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    The Hawaiʻi State Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism and Committee on Water and Land will hold a public hearing to consider Senate Bill 3381 Proposed Senate Draft 1, Relating to Lahaina, on Wednesday, February 14, 2024, at 9:30am, at the State Capitol and via videoconference. Senate Bill 3381 Proposed Senate Draft 1 would create the Lele Community District to be governed by a nine-person Community District Board with the powers necessary to facilitate the planning and rebuilding of the Lahaina moku. The Lele Community District Board would be compromised of nine-members who are residents of Lahaina and would have the power and kuleana for the creation of land use rules, the acquisition and sale of real and improved property, and the creation of a community plan or master plan. Under the Proposed Draft, the nine residents who make up the Board will initially be selected by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, with the positions then being elected by fellow Lahaina residents beginning with and following the 2026 election. The hearing notice for the public hearing can be viewed here. Senate Bill 3381 Proposed Senate Draft 1 can be viewed here. A livestream of the hearing can be viewed on the Senate YouTube channel here.


    Today, Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (District 1 – Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo), issued the following statement thanking Governor Josh Green for releasing $90,000 in capital improvement project funds to finance the design and survey for hydrant and water service lines for the new Hilo Community Medical Center: "I'd like to thank Governor Green for releasing funding to finance the design and survey for hydrant and water service lines for the new Hilo Community Medical Center Building Extension. Reliable water infrastructure is a vital component to a well-functioning hospital. I hope the Governor continues to support the development of the new Hilo Community Medical Center Building Extension. As the Hawaiʻi Island population ages, it is imperative that our healthcare infrastructure stays up-to-date. Projects such as the new Hilo Community Medical Center Building Extension signal to the community that the State is determined to meet Hawaiʻi Island's  healthcare needs." ###


    Today, the Hawaiʻi State Senate Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) released a report detailing its site visit to Hawaiʻi Island in November 2023. Every two years, WAM conducts site visits to each county to break barriers and facilitate collaboration between government and non-governmental organizations, highlighting the benefits of partnerships with Federal, County, non-profit service providers, and community stakeholders. From Tuesday, November 7, to Thursday, November 9, 2023, WAM visited Hawaiʻi Island to meet with various government agencies and community leaders to receive updates on critical projects and initiatives relating to workforce development, healthcare and housing, and regional economic development. During this trip, the Committee received feedback and information to guide decision-making on legislation and budget appropriations from stakeholders from across the county. With a full-agenda over three days, WAM visited Hilo, Pāhoa, Keaʻau, Kamuela, Kapaʻau, Kealakekua, Holualoa and Kailua-Kona, and considered topics including geothermal and renewable energy; aerospace and engineering; invasive species and agriculture; creative media and the film industry; Native Hawaiian self-determination and economic success; workforce development for health care and early learning jobs; homelessness; and healthcare in rural areas. "As a Committee, it is necessary that we go beyond the boundaries of our offices and Oʻahu,  and immerse ourselves in the heartbeat of Neighbor Islands," said Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. "By listening to the stories and witnessing the challenges facing Neighbor Islands firsthand, we are better able to grasp the nuanced needs of each community. These visits allow us to foster genuine understanding and craft solutions that resonate with the unique fabric of every corner of our State." "The Ways and Means Committee has a statewide purview, and our neighbor island site visits provide opportunities for the members to understand the needs and resources across our State," Senator Dela Cruz continued. "The template of regional economic development can be applied statewide but be tailored to the individual strengths and features of our State with the right partnerships. We must invest in our State now or we risk losing future economic opportunities and prosperity for our keiki."


    Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Today, the Kūpuna Caucus of the Hawaiʻi State Legislature were joined by the Department of Health and community advocates to announce the 2024 Kūpuna Caucus Bill Package, which includes five bills that the Caucus strongly supports and seeks passage which are dedicated to improving the health, well-being, and quality of life for Hawaiʻi’s seniors. The Kūpuna Caucus is unique from other legislative caucuses as its members include legislators as well as government and community members. The Bill Package was based on votes of over one hundred members on thirty bill proposals submitted by its members. “The Kūpuna Caucus Package of bills endorsed by over one hundred members supports our elders in enjoying their lives in the community and sustaining their independence as long as possible,” said Senator Sharon Moriwaki, co-convener of the Kūpuna Caucus. "The Bill Package presented here today represents the collaboration and work of the Kūpuna Caucus - including input and participation from the legislature, state and county agencies, and a wide range of community partners," said Representative Cory Chun, co-convener of the Kūpuna Caucus. "I look forward to working with caucus members and supporters this legislative session on these measures to increase the quality of life for all our kūpuna and their families.” The Kūpuna Caucus 2024 Bill Package includes the following bills: Senate Bill 2470 - House Bill 1771 RELATING TO THE HAWAI'I HEALTH AGING PARTNERSHIP. Appropriates funds to the Executive Office on Aging of the Department of Health for the Hawaii Healthy Aging Partnership. Declares that the general fund expenditure ceiling is exceeded. Senate Bill 2471 - House Bill 1772 RELATING TO FALL PREVENTION. Appropriates funds to support the Department of Health's Senior Fall Prevention Campaign. Declares the general fund expenditure ceiling is exceeded. Senate Bill 2472 – House Bill 1770 RELATING TO SOCIAL SERVICES. Increases the monthly needs allowance from $50 to $75. Clarifies that the needs allowance is not intended to replace or affect funds received from the federal supplemental security income program. Requires certain long-term care facility operators to pay for generic toiletries, linens, and meals and snacks. Requires the department of human services to perform an annual review of the needs allowance. Declares that the general fund expenditure ceiling is exceeded. Appropriates funds. Senate Bill 2473 - House Bill 1769 RELATING TO TAXATION. Establishes a refundable tax credit for nonpaid family caregivers. Requires the Department of Taxation to report to the Legislature before the convening of each Regular Session. Senate Bill 2474 – House Bill 1768 RELATING TO FAMILY LEAVE. Requires the department of labor and industrial relations to establish and administer a family leave insurance program. Provides family leave insurance benefits and extends the period of family leave to 16 weeks for businesses that employ one or more employees who meet the hourly qualifications. Eliminates the previous threshold of 100 employees for employers to be subject to the family leave law. Appropriates funds. Photos from this event can be viewed here


    At its meeting on January 26, 2024, the Board of Land and Natural Resources will consider enforcement action against the owners of the vessel Nakoa, which, in February 2023, damaged and destroyed 119 specimens of stony coral and 1640.5 square meters of live rock when it grounded outside the Honolua-Mokulēʻia Bay Marine Life Conservation District. State Senator Angus L.K. McKelvey (District 6, West Maui, Māʻalaea, Waikapū, South Maui) submitted testimony to the Board offering his full support for the Board to impose the maximum penalty under the law against Nakoa’s owners for the devastating damage caused to the reef at Honolua Bay. As the Senator for the area encompassing Honolua Bay, McKelvey testified that he is “dedicated to advocating for the protection and preservation of Hawaii's natural resources and is compelled to express his concern and assert the need for appropriate consequences for such actions.” According to McKelvey, various sources have provided detailed accounts of the incident, documenting the severity of the damage inflicted upon the reef ecosystem at Honolua Bay, and that “the reef, a vital habitat for numerous marine species and a popular destination for divers and snorkelers, has suffered irreparable harm due to the actions of the Nakoa's owners.” In his testimony to the Board, McKelvey stressed that “aquatic life has been disrupted, fragile coral formations have been decimated, and the ecological balance of the reef has been severely compromised. Furthermore, the destruction of this natural treasure has had a significant impact on the local community, which relies on cultural and recreational activities centered around Honolua Bay.” “It is crucial to recognize that the imposition of the maximum penalty allowed by law for such offenses serves as an essential deterrent to prevent future incidents and protect Hawaii's natural assets,” said Senator McKelvey. “The severity of this incident warrants a strong response from the Board, demonstrating our commitment to safeguarding our coastal ecosystem and sending a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated. ” “I firmly believe that the owners of the vessel Nakoa must be held accountable for their actions and be subjected to the fullest extent of the law,” Senator McKelvey emphasized. “I stand with the community and urge the Board to take all necessary measures to ensure that justice is served and the maximum penalty is imposed in this case.”


