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How major bills fared at the Capitol

The state Legislature passed the midpoint of this year’s session Thursday, advancing bills that would supercharge the redevelopment of Aloha Stadium, legalize recreational cannabis and expand access to abortions and lethal doses of medication for terminally ill patients. With COVID-19 and its economic impacts top of mind, lawmakers have queued up a host of revenue-generating bills, including measures to boost the capital gains tax, corporate taxes and taxes on high-end real estate sales, along with a proposal that would increase the income tax for the state’s top earners to the highest in the nation. The bills that are alive have passed at least one chamber; bills that are failing have stalled in a committee or never received a hearing by internal deadlines — but that doesn’t mean they can’t be revived later.

GOVERNMENT

Passing

State budget

HB 2200, HD 1/SB 2075, SD 1

Authorizes $15.4 billion in spending on government operations for the year beginning July 1, and $2.35 billion in construction spending in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Additional spending is contained in numerous appropriation bills moving separately through the Legislature.

HART board

SB 998, SD 1

Allows board members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation who are appointed by the Senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives to vote.

Claims against the state

SB 1039, SD 1

Makes appropriations to settle lawsuits brought against the state.

Employees on public assistance

HB 718, HD 1

Requires the Department of Human Services to compile information on employers whose employees are receiving public assistance, such as Medicaid, including the 50 employers with the highest number of such employees. The bill is aimed at identifying employers who have “abused public assistance programs” by providing their employees with low wages and poor benefits with the expectation they will subsidize their income through public-assistance programs.

Campaign spending laws

SB 635

Allows the Campaign Spending Commission to refer a complaint related to campaign spending law violations for prosecution, even if the commission has already fined the individual. Increases the period by which someone is disqualified from holding public office to 10 from four years, upon conviction of a campaign spending law violation.

Aloha Stadium

SB 1423, SD 2

Supercharges the redevelopment of Aloha Stadium. Gives special powers to the Stadium Authority, which manages the stadium, including ownership of the land and broad redevelopment and procurement tools. Creates a stadium development special fund.

Public land leases

SB 257, SD 2

Allows the Board of Land and Natural Resources to extend certain leases of public land for commercial, industrial, resort and mixed use beyond the maximum allowable term of 65 years via a pilot program.

Failing

HART board

HB 1288/SB 1324

Excludes nonvoting, ex-officio board members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation from being counted for the purpose of quorum. These members are appointed by the Senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives.

Voting age

HB 449/SB 824

Proposes a constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to 16 from 18 years of age.

Grants-in-aid

SB 556, SD 1

Prohibits an organization that has a current legislator on its governing board from being eligible for the state’s grants-in-aid program, which typically doles out millions in grants to nonprofits every year.

TAXES

Passing

Income tax

SB 56, SD 1

Imposes 16% tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year, heads of households earning more than $300,000 and joint filers earning more than $400,000. The income brackets are currently taxed at 11%. Increases capital gains tax, corporate tax and taxes on high-end real estate sales.

Jobless fund

HB 1278

Caps the amount businesses have to pay into the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years. Covers 50% of base period claims for reimbursing employers. (Gov. David Ige signed the bill into law March 3.)

Inheritance tax

HB 445, HD 1

Lowers the amount of inheritance excluded from the state tax to less than the current $5.49 million, with the threshold to be determined.

Capital gains tax

HB 133, HD 1

Increases capital gains tax threshold to 9% from 7.25% beginning in the 2021 tax year.

Tobacco products

SB 1147, SD 2

Taxes e-liquid and electronic smoking devices in accordance with the cigarette tax and tobacco tax law. Increases licensing fee for dealers of cigarette and tobacco products and retail tobacco permit fee for sellers of cigarette and tobacco products.

Rental cars

HB 485, HD 1

Increases rental motor vehicle surcharge tax from $5 to an amount to be determined.

Climate change

HB 433, HD 1

Imposes a daily climate change mitigation impact fee on rental cars and deposits the fees into the general fund until July 2024, after which they would go into a climate change mitigation special fund.

Union trust fund

SB 1087, SD 1

Temporarily suspends the requirement that public employers make annual contributions to the Hawaii Employer- Union Health Benefits Trust Fund through the 2025 fiscal year. Aims to give the state flexibility in addressing budget shortfalls while the economy recovers.

Liquor license

HB 137, HD 1

Requires that violations of the liquor tax law be investigated by the Department of Taxation instead of county liquor commissions.

Failing

Income tax credit

HB 432

Extends earned income tax credit for low-income workers by five years; credit is set to expire Dec. 31, 2022.

Unemployment

SB 614, SD2

Exempts from state income taxes unemployment compensation received between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.

Sugar tax

HB 994, SB 1148

Imposes 2-cents-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks.

