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Friday, March 19, 2021
Grassroot Institute Legislative Update
By Grassroot Institute @ 4:55 AM :: 2720 Views :: Ethics, Development, Hawaii State Government, Taxes, COVID-19

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

From Grassroot Institute, March 18, 2021

Hawaii's Legislature is about halfway through its 2021 session, and if we're lucky, the good will outweigh the bad when it's over

During the past week, the institute submitted testimony regarding some of the good, but not necessarily perfect, bills at the Hawaii Legislature."

>> HB200, relating to the state budget

"The current budget bill HB200 submitted by the executive branch reduces general fund expenditures by $299.4 million in fiscal 2022, demonstrating that lawmakers can reduce spending. However, there are many issues with the current budget that lawmakers should address [such as skipped EUTF payments, debt obligations, increased spending and payroll, windfall revenues, "golden handcuffs" and the "golden rule" of state budgeting]." 

"Keeping government growth below the state’s overall economic growth would leave more money for Hawaii residents to invest in new businesses, buy new homes, afford college educations for their children and generally accumulate capital that is essential to a sustainable, healthy and prosperous economy." 

>> SCR4 and SR4, requesting a study of whether 'certificate of need' laws are necessary:

"This resolution represents an important step toward addressing Hawaii’s ongoing difficulties with health care affordability and access. As noted in the text of the resolution, recent studies suggest that CON laws have the counterproductive effect of limiting health care quality and access in our state. It is time that Hawaii joined those states that have improved health care in their states by reforming the CON process."

>> SB134 SD1, relating to emergency powers, which would prohibit the governor or mayor from suspending requests for public records or vital statistics during a declared state of emergency: 

"We consider this bill a step in the right direction … While we understand that the executive needs leeway to handle an emergency as needed, that is not a carte blanche to suspend laws because they are merely inconvenient. Instead, government actions during an emergency should be narrowly tailored to demonstrate a connection between the actions and the protection of public health or safety. Open government is not only at the core of our constitutional principles, it is also essential to uphold public faith in the decision-making of our leaders and the democratic process."

>> SB294, SD1, relating to property forfeiture:

"By introducing a higher standard for forfeiture, this bill would take an important step in addressing many of the concerns raised in the [state] audit (that found that in 26% of asset forfeiture cases closed during fiscal 2015, property was forfeited without a corresponding criminal charge, and in another 4% of cases, the property was forfeited even though the charge was dismissed). … This bill also deserves praise for seeking to eliminate incentives that can arise from the practice of asset forfeiture. By directing the proceeds from the forfeiture program to the general fund, this bill would prevent any agency or group from having a financial interest in asset forfeiture."

>> SB1337 SD1, relating to housing density:

"By allowing urban neighborhoods to vote to increase housing density within their block, SB1337 would comprise a positive step toward addressing the state housing shortage."

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