    On January 24, members of the bipartisan Hawaiʻi Women's Legislative Caucus (WLC) led a panel discussion in collaboration with the YWCA of Oʻahu to present their 2024 legislative package as part of their continuous work to improve the lives of Hawaiʻi's women, children, and families. "The Women's Legislative Caucus' efforts continue to be centered on supporting women and girls in our State," said Representative Linda Ichiyama. "This includes growing our childcare workforce, ensuring the protection of women in the legal system, and safeguarding access to reproductive health care. I am grateful to our partners in the community who have helped pave the way and shine a light on the issues our caucus will focus on in this session." The package includes the following five bills and two resolutions: SB2603/HB1964: Relating to Early Child Care - Requires the Department of Human Services to establish and implement a child care provider subsidy and bonus program to provide subsidies to retain the existing child care workforce in licensed infant and toddler child care centers and group child care centers and bonuses to registered family care homes. SB2604/HB1965: Relating to Abusive Litigation - Establishes a court's authority to issue an order restricting abusive litigation. Perpetrators sometimes abuse the court system to further harass and control their victim. This bill would allow the court to limit abusive litigation. SB2605/HB1966: Relating to Health Care -  Requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide health insurance coverage for various sexual and reproductive health care services. SB2602/HB1967: Relating to the Human Trafficking Victim Services Fund - Changes the administration of the human trafficking victim services fund from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to the Department of the Attorney General. SB2601/HB1968: Relating to Sexual Abuse of Minors - Expands the time period by which a civil action for childhood sexual abuse may be initiated. Authorizes a court to require personnel of legal entities to undergo training on trauma-informed response. HCR5/HR1: Urging retail stores and pharmacies doing business in the state to adopt a policy on a national and local level guaranteeing an individual's unhindered access to all United States Food and Drug Administration-Approved contraceptives. HCR6: Urging the members of Hawaiʻi's congressional delegation to monitor the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration and take action to limit the case from further restricting access to safe abortion options. "As a co-convener for the Women’s Legislative Caucus, I truly appreciate the bipartisan approach of our members to many crucial issues facing our state," said Representative Lauren Matsumoto. "Our 2024 bill package addresses a wide range of issues from combating human trafficking to improvements in child care, which are critical for the future wellbeing of our state." This year, WLC dedicates its legislative package to Nanci Kreidman, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic Violence Action Center. Kreidman, who co-founded the organization 33 years ago, retired in 2023. “The Women’s Legislative Caucus exists to give a voice specifically to women and children,” said Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani. “Issues like childcare, abuse, human trafficking, and healthcare access remain ever relevant and at the forefront of our work in the Legislature. I’d like to express my gratitude to community leaders like Nanci who have made incredible strides in advocating for others.” “Nanci has been an extraordinary example for all of us and personifies what is means to be a woman helping and supporting women.  She is passionate, thoughtful, and always engages with the highest intentions towards peace,” said Senator Lynn DeCoite. “We have all benefited from her work developing and growing Domestic Violence Action Center over the past 34 years and are truly thankful for all of the work she has done for women, children, and families across our state. The Hawaiʻi Women’s Legislative Caucus co-conveners for 2024 are Senators Michelle Kidani (D-18, Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Crestview, Waikele, portion of Waipahu, Village Park, Royal Kunia) and Lynn DeCoite (D-7, Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe and Molokini), and Representatives Linda Ichiyama (D-31, Salt Lake, Āliamanu, Makalapa, Pearl Harbor) and Lauren Matsumoto (D-38, Portions of Mililani and Waipio Acres, Mililani Mauka). In the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, there are 21 women Representatives among the 51 members, and 8 women Senators among the 25 members. See the entire 2024 Women's Legislative Caucus Package here.