Alcoholic drinks

SB 1232, SD1; HB 771

Imposes 10-cents-per-drink tax on alcoholic beverages from July 1 through June 30, 2024.

Minimum wage

HB 4

Establishes a temporary small-business income tax credit for qualified employers to offset the cost of providing health care coverage to employees who earn below $50,000, with credit to be repealed July 30, 2027. Raises the minimum wage in annual increments, starting with an increase to $11.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2022, and hitting $17 per hour on Jan. 1, 2026, and establishes adjusted minimum wage rate for 2027 and beyond. Repeals the tip credit.

EDUCATION

Passing

COVID-19 reporting

SB 811

Requires the Department of Education to publish a weekly report on schools reporting COVID-19 cases. The department currently reports by complex area.

Computer science

SB 242, SD 2

Requires that computer science content or courses be offered in elementary and middle schools, on a phased basis over four years. Sets up a computer science special fund.

Teacher salaries

SB 270, SD 2/HB 613, HD 2

Appropriates federal coronavirus relief funds to offset budget reductions that would otherwise result in layoffs or pay cuts to unionized employees working at the school level.

Bullying

HB 225, HD 2

Requires the BOE to develop a bullying prevention and response action plan. Repeals Act 214, Session Laws of Hawaii 2011.

Sex abuse measures

SB 518, SD 2

Requires the DOE to establish and implement a sexual abuse prevention education program for public school students, provide relevant training to teachers and staff, and inform parents and guardians about important child sexual abuse topics.

Sustainable goals

SB 1311, SD 2

Requires the DOE to establish food waste and zero-emission vehicle goals as part of the sustainable-schools initiative.

Ocean safety

SB 508

Requires the DOE to establish and administer an ocean safety and stewardship education program for all fourth grade students.

Scholarships

HB 1291, HD 1

Makes public school students who qualified for special education for at least two years and maintained a 3.0 grade-point average in high school eligible for scholarships through the Hawaii state scholars program and community college Hawaii Promise program.

Financial literacy

SB 1004

Beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, requires the DOE to include the teaching of financial literacy in the personal/transition plan requirement for each high school student.

Failing

Income tax credit

HB 791, HD 1

Establishes a state income tax credit for certain expenses incurred by prekindergarten-through-grade 12 teachers, instructors, counselors, principals or aides.

UH land use

SB 1224/HB 1070

Provides a framework to support consistent land use planning and development across the University of Hawaii system and allows project partnerships.

Campus safety

HB 691/SB 727

Requires UH to provide training on the impacts of trauma on employees responsible for investigating incidents and assisting victims of sexual and domestic violence. Improves access for confidential support services. Requires UH to annually inform students and employees of sexual and domestic violence prevention and disclosure protocols. To the extent possible, requires a private college or university to implement identical campus safety and accountability standards as those applying to UH.

CONSUMER PROTECTION/LABOR

Passing

Minimum wage

SB 676

Raises the state’s minimum wage to $12 in July 2022.

Deepfakes

SB 309

Makes it a Class C felony to intentionally manipulate images called deepfakes — edited pictures of videos created by computer software that virtually removes a person’s face from an existing image and pastes it onto the body of another.

Online privacy

HB 125, HD 2

Establishes the Uniform Employee and Student Online Privacy Protection Act, which protects the online accounts of employees, prospective employees, unpaid interns, applicants, students and prospective students from employers and educational institutions.

Catalytic converters

HB 446

Classifies catalytic converter theft as a Class C felony. Requires sellers to provide contact information and vehicle records to the buyer. Requires buyers of catalytic converters from sellers who do not provide the necessary documents to refuse the sale and report the attempted sale to the police. Sets fines of $100 to $2,000 for buyers who do not comply.

Telework

SB 830

Requires state departments to establish a telework and alternative work schedule policy. Sets minimum percentage of eligible employees who are required to telework or use an alternative work schedule policy and requires departments to allow employees who act as a caregiver to telework or use an alternative work schedule.

Housing

HB 1376

Extends the period for a notice of summary possession to 15 days from five. Requires landlords to enter into mediation and delays when seeking possession of a dwelling unit if the tenant schedules or attempts to schedule mediation.

Gender representation

SB 193, SD 1

Requires publicly held domestic corporations to have a gender-diverse board of directors. Establishes reporting requirements for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and penalties.

Mobile apps

HB 1253, HD 3

Prohibits employers, with certain exemptions, from requiring employees to download mobile applications to the employees’ personal communication devices, terminating or otherwise discriminating against employees for refusing to download mobile applications, or discharging or discriminating against employees for filing complaints concerning these unlawful practices.

