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Senate Minority’s 2014 legislative package

MEDIA RELEASE

Sen. Sam Slom, the minority leader in state Senate, spoke at a news conference Friday to unveil his 2014 Legislative Package.

Slom indicated the Senate Minority’s primary goal is to give more power to the people of Hawaii.

At the press conference, he said, “The Senate Minority this year, with renewed vigor, has an action plan to empower the people. Only the minority speaks for child safety, overburdened tax payers, our overburdened businesses and the home schooled.”

Slom has introduced Senate bills to provide for Recall, Initiative and Referendum (SB2141 Recall, SB2142 Initiative, SB2143 Referendum). If passed into law, these bills would essentially allow the people of Hawaii to petition to remove their elected officials from office and introduce ballot measures for constitutional amendments and legislation, provided they obtain the minimum amount of signatures on the petition.

Financial Bills

Slom has also introduced a range of financial bills that include providing direct tax relief to all Hawaii taxpayers, as opposed to just a select few.

Senate Minority Budget Director, Paul Harleman, stated the Senate Minority Fiscal Plan bills provide “$500 million in tax relief for working families….” and that it is “…projected to reduce the annual cost of living for Hawaii’s working families by a total of $915 per year.”

Slom stated: “We constantly talk about equality but it does not seem to extend to financial equality for our citizens, including over taxation and the glaring example of a Hawaii taxpayer being worth one third the IRS personal exemption.”

Slom has introduced a bill that increases the Hawaii personal exemption, currently $1144, to equal the federal personal exemption amount of $3950. In the early 1980s, the federal exemption was the same as Hawaii’s. Hawaii’s personal taxation exemption has not kept pace. This bill will provide an average direct savings of $465 to each family filing their returns. Personal taxation exemption increase SB3080.

Slom has also proposed that 50% of government surpluses be given back to the people through tax refunds or tax credits. Tax credit/refund SB3071.

Slom’s other financial bills include:

· SB2153 – Requiring the Hawaii tax department to report their expenditures prior to the start of the session

· SB2159 – Requiring all legislators to report their gifts and financial interests prior to the start of the session

· SB2161 – Deregulating HECO to allow for competition in the marketplace

· SB2167 – Excluding Hawaii residents who are active duty military from Hawaii taxation while stationed outside of Hawaii

· SB2169 – Exempting food and medical services from the general excise tax (GET)

· SB2170 – Exempting Hawaii residents from the transient accommodation tax (TAT)

· SB2171 – Exempting goods that are traded from business to business and then consumed by the business and not resold to consumers

· SB2767 – Repeal of corporate income tax laws in Hawaii

· SB2963 – Repeal of the inheritance and state tax laws

Bill to deregulate HECO

SB2161 provides for the deregulation of HECO. Slom said:
“In the area of consumer choices the glaring example is Hawaii’s leading electric monopoly that continues to increase the cost of energy to individuals and businesses at a rate 3 times the national average. We can, and must, deregulate this utility in order to provide choices and savings for our consumers.”

Tisha Panter, Senate Minority Research Director, pointed out “the current cost of electricity in Hawaii is almost 38 cents per kilowatt. …this is more than 20 cents more than Alaska and more than three times the cost of electricity on the mainland.”

In 2003, the cost of electricity in Hawaii was 16.59 cents while Alaska was 12.75 cents. She stated “It is time to allow for competition.”

Bills for education

Slom has introduced SB2165 which, if passed, will allow Hawaii homeschoolers to participate in the extracurricular activities of their local schools. The other bill related to education that has been introduced is SB2131.

This bill allows parents to take the money allocated in the government public school system for their child, select any school in the state and apply the monies there, instead of forcing parents to put their child in the school located in their district.

Dr. Kimberly Kepner-Sybounmy, a teacher of more than 10 years, stated at the press conference: “We (the Senate Minority) are concerned with returning power of personal decision making on educational issues to the parents. Thus, the bills introduced in by the minority office champion homeschool families and their opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities at public schools. Second, we believe parents and students deserve the opportunity to choose the educational setting that is best for their children.”

Bills to protect the keiki

“As for our children’s safety, we are always talking about what we do for our keiki, but in fact, we have a terribly embarrassing record of neglect and not protecting our children against human trafficking and sexual assault. Our specific recommendations would go far to change this” Slom said.

Other bills from Slom include:

· SB2318 – A bill to deny visitation and custody, as well as the termination parental rights if a child is born to a perpetrator as a result of incest

· SB2155 – This bill tidies up the First Degree Sexual Assault offense by only allowing the penetration of children for valid medical procedures by medical professionals

· SB2765 – Jessica’s Law. This law would deny parole for those convicted of sexual assault of a child

Bill for the care of our elderly citizens

SB2765 ensures that elderly citizens are given attention when they are missing. Piggy backing on the MAILE AMBER Alert system, if the police have reasonable suspicion that an elderly person is missing because of a loss of mental capacity, they can trigger an Silver Alert to help locate the person.

New age scams and intimidation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reported an increase in the number of scam lien filings to intimidate public officials, police, and general citizens. In addition, individuals have fraudulently removed their mortgage records from the title of their property in order to sell that property and escape with the proceeds.

Slom recognizes that it is an almost impossible task to recover the cash once the person is out of state or out of the country. Therefore, he proposes new laws that would make the filing of these fraudulent statements an offense, and change to the Uniform Commercial Code to allow the Lieutenant Governor to remove or reinstate a lien upon sworn statement of need, without the need to go to court. Court actions to remove an invalid or fraudulent lien can costs tens of thousands of dollars and can take up to two years. SB2148 and SB2149.

Revenge porn

There is significant concern across the country about individuals who engage in “Revenge Porn.” Revenge Porn occurs when parties who share intimacy and consent to exchange intimate photos and recordings eventually split. One party may seek revenge by publicly posting the photos. The recent age of electronic communications provides few chances of recovering all copies of the photos and recordings.

Therefore, there should be a significant penalty as a result of posting these photos or recordings. People have lost jobs, livelihood and third party relationships because of these postings.

To summarize

Slom: The clarion call since last November’s special session was “Let the people decide.” To date we haven’t addressed that but today the Senate Minority will detail, clarify and expend its platform and action plan for 2014 to, in fact, let the people decide. Our specific package is to empower the public, provide consumer choices, child safety, fiscal equality, government transparency, and educational reform.”

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