    Hilo, Hawaiʻi – Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (District 1 – Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo) issued the following statement thanking Governor Josh Green for releasing $3,200,000 in capital improvement project funds for design and construction for improvements at Wailoa Small Boat Harbor in Hilo: “I’d like to thank Governor Green for releasing funds for the design and construction for improvements at Wailoa Small Boat Harbor,” said Senator Inouye. “The Wailoa Small Boat Harbor has been in desperate need of repair, especially in recent years. I am delighted that repairs will be completed for the bulkhead fender and the boat ramp loading dock, as well as dredging for the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor. These repairs will improve the general use of the harbor for all users, including boaters, fishers, and recreational users. The Wailoa Small Boat Harbor is critically important to the Hilo community.”


    On November 6, 2023, Senate Majority Leader Dru Mamo Kanuha (District 3 - Kona, Kaʻū, and Volcano) hosted a Senate Majority Retreat to identify and discuss legislative priorities that aim to improve the quality of life for all residents in Hawai‘i. With the Thirty-Second Legislature set to convene on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, the Hawaiʻi Senate Majority is focused on addressing a range of issues in the upcoming Legislative Session, with a key focus on supporting ongoing disaster recovery efforts following the devastating Maui wildfires. The following priorities will be the primary areas of focus for the Senate Majority during the 2024 Legislative Session: Emergency Preparedness, Recovery, and Resiliency In response to the Maui wildfires and other recent disasters, the Senate is committed to improving the State’s emergency preparedness, recovery, and resilience by ensuring departments and agencies have access to education and resources, including personnel necessary to prepare for and mitigate damage; supporting ongoing Lahaina relief efforts, including examining insurance delivery, increasing insurance premiums, and fire sprinkler requirements; developing a statewide wildfire mitigation plan and fire risk assessment; funding the Division of Forestry and Wildlife; establishing programs to better prepare the electrical grid and other critical infrastructure for emergencies; revisiting the authority of the Commission on Water Resource Management; forming a fire risk task force; and seeking permanent funding for the Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization. Other areas of interest include establishing a local community land trust in West Maui, with a structure to provide control to the community; re-establishing a Chief Fire Marshall; supporting disaster-impacted artists; and exploring captive insurance for the State. Workforce Development and Education The Senate is committed to addressing challenges with and enhancing workforce development in the State. In 2024, the Senate intends to conduct a comprehensive review of minimum qualifications and equivalencies to fill vacant State positions; pursue workforce development targeting growth in blue collar jobs such as commercial driver license (CDL) drivers and alternative energy jobs; review career and technical education pathways; and support workforce pipeline certification programs with shortages, especially for Neighbor Islands and other underserved areas of the State. The Senate recognizes that our healthcare industry in particular requires additional workforce development, and the Senate is committed to increasing the support for the State's long-term care workforce; growing the State's medical and nursing staff workforce; and investigating what barriers prevent recruitment of out-of-state healthcare professionals. Further, the Senate is committed to expanding education and our education workforce. During this session, the Senate will work to expand access to quality early childhood education; create incentives for attracting qualified teachers, including teacher housing; and improve the University of Hawaiʻi system with a focus on student needs. Economic Development and Infrastructure The Senate remains committed to diversifying and expanding Hawai‘i’s economy, as well as improving infrastructure throughout the State. In 2024, the Senate will focus on utilizing private-public partnerships and off-balance sheet financing proposed by the Department of Budget and Finance to identify alternative revenue streams for programs and projects; increasing investments in repairs of State facilities on each island; exploring renting out vacant State-owned facilities to generate revenue; investing in emerging industries to diversify the economy, such as film and technology; improving access to potable water; improving transit-oriented development infrastructure; improving and maintaining aging school structures; expanding alternative energy infrastructure through the installation of electric vehicle charging stations and the wheeling of electricity;  exploring energy alternatives for self-sufficiency; funding new jail, prisoner, and reentry programs; and legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis. Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resource Management Fostering sustainability and reliability in food production are a significant area of focus of the Senate. The Senate is committed to restoring and preserving local agriculture for State residents by exploring sustainable foods; restoring healthy soils; establishing food security efforts; mitigating the effects of and eradicating invasive species; and improving the Agribusiness Development Corporation. The Senate also remains committed to protecting Hawaiʻi’s unique environment and resources. The Senate’s priorities in protecting the natural environment include investing in biosecurity; exploring the feasibility of visitor impact fees and carbon taxes; supporting carbon capture initiatives; continuing to support the environmental protection of State Parks; relocating government infrastructure away from shorelines; and expanding the ways in which the State Parks Special Fund can be used. Housing and Homelessness The Senate is committed to increasing access to housing for local residents. Efforts to support housing include pursuing two additional 10,000-unit RFQs from the Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corporation and Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority; expanding housing into business and industrial zones;  increasing access to affordable housing with income-blind housing and a reform of private developer subsidies; continuing to support permanent housing for homeless individuals; revisiting the landlord-tenant code; investing in housing infrastructure and broadening housing financing options; implementing property insurance requirements and exemptions; and supporting existing and innovative homeless outreach and intervention. "The Senate's legislative priority areas for 2024 reflect the issues and concerns that were brought forth by the twenty-two members of our Majority Caucus present during our convening in early November, and in conversations with the newly-appointed Senator Troy N. Hashimoto," said Senate Majority Leader Kanuha.  "The Senate Majority is confident that, through hard-work and collaboration with our colleagues in the Senate Minority and House of Representatives, we will make significant progress on these important issues and provide much-needed assistance to our Maui Nui ʻohana as we navigate this recovery process together."


