Hawaii lawmakers passed and killed dozens of bills Friday as they raced against a 6 p.m. deadline to send measures out of conference committees and on to the full House and Senate for final votes next Tuesday and Thursday.
The morning started off at a slow simmer and reached a boil by the evening. Senators and representatives zipped between conference rooms, working all five floors of the Capitol as they met to discuss bills and hash out last-minute agreements — or not.
Here’s a far-from-all-inclusive highlight reel of what survived and what died.
See You Next Week
Here are some of the bills that emerged from conference committees and face floor votes next week:
Autism Coverage: Senate Bill 791 would mandate that insurance companies cover up to $25,000 a year in treatment until a child turns 14.
Rail Tax Extension: House Bill 134 would extend Honolulu’s 0.5 percent General Excise Tax surcharge for rail another five years beyond its Dec. 31, 2022, sunset date.
Alii Place: House Bill 1366 would let the state negotiate the purchase of Alii Place, a prime downtown Honolulu office building that a San Francisco company has offered to sell for $90 million.
Turtle Bay: Senate Bill 284 would protect 635.3 acres of undeveloped land on the North Shore of Oahu. The deal has been fragile ever since former Gov. Neil Abercrombie brokered it but it looks close to becoming finalized.
Cesspool Upgrades: House Bill 1140 would give property owners a $10,000 tax credit to upgrade cesspools to approved sewer systems, such as a septic or aerobic system, in an attempt to phase out some of Hawaii’s 90,000 cesspools.
Health Connector Assistance: Senate Bill 1028 would provide $2 million next year for the health insurance marketplace.
IDs for Homeless: Senate Bill 273 would allow homeless people to apply for state identification cards even without the required state and federal documents if a social service organization, attorney, member of the clergy, correctional institution staff or health professional presents a signed statement certifying their personal information. It would waive all fees for homeless individuals.
Water Scalping Study: House Bill 1394 would require the Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the use of water scalping technology – the process of extracting usable water from a sewerage network – in state facilities.
Community-Based Renewable Energy Projects: Senate Bill 1050 would establish a community-based renewable energy program, which allow electric utility customers to participate in renewable energy projects that produce electricity, which they can sell back to electric utility companies.
Changes to the Barrel Tax: Senate Bill 359 would fund the Environmental Response Revolving Fund with the general fund instead of the barrel tax to ensure that there’s a consistent stream of funding that supplies investments in clean energy, local agricultural production and environmental emergency responses.
UIPA Exemption: House Bill 287 would have originally created a new exemption in the Uniform Information Practices Act if the release of the information caused harm, inconvenience or unfairness to an individual, but it was cut down to only exempt information that would create a substantial risk of physical harm to someone.
Kupuna Care: Senate Bill 964 would provide an additional $3 million to fund the Kupuna Care program in fiscal year 2016, which is in addition to the base budget of $4.8 million. This amount of funding is less than previous years, and much less than $11 million that the bill originally asked for.
Not Happening This Year
Here are some of the bills that died in conference committees this week:
Payday Loans: Senate Bill 737 would have capped the annual percentage rate for payday loans at 36 percent, much lower than the current 459 percent.
In Vitro Fertilization: Senate Bill 768 would have required insurance companies to cover fertility treatments to include same-sex couples and single women.
Health Connector Reforms: House Bill 1467 would have let the Connector offer large group coverage to insurers and made other reforms.
Banning Microbeads: House Bill 621 would have gradually banned the manufacture and sale of personal care products containing synthetic plastic microbeads to protect marine life.
Kahoolawe Restoration Fund: House Bill 438 would have given money to the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission for restoration and preservation projects, but the bill was deferred because of its $2 million budget over the next two years.
School Bullying: House Bill 819 would have required state and county agencies that serve youth to establish bullying prevention policies, and would have started a task force to help the governor develop bullying prevention policies. However, the bill was deferred because it didn’t get clearance from the House and Senate money committees.
School Health Program: Senate Bill 841 would have required the Department of Education and Department of Health start a working group to discuss and create a comprehensive school-based health program, but the bill was deferred because it didn’t get clearance from the money committees.
Safe Places for Youth: Senate Bill 979 would have established the Safe Places Youth Pilot Program, which would have created a network of safe places where youth could receive services like counseling, alcohol and substance abuse support, and teen pregnancy prevention without parental consent.
Increasing Public Housing: House Bill 1354 would have given general obligation bonds to several state agencies to help improve and increase existing public and affordable housing.
Affordable Housing: House Bill 278 would have allowed the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation, upon request by a county, to establish and operate for the county an affordable housing subaccount within the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund. This could have given counties funding to help build more affordable housing.
REPORTING ON HAWAII’S BIGGEST ISSUES
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