Hawaii State Legislature kept more than 500 bills alive after the first crossover bill voting deadline passed on Thursday, March 8. The Senate passed 379 bills over to the House while that body passed 286 bills back to the Senate.
The usual cadre of bad bills that call for more taxes, cost, unfunded mandates, special funds, fees and attacks on your personal liberty and freedom continue to thrive.
As a general rule, I have been consistent in voting “no” against all new taxes and fees as well as voting “no” on the creation of new special funds.
Here is a synopsis on some of the bills that were voted for in the Senate on crossover week:
I voted against SB 2787 which will authorize HECO and other utilities to implement a surcharge to help it enforce “reliability standards and interconnection requirements”.
SB 2785 is the bill that authorizes the installation of the inter-island “high voltage electric transmission system” ($3 billion undersea cable) and related infrastructure (windmills). I voted “no”.
SB 2824: This bill applies the bottle recycling tax (6¢ per container) to dietary supplements. I voted “no” on this.
Likewise I also voted “no” on SB 2511, that taxes “single use check-out bags” at a rate that could be as high as 20¢ per bag.
SB 3017: I voted against this bill on applying the transient accommodations tax to complimentary accommodations. This bill expands the TAT and I voted “No!”
SB 2747: This bill mandates owners or managers of public parking places with a hundred parking spaces or more to have electric vehicle parking and at least one electric vehicle charging station. This takes away parking from users of conventional vehicles while still preserving space for ADA accessibility. There are not many electric vehicles. Another bill that merited a “no” vote.
Still another bill that I was poised to vote “no” on was SB 2822 which would have implemented a tax on electronics recycling. Instead the bill was amended so that a task force can look into the issue.
I voted “no” on SB 2226 which would implement a tax on purchases from made on the internet from merchants such as Amazon.com.
In keeping consistent with my “no new taxes” policy, I also voted against a new tax on tobacco products (SB 2422).
I was among six Senators who voted against SB 2592 that creates a children’s savings account under the Dept. of Budget & Finance.
The land trust bill (SB 2783) that conveys properties in Kaka’ako Makai valued at $200 million, over to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) was also passed. I voted “no” on this bill that is supported by OHA as well as the Governor.
SB 2923: Voted against the ban on commercial opihi harvesting after the bill was amended on the floor.
No votes on bills that create new special funds include the following:
SB 2110: Preservation of Hawaii’s moving images (films). A new special fund is being created for this.
SB 2424: A new special fund is created for regulation of professional employer organizations (PEOs).
SB 2111: Establishment of the Hawaii film and digital media special fund.
SB 3050: Another film and digital media bill moves responsibilities of this industry form DBEDT to the Hawaii Tourism Authority and creates a new special fund for development.
SB 2506: In an effort to move the State ID functions from the attorney general’s office to the State Dept. of Transportation, a new special fund is being created to support this. The bill also complies with the nationally mandated Real I.D. Act of 2005.
SB 2348: This bill reinstates the State Educational Facilities Improvement Special Fund which was set to be repealed on July 1, 2013.
SB 2466: Establishes a long-term care facility special fund.
SB 2467: Establishes the Hospital Sustainability Program special fund and a new fee (tax).
Shovel Ready Projects: I voted “with reservations” on SB 2012, a Senate showcase bill that issues $500 million in general obligation bonds to fund repair and maintenance and/or capitol improvements to a number of state facilities. The bill is being met with a lukewarm reception in the House. The state should be doing repair and maintenance as part of its normal routine instead of waiting for such legislation.
Permanent Resident Bill Iced: The Senate recommitted my SB 212, a bill that was resurrected this year to define “permanent resident” for use in the next reapportionment coming in 2021. The bill had unanimous support in the Senate Judiciary & Labor committee but was killed on the senate floor after the chair motioned it back into committee. Some neighbor island legislators oppose counting military populations for reapportionment.
Libraries Bill: I voted “yes” to support the libraries bill (SB 2994) that allows private non-profit organizations to continue to support their local, public library (as they have for years) without being affiliated with the statewide Friends of the Library organization. During the hearing process for the bill, it was found that the head State Librarian failed to answer questions on why local friends had to join the larger group. SB 2994 is yet to be heard in the House Education committee.
For more information on all legislation look items up by bill number at www.capitol.hawaii.gov.
The day before the big crossover vote I meet with my staff and the Senate Minority Research office staff to review each and every bill on the order of the day for bill voting. The staff researches and writes digest on selected bills that we flag for possible questions or no votes the following day.