    On Thursday, January 11, 2024, Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment, and Representative Nicole Lowe, Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, will hold a joint Informational Briefing at the State Capitol about the immediacy and magnitude of the threat that climate change poses to Hawaiʻi. The ten hottest years globally in recorded history all occurred in the past ten years, with last year being the hottest yet. Climate change results in more extreme weather events, such as droughts, storms and flooding. This was graphically illustrated in Lahaina as 60-mile per hour winds and grasses dried by drought fueled wildfires that tragically claimed at least one hundred lives and destroyed more than two-thousand structures. “Climate change has been misunderstood, downplayed, or even denied by many people -- and denial does not make a problem go away, it just forestalls any action and makes the problem worse,” said Senator Gabbard. “To address a problem, we must first recognize that the problem exists and then understand its scope, scale and timing. Therefore, the purpose of this Informational Briefing is to bring public attention to the immediacy and magnitude of climate change. We need everyone’s help to do the long, hard work of countering climate change as much as we can, mitigating it where we can and adapting to it as well as we can.” "Despite many years of warnings from scientists nationwide, the climate is still on track to reach nearly 3C degrees of warming, a milestone that has been called 'the point of no return,'” said Representative Lowen. “Even with years of global climate action, the anticipated level of warming continues to rise, as do local impacts like increased temperatures, natural disasters, droughts, and coral bleaching. It is imperative for legislators and the public alike to fully understand the scope of the climate crisis and its impacts, and I hope that this Briefing will further those efforts." The Briefing will take place on Thursday at 1:00pm, in conference room 325 at the State Capitol, and will include presentations from the State Climatologist, the Interim Dean of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program, the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, the State Climate Change Commission, retired Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Justice Michael Wilson, and the Climate Future Forum The Briefing Notice can be found here.


