By State Senator Sam Slom from the Kuliouou NHB #2 Report
The $11.7 billion State Budget (HB 200) looms large on the horizon this year as the 2013 Legislature heads closer to the first major deadlines — first lateral on February 15 and First Crossover on March 7. Several bills have already passed out of their initial committees and now await approval from the “A bracket” committees (Ways & Means, Juidicary & Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection) by the first crossover date.
The Senate passed its first bill to the House, SB 94 which adds an executive director to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority on February 1. Subsequently, 3 more bills passed third reading (SB 54 on aging; SB 44 on mental health; and SB 995 on irrigation water development) votes this week and are now in the House.
HB 26* which crossed over from the House was voted in the Senate Ways & Means committee yesterday. This is the $28.5 million in general funds bill that pays for the operations of the State Legislature that includes the House, Senate and related agencies. The bill is slated for a Senate floor vote on Feb. 8.
On other issues.
University of Hawaii: Problems continue to dog the University of Hawaii system which were addressed through a series of informational briefings focused on salaries and tuition increases. I stated at the tuition briefing that the state’s only public institution of higher learning is pricing students out of school. My office has received several emails and phone calls from U.H. students confirming this fact. Bills addressing issues surrounding the university are being heard in the Senate Higher Education and Ways & Means Committees.
PLDC: The Senate Chair of the Water & Land Committee pulled SB1, a bill that would repeal chapter 171c in the HRS relating to the Public Land Development Corporation. The action has angered the public and several senators. I support the repeal of the PLDC and have introduced two bills this session to deal with that: SB 780 and SB 781.
Taxes: A number of tax bills will be decided in the Senate Ways & Means Committee on Feb. 12. They include SB 350 which amends the filing of GE Tax Returns; SB 653 tax rates on tobacco products including “premium cigars”; SB 948 “streamlined” taxation on internet purchases; SB 1187 - delinquent taxes; and SB 1190 imposition of “use tax” on imported contracting. Several other tax bills are advancing through other committees and in the House including those that will add new taxes to sugary beverages (SB 1085), a 10¢ per plastic bag fee (tax), increases to the conveyance, general excise, tobacco and transient accommodations tax. I oppose all new taxes and increases.
* – HB26 passed third reading in the Senate on 2-8-2013 and now goes to the Governor for his approval.
Legislative aide Noelani Bonafacio comments on the soda tax bill during a taping of Capitol Commentary at Senator Slom’s office.
Senator Slom heard testimony on SB 1135 which the State Board of Health wants to pass that expands the Electronic Device and Television Recycling program. If passed into law, the new regulations will impact the sales of not only consumer electronics but also to household appliances. There is a high fee (tax) structure connected to this that Senator Slom will oppose.
Lonely And Frustrated: The Worst Jobs In Politics
Senator Sam Slom was featured on National Public Radio (npr.org), February 5 in an article written by commentator Alan Greenblat. The article titled “Lonely And Frustrated: These May Be The Worst Jobs In Politics” focused on those legislators and politicians across the country whose jobs “appear from the outside to be so hopeless that you wonder why anyone agreed to take them on.” Senator Slom being the lone Republican in the 25-member Hawaii State Senate was one of the subjects of the article which covered minority representation in the states of Wyoming, Rhode Island, Oklahoma and Hawaii.