HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Our communities, environment, sustainability and public safety are areas of which the Hawai‘i State Senate will focus in the 29th Legislative Biennium.

The areas are incorporated under four over-arching themes that embrace Hawaiian values and collectively form the Legislative Program the Hawai‘i State Senate will use as a guide throughout the Regular Session of 2017.

“On many of these issues, we’re continuing the work that had begun in the previous legislative sessions,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “We recognize the importance to be self-reliant and take care of our island home. There’s also a responsibility to be prepared for the future, ensuring that the next generation is not saddled with problems we can do our best to address right now.”

The 2017 Legislative Program for the Hawai‘i State Senate is as follows:

Ola Lehulehu – People and Communities

• Education – We will collaborate with educational leaders and interested stakeholders to identify and focus on priority educational needs and opportunities. We will strive to produce workforce-ready graduates to provide opportunities to cultivate and diversify the workforce and economy of Hawai‘i.

• Affordability – We acknowledge Hawai‘i's extremely high cost of living and the financial stress this places on many individuals and families. We will therefore explore options to increase affordability for residents, including avenues to better support low-income wage earners in Hawai‘i.

• Social Services – We will support the State's core functions, including strengthening our social safety net to ensure our keiki, kūpuna, families, and individuals are protected. We will also continue to support the creative coordination of social service and educational strategies that address the multi-faceted nature of homelessness.

• Health Care – We will support collaborative efforts to ensure that funding for Native Hawaiian health care continues. We will further support Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by focusing on essential social and cultural determinants that improve health outcomes amongst our indigenous population. We will also encourage options to improve health care for our keiki and our residents in rural areas and will support collaborative efforts to provide better dental care for keiki and adults throughout our communities.

• Food Security – We will further explore opportunities and policies that support our local farmers, encourage good agricultural practices, and increase our local food production. Efforts that support food self-sufficiency will have positive effects on our local job market and economy.

Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu - Preparedness

• Community Development – We will work diligently to understand and promote smart community development, in particular transit-oriented development. We recognize transit-oriented development as a unique opportunity to address many socio-economic challenges. Because land along public transportation corridors presents an opportunity for the State to maximize land development, we support collaboration with interested stakeholders, including private businesses and non-profit organizations. We are also committed to supporting affordable housing and necessary infrastructure to strengthen our community.

• Government Services – We will focus on improving the efficiency and modernization of government services, including election participation. We will continue to encourage the enhancement of the State's information technology systems and incentivize the use of technology. We will also support efforts to advance innovation-oriented projects that improve living standards in Hawai‘i, while streamlining resources to most efficiently and effectively promote innovation and economic growth.

• Financial Analysis – The Hawai‘i State Senate is committed to analyzing tax credit cost information provided by state agencies; assessing the viability of existing tax credits, exemptions, and exclusions; and determining whether each tax credit, exemption, or exclusion continues to be useful and beneficial to the State.

Aloha Honua - Climate Change and Energy

• Environment – We will protect and preserve Hawai‘i's natural resources by exploring ways to improve agricultural practices and mitigate climate change impacts. We are committed to supporting the preservation of Hawai‘i's unique geographical features, including coastlines and watersheds. In addition to supporting existing conservation and enforcement efforts, we will encourage the use of innovative technologies to combat invasive species, address biosecurity risks, conserve the State's water resources, address changing sea levels, and protect the State's fragile marine ecosystem.

• Sustainability – We will continue our commitment to renewable energy alternatives that are practical and economical for the State and take into account Hawai‘i's natural environment and terrain. With recent progress and clean energy goals in mind, we will further encourage the availability of renewable energy and advance projects to improve energy efficiencies.

Pono Kaulike - Transforming Justice

• Rehabilitation – We will explore alternatives to incarceration and options to reduce the recidivism rate amongst our incarcerated population, through means such as strengthening community ties. We will support efforts that enable incarcerated individuals to develop useable skills that will help in their transition back into their communities.