    Today, Senator Angus McKelvey (District 6, West Maui, Mā‘alaea, Waikapū, South Maui) issued the following statement responding to Governor Green and Mayor Bissen’s interim housing plan for Maui wildfire survivors: “Nearly five months after the wildfire, I joined the Senate Ways and Means Committee on a site visit to the burn zone yesterday. I aimed to help them grasp the devastation firsthand. However, the predominant feelings were heartbreak for my community and an urgent need for action. I felt disappointed upon learning about the State and County administrations' unexpected joint announcement regarding their interim housing plan. Essentially, the plan will not only continue to exacerbate the rental market's hyperinflation but also displace West Maui families by relocating them to long-term accommodations at Maui Lani, severing their community ties. Many residents, including those with children in school, work on the West side. Forcing them to relocate, even temporarily—which history shows could mean years—to Maui Lani for housing is illogical when viable options exist in West Maui. Typically, it takes an hour to travel from Maui Lani to the West side on a Monday morning. Now, add trucks hauling debris and increased tourist traffic, and daily standstills become inevitable. How can this be a sensible plan? The proposed “alternative” for families to remain in West Maui exacerbates inflation by paying day rates for short-term rentals. This could leave survivors struggling to cover the rent gap if government support falls short. Moreover, by paying landlords high rates akin to FEMA levels, this program sets inflated rates as the new norm across Maui. As a result, residents are facing non-renewed leases and skyrocketing prices. Calls for decisive action against those exploiting the situation have yielded only policies that further inflate rental prices. The emergency proclamation should have addressed rampant rental price gouging, for both residential and commercial properties. It should have curbed the entire rental market's hyperinflation until we've adequately housed all displaced West Maui residents. The legislative session starting on January 17 offers a chance for community input. Our government, founded on checks and balances, has so far failed to adequately represent survivors, overshadowed by decrees from other parts of Maui, the state, and the country. Every community deserves to stay close to its roots during crises. Just as Manoa residents would find forced relocation to Wahiawa shocking, so do the people of Lahaina. We must prioritize preserving Lahaina's community on the West Side in our interim solutions.”


    Hilo, Hawaiʻi – Today, Senator Lorraine Inouye (Senate District 1, Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo) issued the following statement thanking Governor Josh Green for recently releasing $450,000 in capital improvement project funds to finance the construction and equipment for the replacement of two medical vacuum systems at Hilo Medical Center: “I’d like to thank Governor Green for releasing funding to finance the replacement of the medical vacuum systems at Hilo Medical Center,” said Senator Inouye. “Medical vacuum systems provide suction for various medical applications and is a critical component in medical environments where the removal of fluids or other substances is necessary during surgical procedures, patient care, and other medical interventions. The new medical vacuum systems at Hilo Medical Center will play crucial roles in various medical applications, ranging from surgical procedures and wound care to respiratory support and obstetrics. As our communities age, it is imperative that we have reliable quality hospitals such as Hilo Medical Center.”


    Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – The Hawaiʻi State Legislature today announced that the Grants-In-Aid (GIA) process for the 2024 Legislative Session is now open, and interested parties are asked to submit their applications to the Legislature. "Our community organizations and non-profits provide invaluable services and support to our communities across the state. We look forward to assessing the needs of our state in a comprehensive manner and finding the best ways to utilize our state resources," said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Donovan M. Dela Cruz. "The impact of the Lahaina wildfires has altered the course of our budget projections. Recovery efforts could affect funding allocations in other areas, requiring a cautious approach in determining the upcoming state budget. We remain dedicated to aiding eligible organizations and non-profits that are leading publicly funded programs, and a clearer picture will materialize as we work on the state budget," said House Committee on Finance Chair Kyle T. Yamashita. The Legislature will continue to accept GIA applications until Friday, January 19, 2024, at 4:30 p.m., and final determinations will be made as Council on Revenue forecasts in January and March are published and long-term plans for wildfire recovery efforts unfold. The Legislature makes appropriations for GIA in accordance with Chapter 42F of the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (HRS). The Eligibility Verification stage requires the submission of documentation to verify that the Grantee meets the standards for a grant award under HRS §42F-103. For additional details on the GIA application process, visit

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