “This bill helps to ensure the safety of both civilians and law enforcement in the state.”

“On another issue of firearms, I’ve introduced a bill that would establish an online firearms registration process to streamline the process for owners and officials,” he added, “One of the biggest complaints about government is inefficiency. With this measure, everyone will save time and money.”

IMPROVING AND STRENGTHENING LAW ENFORCEMENT

SB2937 Relating to a Law Enforcement Standards Board

Establishes a statewide law enforcement standards board for the licensing and certification of county police officers, state public safety officers, and employees of the departments of transportation and land and natural resources with police powers. Establishes a special fund. Appropriates funds. Hawaii is only state in the nation without any state-level regulation of police.

SB2591 Relating to Law Enforcement

Requires the chief of each county police department to submit an annual report to the legislature of misconduct incidents that resulted in suspension or discharge of a police officer from the calendar year immediately prior to the year of the report submission. Requires the county police departments to provide updated information in each successive annual report until the highest non-judicial grievance adjustment procedure has concluded. Requires the county police departments to retain the disciplinary records in accordance with its record retention policy or for at least six months, whichever period is longer.

SB2589 Relating to Law Enforcement

Transfers the law enforcement functions of the harbors division of the department of transportation to the department of public safety, effective July 1, 2016.

SB2938 Relating to Firearms Registration

Requires each county to establish an online firearms registration process to be fully implemented by July 1, 2015.

SB2590 Relating to Firearms

Prohibits state and county law enforcement officers who are authorized to carry firearms from consuming alcohol or ingesting prescription medications that would impair the judgment or physical response of the employee while carrying a firearm. Prohibits the consumption of alcohol for an unspecified number of hours prior to carrying a firearm.

SB2588 Relating to Unsworn Falsification to a Law Enforcement Officer

Creates the offense of unsworn falsification to a law enforcement officer and a penalty of not less than a misdemeanor.

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