Whoof. I have been spending so much time this session shepherding the Women’s Legislative Caucus and other bills that I have fallen down on my writing.
With apologies for a belated post, here is the comparison of how you voted to how I voted. Also a short update on the current status of the five bills.
Thank you to all who have responded to our survey before the first crossover.
Should civil penalties be established for misrepresentation of service animals? (Clarifies that animals who are not trained service animals, including ones who provide companionship, comfort or emotional support, do not qualify as service animals.)
I voted Yes.
Service animals are trained to assist someone with a disability. Someone claiming they need a comfort animal, and then getting them into situations where they are aggressive with people or service animals, is being extremely inconsiderate as well as violating the law. I support putting some teeth into that law (pun intended). The Senate bill has been referred to House Judiciary, where it must be heard by April 5 in order to move forward.
Should UH and DLNR be removed from managing Mauna Kea and be replaced by a new management authority? (The new Mauna Kea Management Authority would be made up of experts of astronomy, land management, business, environment, and Native Hawaiian Practitioners.)
I voted Yes with Reservation. For the record, I try to limit use of the “reservations” to votes where the bill can still be amended. I want legislators who have the ability to make amendments to hear what my reservations are, so they hopefully will make amendments. When it comes to the final vote, I try to stick only to Yes or No, because that’s all we can do at that point.
My reservations on this bill: (1) While some people have been unhappy with the management of Mauna Kea, I’m not sure a new governing board is the answer; (2) This bill provides for a paid board. That would set a huge precedent – none of our land board members are paid. In some ways it creates an incentive to commercialize the resource, to generate money to cover salaries; and (3) The new governing entity doesn’t have the public trust responsibility and vision for stewardship set out in the bill. That needs to be really clearly described. There is a lot of case law that describes the public trust responsibilities of DLNR, and I don’t want to see a resource of this importance left outside of that sphere of responsibility. There should be ways to amend the bill to make that clear.
The bill was referred to House Finance Committee, where it would need to be heard by April 5 to move forward. The author is listening to concerns, and continues to work on amendments, for which I give him credit.
Should the state establish safe zones where homeless can reside in temporary shelters until they can transition to permanent housing? (Hygiene facilities and necessary social services would be provided on these state designated sites.)
I voted Yes. With thousands of homeless, and the time it takes to build permanent housing, we don’t stand a chance of making a dent in the problem without creating some versions of safe zones. Personally, I prefer smaller zones in many places, because there are fewer problems with smaller groups of people than with large ones. I also prefer some of the innovative pre-fab micro-shelters to tents, because they’re better for a more hygienic and healthy residential area.
The bill is in House Finance. I believe there are other versions, as well as opportunities to put funding in the budget bill.
Should sunscreens with oxybenzone be banned? (Studies have shown oxybenzone damages the reef.)
I voted Yes. There are sunscreens currently on the market that do not contain these chemicals. These chemicals have been shown to harm human health as well as the reef. Let’s switch already.
The bill is waiting to be heard by House Finance for the final committee hearing.
Shall Hawaii establish a way for all private sector workers to save for retirement through automatic payroll deductions? (Currently 50% of private sector workers work for employers who do not offer a 401K retirement plan. Eight other states have established state-wide 401K retirement plans that are managed by privately run, low-cost investment funds. These plans help lower wage workers save for retirement.)
I voted Yes. And, for the record, this was a bill I introduced.
To me, it’s a matter of fairness. People who work for bigger businesses and/or higher-income jobs have access to 401K retirement accounts where they can take pre-tax wages and save for retirement. About half of our small businesses don’t have the capacity to set up these 401K accounts, and are less able to compete for employees.
This bill would let low wage workers save pre-tax wages for their own retirement, and allow small businesses to be more competitive for workers, and reduce reliance on state benefits as people enter their kupuna years with more savings under their belt.
The bill is in the House Finance Committee for final hearing.