Child actors

SB 670, SD 1

Allows minors under the age of 16 to work in theatrical employment, provided the employer procures a valid certificate of employment and the minor is accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible adult. Requires the employer to hire a nurse certified in basic life support to accompany, supervise and advocate on behalf of infants under age 1 who are on-set. Ensures a studio teacher is present to accompany, teach and attend to the health, safety and well-being of school-age minors during periods when the minors are legally required to attend school.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Passing

Oahu jail

SB 664, SD 1

Requires the Department of Public Safety to develop a new Oahu Community Correctional Center to house jail inmates. Prohibits the state from transferring the jail’s operations to a private corporation.

Cannabis possession

SB 758, SD 1

Decriminalizes the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis, up from the current limit of 3 grams. Permits convictions for possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis to be expunged.

Legal cannabis

SB 767, SD 2

Legalizes the personal use, possession and sale of cannabis and authorizes the sale of cannabis at permitted establishments.

No-knock warrants

SB 726

Bans “no-knock warrants” by requiring law enforcement to wait at least 30 seconds after announcing their presence before entering a home, store or other building. Requires officers serving a warrant to do so in uniform.

Child sex abuse

HB 570, HD 2

Allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring civil suits seeking monetary damages against their perpetrator up until the victim’s 68th birthday, regardless of when the abuse occurred. Extends the statute of limitations for victims to bring claims against an institution, school or business that employed the perpetrator to April 2024 and allows the victim to seek treble damages.

Rogue hikers

SB 700, SD 2

Allows government agencies to charge hikers for search and rescue operations if they get in trouble while leaving a trail or hiking in an area closed to the public.

Fireworks fines

HB 508

Doubles fines for illegal fireworks and increases fines for aerials to $4,000 from $2,000.

Fireworks pollution

HB 1246

Makes fireworks violations subject to the state’s air and noise pollution laws, which can entail additional fines.

Failing

Civil asset seizure

SB 294/HB 659

Prohibits law enforcement from seizing assets unless the property owner has been convicted of a felony offense relating to the property. Redirects proceeds from the sale of seized assets from law enforcement to the general fund.

Discrimination

SB 544

Allows civil suits in cases where someone calls the police on another person based on their beliefs about race, religion, sex, gender identity or other personal attributes, when there is no reason to suspect criminal conduct or imminent danger to person or property.

Police reform

HB 428

Requires a law enforcement officer who observes criminal conduct by another officer to report it. Requires law enforcement recruits to undergo psychological screening. Bans chokeholds unless the use of deadly force is justifiable.

Police equipment

SB 30

Prohibits police departments from acquiring certain military-type equipment, such as weaponized, unmanned aerial vehicles; aircraft designed for combat; and grenade launchers. Prohibits law enforcement from using rubber bullets and other projectiles, as well as tear gas, mustard gas and other chemical concoctions on protesters.

HEALTH/ SOCIAL SERVICES

Passing

Abortions

HB 576, HD 3

Allows advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions.

Medical aid in dying

SB 839, SD 2

Allows advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe drugs for terminally ill patients seeking to end their lives under the Our Care, Our Choice Act. Shortens the waiting period for obtaining the lethal drugs to 15 days from 20 and waives the waiting period for terminally ill patients who are not expected to survive the mandatory waiting period.

DHHL cannabis

SB 86, SD 3

Requires the Department of Health to issue medical cannabis dispensary licenses to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, allowing for increased revenue for beneficiaries. Requires DHHL to study the feasibility of and revenue to be generated by medical cannabis dispensaries, limited gaming and other potential revenue-generating options on Hawaiian homelands.

Emancipation

SB 821, SD 2

Allows a minor to petition the family court for emancipation when 16 years old. Allows the court to require the minor’s parents or legal guardians to pay for any services ordered by the court, including legal services and mental health treatment.

Low-cost homes

SB 1, SD 2

Creates the ALOHA homes program to develop low-cost homes on state and county land in urban redevelopment sites. The homes would be sold in leasehold by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp.

Seniors and crime

HB 490, HD 2

Lowers the age at which enhanced penalties can apply to crimes against seniors to 60 years of age from 62.

Tobacco fund

HB 1296, HD 1

Repeals the tobacco prevention and control trust fund and transfers revenues into the general fund, and appropriates general funds to the Department of Health for tobacco prevention.

Food safety

HB 770, HD 1

Creates a task force to make recommendations to ensure that Hawaii’s food imports are imported, stored and distributed in compliance with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act. Develops recommendations to ensure that all foods and brands imported into Hawaii do not mislead or confuse the public.

Mammograms

SB 827, SD 2/HB 564

Increases the categories of women required to be covered for mammogram screenings. Requires the existing health insurance mandate for coverage of low-dose mammography to include digital mammography and breast tomosynthesis.

