The seven Republican representatives in the 51-member state House will be pushing 20 bills this legislative session as part of their Minority Caucus package.
The bills generally fall under three categories: creating jobs, lowering the cost of living and giving the government back to the people, Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto Chang said during a press conference Monday at the Capitol.
“With a potential Army downsizing, it’s even more important that the Legislature act in a way that shows a serious commitment to making sure that there are good jobs for the people of Hawaii and they can afford to live here,” she said in a statement.
“Government is sometimes slow to react to people’s needs, and our goal is to help change the status quo by offering real solutions to everyday problems,” she added.
Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto, pictured here last session, and her fellow House Republicans discussed their joint package of bills for the 2015 legislative session Monday.
PF Bentley/Civil Beat
The GOP bills include giving the counties a bigger share of the hotel tax revenue the state collects, promoting business development near the rail stations planned for southern Oahu and requiring the Department of Land and Natural Resources to conduct an environmental review of a state ferry system.
Also in the package is legislation that would make it harder to raise taxes and a proposed constitutional amendment to allow for direct initiative, popular referendum and recall.
Here’s the complete list with links to the individual bills:
RELATING TO TRANSIENT ACCOMMODATIONS TAX (HB403): Removes the current cap on transient accommodations tax revenues to be distributed to the counties and establishes the distribution of these revenues as a percentage of TAT collected for infrastructure and services related to increased tourism.
RELATING TO STATE ENTERPRISE ZONES (HB1209): Incentivizes business investment near rail transit stations by establishing an Economic Development for Growing Economy program and expanding enterprise zone designations to include EDGE-eligible businesses.
RELATING TO FERRIES (HB415): Requires the department of land and natural resources to conduct any necessary environmental impact statements for the establishment of the Hawaii state ferry system.
RELATING TO RETAIL WHEELING (HB416): Requires the public utilities commission to establish policies and procedures related to retail wheeling to enable independent power producers to sell electricity directly to end users.
RELATING TO ENERGY STORAGE (HB421): Establishes an income tax credit for each independent energy storage property installed and placed in service during the taxable year beginning after Dec. 31, 2015; provided that this tax credit shall not be available for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2025. Allows the tax credit to be claimed as either an investment credit or utilization credit. Appropriates funds to administer the tax credit.
RELATING TO CARE PROVIDERS (HB422): Provides a general excise tax exemption for property owners who lease to assisted living providers and child care providers.
RELATING TO COTTAGE FOODS (HB408): Provides an exemption from Department of Health rules to certain cottage food products sold directly to consumers under certain conditions. Requires the Department of Health to adopt rules no later than Dec. 31, 2015.
RELATING TO GRANTS IN AID (HB424): Guarantees a minimum of 10 per cent of grant in aid moneys to specifically address administrative and overhead costs to help stabilize income and increase fundraising.
MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE HAWAII INNOVATION WAIVER TASK FORCE (HB404): Appropriates funds to support the operations of the Hawaii Innovation Waiver Task Force for fiscal year 2016-2017.
RELATING TO HISTORIC PRESERVATION (HB405): Exempts personal residences from automatic historic preservation review. Amends definition of “historic property.” Requires the department of land and natural resources to develop a plan for implementation and completing a comprehensive inventory of historic buildings.
RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII (HB407): Requires prior legislative approval for any proposed University of Hawaii tuition fee increase, before the increase can take effect.
RELATING TO AUDITING THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (HB410): Mandates a periodic management and financial audit of the Public Utilities Commission by the state auditor.
RELATING TO THE AUDIT AUTHORITY OF THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (HB420): Mandates a periodic audit of certain public utilities by the Public Utilities Commission for managerial, financial, and environmental compliance.
RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLE WEIGHT TAX REDUCTION (HB411): Reduces the annual vehicle weight tax and maintains allocation of the tax to the state highway fund.
RELATING TO VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEE REDUCTION (HB417): Reduces the vehicle registration fee and maintains allocation of the fee to the state highway fund and emergency medical services special fund.
RELATING TO THE GENERAL EXCISE TAX (HB419): Provides a general excise tax exemption for food after Dec. 31, 2019, and for medical services after Dec. 31, 2017.
RELATING TO CONTROVERSIAL PUBLIC SCHOOL CURRICULUM (HB406): Makes permanent existing Board of Education policy by requires public schools to provide parents or legal guardians written advance notice of the instruction or provision of materials or activities that address controversial issues.
RELATING TO FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENTS (HB409): Requires the office of the legislative analyst to create fiscal impact statements for certain bills that have a fiscal impact. Makes an appropriation to the office of the legislative analyst.
PROPOSING AMENDMENTS TO ARTICLES II, III, AND XVII OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF HAWAII TO PROVIDE FOR INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM, AND RECALL (HB418): Amends the state constitution to provide for direct initiative, popular referendum, and recall.
PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE III, SECTION 15, OF THE HAWAII STATE CONSTITUTION TO ENACT A SUPERMAJORITY VOTING REQUIREMENT FOR PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION PROPOSING TO RAISE OR CREATE TAXES (HB423): Proposes a constitutional amendment to include a two-thirds supermajority voting requirement for the legislature to pass laws that raise taxes or create new taxes.
It will be hard, as it has been for decades in Hawaii, for Republican lawmakers to move their bills forward in such a Democrat-dominated Legislature. But a couple of the bills in the Minority Caucus package have at least been scheduled for hearings.
House Bill 420 would require the Public Utilities Commission to have Hawaiian Electric Co. independently audited every three years. Rep. Cynthia Thielen said Monday that the legislation comes in response to HECO’s poor response to attempts to get the company to implement new technologies and lower electric costs.
A related bill, House Bill 410, would require the state auditor to conduct a management and financial audit of the PUC every five years.
The Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Angus McKelvey, has scheduled a public hearing on both bills at 2:45 p.m., Wednesday, in Room 325 at the Capitol.
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