House-Senate majority package focuses on kupuna, environment
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first combined House-Senate Majority package since 2008.)
News Release from House and Senate Democratic Caucuses January 16, 2014
Senate and House leaders today announced a joint majority package of priorities for the 2014 legislative session. The last time a joint majority package was unveiled was during the 2008 Legislative Session.
Lawmakers will focus their combined efforts on two major areas of concern: Seniors and the Environment.
The significance of a joint package is that the included bills are considered to have statewide importance and the commitment of the majorities of both chambers.
“We are starting off the session in the spirit of collaboration between the House and Senate,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “These shared priorities of seniors and the environment are important because they have sufficient support within both caucuses and address statewide issues of broad public concern at the forefront of the legislative session.”
“It has been years, since both houses have been able to come together to support a joint legislative package,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “The proposed legislation is the result of the tireless efforts of representatives from both houses, who helped pull together all the various interests and priorities to find mutual ground and commitments to serious concerns that are statewide and cross political boundaries.”
Providing support for Hawaii’s rapidly growing elderly population is a priority for state lawmakers. In the last 30 years, the number of seniors over 60 in Hawaii grew by nearly 140 percent and seniors over 85 increased by more than 430 percent.
Moreover, studies project that Hawaii’s seniors over 60 will make up nearly a third of the State’s total population by 2035.
State lawmakers will propose legislation to protect seniors from financial abuse, support healthy aging programs and increase public awareness of long-term care.
“Hawaii has always had a strong tradition of respect and care for our kupuna,” said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D, Kakaako-McCully-Waikiki), Senate Majority Leader. “Yet because the number of seniors in Hawaii have been and will continue to grow exponentially, demand for a wide range of services have quickly outpaced our ability to care for them. Our families desperately need information and support, especially with long-term care and services that allow for aging in place.”
Relating to Aging: This is a two-part bill that funds healthy aging programs and services, and provides resources for the implementation of a public education and awareness campaign on long-term care. Most successful senior programs recognize and build upon integrated health and social services.
Therefore, the bill allocates a total of $6.6 million to support community-based programs that incorporate collaborations between health care and social service agencies.
The second part of the bill provides $500,000 for the Department of Health’s Executive Office on Aging to implement a public education and awareness campaign to help better prepare Hawaii residents in planning for future long-term care needs.
Relating to the Investor Education Program: This bill provides $50,000 in funding for outreach initiatives of the Office of Consumer Protection (DCCA) to prevent financial abuse of seniors.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
With regard to the environment, majority members will address concerns on the effects of climate change and invasive species on our islands.
The current severe erosion on Oahu’s North Shore beaches and the threat to homes in the area dramatically illustrate how future climate change could impact Hawaii shorelines.
“We often think of these islands as permanent and unchanging,” said Rep. Henry J.C. Aquino (D, Waipahu), House Majority Policy Leader. “But our environment is fragile and constantly changing, and increasingly threatened by outside forces. We need to be aware of these threats and develop a concerted effort to protect our people, environment, agriculture and economy from them.”
In addition, during recent legislative hearings, state health officials told lawmakers that Hawaii is facing serious threats from new alien species, including coconut rhinoceros beetles, fire ants and mosquitos carrying dengue fever.
State lawmakers will propose legislation to provide support for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to help eradicate threats from invasive species on all islands and resources for the Office of Planning to ensure Hawaii adapts to protect the public from the effects of climate change through 2050.
Relating to Climate Change: This bill provides the resources and timeline to ensure Hawaii adapts to protect the public from the effects of climate change. Provides positions and resources to the Office of Planning who will, within 18 months, come up with plans and policy recommendations to effectively address the worst impacts expected through 2050.
Relating to Invasive Species: This bill provides a proposed $5 million in funding for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to help eradicate threats from invasive species on all the islands.
* HB1713, Relating to Aging
* HB1714, Relating to Climate Change
* HB1715, Relating to the Investor Education Program
* HB1716, Making an Appropriation for Invasive Species Prevention
For more information, contact:
Majority Package: Senator Brickwood Galuteria 808-586-6740
Environment: Senator Mike Gabbard 808-586-6830
Kupuna: Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland 808-586-6130
House of Representatives
Majority Package: Representative Henry Aquino 808-586-6520
Environment: Representative Chris Lee 808-586-9450
Kupuna: Representative Della Au Belatti 808-586-9425
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