Failing

“Magic” mushrooms

SB 738

Decriminalizes psychedelic mushrooms and requires state health officials to develop treatment centers where people can consume their active ingredients in a controlled environment as a treatment option for mental health disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

DOH/care homes

HB 488/SB 835

Requires the Department of Health to post inspection reports of care homes on its website within five working days after completing the inspection.

ENVIRONMENT

Passing

Green amendment

SB 502, SD 2

Adds an amendment to the Hawaii Constitution’s Bill of Rights that stipulates all individuals have a right to “a clean and healthy environment, including pure water, clean air and healthy ecosystems.”

Coastal real estate

HB 554, HD 2

Requires sellers to disclose whether a property lies within the sea level rise exposure area as designated by the Hawaii climate change mitigation and adaptation commission.

Shark protection

HB 553 HD 2

Makes capturing, entangling or killing a shark a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 for a first offense, $2,000 for a second offense and $10,000 for a third offense.

Vehicles

HB 552, HD 1

Establishes a goal of transitioning 100% of state-owned light-duty vehicles to renewable energy sources by December 2035.

Energy efficiency

HB 550, HD 2

Establishes a goal of achieving at least a 25% reduction in electricity consumption at state facilities and sets deadlines for state facilities to implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures. Requires new construction of state facilities to employ energy and water efficiency standards and use materials that reduce the project’s carbon footprint.

Lay nets

HB 1018, HD 2

Requires fishers using lay nets to obtain a permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Crustaceans

HB 1017, HD 1

Repeals the statutory prohibition against taking or killing spiny lobsters, Kona crabs and Samoan crabs.

Ocean fee

HB 1019, HD 2

Allows DLNR to collect visitor fees for use of the state’s ocean resources, with the money to be used for marine conservation and restoration.

Sea level rise

HB 243/SB 371

Requires state departments to identify existing and planned facilities that are vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding and natural hazards and assess mitigation options. Increases interagency coordination for sea level adaption efforts.

Sunscreen

SB 132, SD 2

Bans the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing avobenzone or octocrylene, chemicals that can damage the marine ecosystem, without a prescription.

Failing

Sandbags and tarps

SB 1310/HB 246

Requires property owners to remove emergency sandbags and tarps they installed along the public beach to protect homes, resorts and condos from coastal erosion after three years. Increases fines for homeowners and contractors who install the protections without state permission.

Coastal retreat

HB 1373

Creates a beach preservation revolving fund and financing pilot program to assist shoreline property owners with relocating mauka of expected sea level rise and erosion hazard zones.

Plastic waste

HB 1316

Prohibits restaurants from providing plastic utensils unless requested by the consumer.

COVID-19

Passing

Emergency powers

SB 134, SD 1

Prohibits the governor or mayor from suspending requests for public records or vital statistics during a declared state of emergency.

Sunshine Law

SB 1034, SD 1

Expands board and public participation by giving boards the option, in conjunction with in-person meetings, to use interactive conference technology to remotely conduct public meetings under the Sunshine Law, even when no emergency has been declared.

State travel rules

HB 1286, HD 2

Creates a uniform and simplified travel policy for visitors and residents returning to Hawaii or flying between islands amid coronavirus-related restrictions. Exempts anyone entering the state or traveling between the islands from quarantine requirements if they receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the final leg of their departure, and provides options for people who arrive in the islands without the result of a test through no fault of their own.

Emergency rules

SB 540, SD 1

Allows for lesser emergency period penalties to be adopted and promulgated by the governor or a mayor. Allows for emergency infractions to be processed under the traffic adjudication process under the Hawaii Revised Statues.

Failing

Retail locations

HB 12

Makes it a Class C felony for intentionally or knowingly causing bodily injury to an owner, employee or agent of a retail establishment who is engaged in enforcing a government health or safety requirement relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Endangerment

HB 532

Provides a minimum fine of $500 and a maximum fine of $4,000, in addition to any other penalty, for the misdemeanor offense of reckless endangering in the second degree under certain circumstances, such as boarding a commercial flight into the state after having tested positive for COVID-19.

Hotel employment

HB 642

Requires a hotel employer to recall the same number of employees in substantially the same classification as the employer’s active workforce as of March 1, 2020. Requires certain laid-off employees to be offered job positions as they become available, under certain terms and conditions.

Public records

HB 797

Prohibits the governor from suspending any provision under Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act, or any rule adopted pursuant thereto, during any emergency period.

Commercial tenants

HB 581

Prohibits a commercial landlord from initiating or continuing any action to evict or collect unpaid rent from a commercial tenant that has been adversely affected by the economic effects of COVID-19 or official measures intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Veterans homes

SB 237

Raises the standard of care for the state’s veteran homes, long-term care facilities and nursing homes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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