• Public Safety – In an effort to promote continued public safety, we will encourage effectiveness, transparency, and interagency collaboration, and insist on higher standards of conduct and appropriate training.

It is the Hawai‘i State Senate's sincere hope that we can work collaboratively with the House of Representatives, the Governor, and the Judiciary to achieve all the goals outlined in this Program.

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HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Senators Sen. Will Espero and Josh Green opened their first meeting as co-chairs of the Housing and Homeless Task Force today at the State Capitol. Tackling the complex problem of homelessness in Hawai‘i will be one of the important issues they will address in the upcoming legislative session. Sen. Espero (Dist. 19 - ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages) is the Chair of the Senate Housing Committee and Sen. Green (Dist. 3 - Kona, Ka‘u) is the chair of the Committee on Human Services.

During the meeting, agencies from the city and State provided updates on the various ways homelessness is being combated as Hawaii struggles with the highest number of homeless people per capita in the country.

“It’s a problem that is solvable and hopefully with your two new chairs, we’re going to make some significant progress because that’s what we’re all here for and we’re not here to let anybody down,” said Sen. Espero. “We think we can make a dent in the problem, with your help of course.”

Sen. Green told the packed room that he was appreciative that people came out to offer their different perspectives on the issue. Green said homelessness is a priority issue for him this year and plans to propose doubling the state’s $38 million budget for addressing mental illness and drug addiction, which he says often accompany homelessness.

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – The Hawai‘i State Senate today confirmed the Senate Standing Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs for the 29th Legislature.

“These committee assignments reflect the best use of the broad experience and expertise our Senators bring to this legislative body,” said Senate President, Ronald D. Kouchi. “We’re looking forward to a synergetic and productive session.”

Senate Leaders, Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs are as follows:

Senate Leadership

President: Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi

Vice President: Sen. Michelle N. Kidani

Majority Leader: Sen. J. Kalani English

Majority Caucus Leader: Sen. Brickwood Galuteria

Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Will Espero

Majority Whip: Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz

Assistant Majority Whip: Sen. Brian T. Taniguchi

Agriculture and Environment (AEN)

Chair: Sen. Mike Gabbard

Vice Chair: Sen. Gil Riviere

Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health (CPH)

Chair: Sen. Rosalyn H. Baker

Vice Chair: Sen. Clarence K. Nishihara

Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology (ETT)

Chair: Sen. Glenn Wakai

Vice Chair: Sen. Brian T. Taniguchi

Education (EDU)

Chair: Sen. Michelle N. Kidani

Vice Chair: Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele

Government Operations (GVO)

Chair: Sen. Donna Mercado Kim

Vice Chair: Sen. Russell E. Ruderman

Hawaiian Affairs (HWN)

Chair: Sen. Maile S.L. Shimabukuro

Vice Chair: Sen. Brickwood Galuteria

Higher Education (HRE)

Chair: Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele

Vice Chair: Sen. Michelle N. Kidani

Housing (HOU)

Chair: Sen. Will Espero

Vice Chair: Sen. Breene Harimoto

Human Services (HMS)

Chair: Sen. Josh Green

Vice Chair: Sen. Stanley Chang

International Affairs and the Arts (IAA)

Chair: Sen. Brian T. Taniguchi

Vice Chair: Sen. J. Kalani English

Judiciary and Labor (JDL)

Chair: Sen. Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran

Vice Chair: Sen. Karl Rhoads

Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs (PSM)

Chair: Sen. Clarence K. Nishihara

Vice Chair: Sen. Glenn Wakai

Transportation and Energy (TRE)

Chair: Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye

Vice Chair: Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz

Water and Land (WTL)

Chair: Sen. Karl Rhoads

Vice Chair: Sen. Mike Gabbard

Ways and Means (WAM)

Chair: Sen. Jill N. Tokuda

Vice Chair: Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz

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