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Sunday, January 28, 2024
House Introduces Maui Wildfire Bills
By News Release @ 3:40 AM :: 1227 Views :: Maui County


Measures stem from proposals in the House Interim Working Groups Final Report

News Release from House of Representatives, January 26, 2024 

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Speaker Scott K. Saiki today announced the House has introduced bills and resolutions aligning with recommendations outlined in the Final Report of the House of Representatives Lahaina Wildfire Interim Working Groups, which was published on December 15, 2023.

Comprising ten bills and two resolutions, the measures reflect the bipartisan efforts of six interim House working groups that collaborated with subject experts and various agencies and engaged in extensive discussions relating to the Lahaina wildfire. The House's fourteen-week efforts culminated in recommendations poised for consideration in the 2024 legislative session.

"Public input was critical in shaping these policy recommendations," stated House Speaker Scott K. Saiki. "Reflecting on the tragedy that occurred in Lahaina, the House acknowledges the existence of numerous areas in the state with similar threats and aims to proactively plan to prevent potential tragic disasters."

"During the interim, six bipartisan working groups were formed to address concerns and to answer two critical questions: what can we learn from the Maui wildfires and how can we prepare ourselves for future disasters?" said House Majority Leader Nadine K. Nakamura. "The proposed legislation aligns with the final report's recommendations, and we extend our gratitude to the community for their active involvement throughout this process."

"In August, our state was rocked by the horrific tragedy on Maui. This crisis should not be a partisan issue or even a political issue," stated House Minority Leader Lauren Matsumoto. “I hope that this bipartisan legislation will send a clear message to the residents of Maui that we are putting their needs over politics."

The following bipartisan measures have been introduced on behalf of the House:

HB1835 – Relating to Distribution Management

Establishes the distribution management advisory board to develop and advise on the statewide distribution management plan.

Recommendation of the Food, Water and Other Supplies Working Group

HB1836 – Relating to Health

Allows pharmacists, during declared states of emergency, to refill prescriptions of up to thirty-day supplies of dangerous drugs and dangerous devices if the prescriber is unavailable or cannot be contacted to authorize the refill and if, in the pharmacist's professional judgment, failure to refill the prescription might interrupt the patient's ongoing care and have a significant adverse effect on the patient's well-being.

Recommendation of the Food, Water and Other Supplies Working Group

HB1837 – Relating to School Safety

Requires the Department of Education to grant public access to emergency action plans that do not pose a security risk to students, staff, or guests of school campuses. Requires each Department school to have a comprehensive school evacuation communication plan for use during emergencies. Requires the Department of Education to collaborate with the Department of Transportation to assess all Department school campuses to determine if there are sufficient emergency evacuation routes for each campus and report to the Legislature.

Recommendation of the Schools Working Group

HB1838 – Relating to Zoning

Allows counties to enact a zoning ordinance to amortize or phase out nonconforming single-family transient vacation rental units over a reasonable period of time.

Recommendation of the Shelter Working Group

HB1839 – Relating to the Environment

Appropriates funds for long-term monitoring of air and water quality for communities impacted by the Maui wildfires, as well as support for research efforts to better understand the environmental concerns linked to urban fires.

Recommendation of the Environmental Remediation Working Group

HB1840 – Relating to the Environment

Appropriates funds to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to support long-term water quality monitoring and pollution source detection.

Recommendation of the Environmental Remediation Working Group

HB1841 – Relating to the Department of Land and Natural Resources

Appropriates funds to DLNR for operating expenses, equipment, the establishment of positions, and capital improvement projects to support wildfire emergency response.

Recommendation of the Wildfire Prevention Working Group

HB1842 – Relating to Fire Prevention

Increases the maximum fine for violations of the fire protection laws. Specifies that each day a violation exists or continues to exist shall constitute a distinct and separate offense. Raises the criminal penalty for the offense of arson in the fourth degree to a class C felony if the offense was committed during the time period and within the geographic area in which a red flag warning was in effect. Provides that the state of mind requirement is not applicable to the fact that the red flag warning was in effect and that the actor is strictly liable with respect to the attendant circumstance that the red flag warning was in effect.

Recommendation of the Wildfire Prevention Working Group

HB1843 – Relating to Fire Protection

Establishes the office of the state fire marshal to direct fire protection efforts statewide. Appropriates funds.

Recommendation of the Wildfire Prevention Working Group

HB1844 – Relating to the University of Hawaiʻi

Appropriates funds for temporary full-time equivalent adjunct faculty positions at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College.

Recommendation of the Jobs and Business Working Group

HCR3 – Urging each county to establish an emergency zoning code for post-disaster use

Recommendation of the Shelter Working Group

HCR4 – Requesting Hawaiʻi's congressional delegation to amend the wildfire fire protection agreement to allow Hawaiʻi to join as a member

Recommendation of the Wildfire Prevention Working Group

Members of the public are encouraged to track the legislation on the Capitol website, where they can also review the final report for the six working groups.



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