HONOLULU– The Hawaii State Legislature has adjourned on this final day of the 2013 Legislative Session. With a spirit of cooperativeness, civility, and compromise exercised by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Finance, the Hawaii State Budget, House Bill (HB) 200, was passed more than one week before the final day of the 2013 session. The budget’s early passage allowed the Senate to carefully assess the needs of Hawaii residents and the direction of Hawaii’s government through bills pending in conference committees.
By providing positions and $18,811,090 in fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014 and $14,358,110 in FY2014-2015 to modernize the state’s information technology (IT) infrastructure, the Senate sought to encourage long-term planning and efficiency efforts to fundamentally change the character and delivery of government services. $130M was appropriated for informational systems in various departments to streamline tax collections, maintain and share critical health information, and to provide for a more secure communication network for the islands. To help protect the state’s information and data, the Senate passed SB 1003, authorizing the Chief Information Officer to conduct security audits to detect and prevent IT intrusions and theft of the public’s personal information. Through passage of HB 632, the Senate seeks to promote more open and transparent government as set out in the State of Hawaii Business and Information Technology/Information Resource Management Plan.
We are attempting to become more efficient in delivering government services through upgrading our antiquated IT infrastructure,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “Through refining a number of policies, government organizations also become more transparent and accountable to the public they serve.”
In addition to improving delivery of government services, the Legislature fulfilled its commitment to start prefunding unfunded liabilities pertaining to other post employment benefits.
The Legislature made appropriations to begin payment to these unfunded health benefit liabilities through HB 200 with $100M for FY14 and $117.4M for FY15.
Currently, the unfunded liabilities for the employer-union health benefits trust fund is $13.6 billion. Paying down these liabilities will have a positive impact on the state’s bond rating and ensure that Hawaii’s future is not handicapped by increasingly burdensome debt. Additionally, HB 546 will make Hawaii the first state in the nation to statutorily require payment of the annual required contribution for future public worker health benefits.
The Senate advanced the “Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative” by passing bills that align government regulations and policies with clean energy goals. SB 19 exempts landlords who install renewable energy systems from the onerous requirements imposed on public utilities and serves as an incentive for landlords to adopt renewable energy systems. SB 120 authorizes the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to establish a policy to incentivize Hawaii’s electric utility companies to make needed reforms that attain lower electricity rates. SB 1087 provides a lower cost financing alternative for Hawaii businesses and residents to utilize green infrastructure equipment and technology to reduce electricity consumption by leveraging clean energy technology. The innovative financing method created in this measure will provide a secure financing structure to allow the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) to issue revenue bonds at very competitive rates and pass these savings on to the consumers in the form of lower borrowing costs.
In an effort to improve food self-reliance and agricultural resiliency, the Senate expanded livestock feed subsidies through SB 593, allocated funds to begin the process of producing clean, healthy and economic alternative fuel, fertilizer and feedstock, and to protect Hawaii’s unique environment ten inspector positions were funded for plant, pest and bio control personnel and programs
Seeking to encourage economic diversity, the Senate passed SB 1349 that reestablishes the income tax credit for qualified research activities to encourage job growth in research and development. This measure contributes to the diversification of the State’s economy by creating and maintaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs in the State. The Senate also passed HB 726 for the film, television, entertainment, digital media, and music production industry in Hawaii by increasing the amount of the Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production income tax credit for qualified production costs incurred by a authorize production company.
The bills we passed lay the groundwork for diversifying our economy by making strategic investments in the agriculture and in the film industries.” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria. “We also looked for opportunities to diversify the job market for the people of Hawaii.”
The bills now go to the Governor for consideration.
For more information on the bills: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/.
Posted by Hawaii Senate Majority Caucus