House Republicans to focus on more jobs, reduced cost of living

Local News

The House Minority Caucus laid out its plan for the 2015 legislative session Monday.

Lawmakers say they introduced bills that would create more jobs, including bringing back an interisland ferry system (HB415).

“Since 2010 and 2011, when we had the Superferry system, (it was) highly controversial, a lot of road blocks in that way and so we’re proposing this to remove those road blocks by having the Department of Land and Natural Resources together with the Department of Transportation to do an environmental impact statement and to also work on the details in setting up an effective interisland ferry system,” said Rep. Feki Pouha, R-Waialua, Haleiwa, Pupukea, Kahuku, Laie, Hauula, Waiahole, Waikane, Sunset Beach, Punaluu, Kaaawa.

The caucus is also working on a bill to exempt food and medicine from the general excise tax (HB419) and require that price tags be included for bills with fiscal impact (HB409).

“We’ve talked about it a couple times before, but it’s another way we can try to make sure this body doesn’t get out of control using taxpayer’s money,” said Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang, R-Mililani Mauka, Mililani.

Lawmakers are also focused on a bill (HB410), scheduled to be heard Wednesday, that would call for a management and financial audit of the Public Utilities Commission “to find out why so many of these dockets are being held up,” explained assistant minority floor leader Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-Kailua, Kaneohe Bay. “We’ve set forth the renewable energy goals. The PUC is having difficulties in implementing those goals. Why?”

The following is the full legislative package submitted by the 2015 Minority Caucus:Creating jobs

RELATING TO TRANSIENT ACCOMMODATIONS TAX (HB403)

Removes the current cap on transient accommodations tax revenues to be distributed to the counties and establishes the distribution of these revenues as a percentage of TAT collected for infrastructure and services related to increased tourism.

RELATING TO STATE ENTERPRISE ZONES (HB1209)

Incentivizes business investment near rail transit stations by establishing an Economic Development for Growing Economy (EDGE) program and expanding enterprise zone designations to include EDGE-eligible businesses.

RELATING TO FERRIES (HB415)

Requires the department of land and natural resources to conduct any necessary environmental impact statements for the establishment of the Hawaii state ferry system.

RELATING TO RETAIL WHEELING (HB416)

Requires the public utilities commission to establish policies and procedures related to retail wheeling to enable independent power producers to sell electricity directly to end users.

RELATING TO ENERGY STORAGE (HB421)

Establishes an income tax credit for each independent energy storage property installed and placed in service during the taxable year beginning after December 31, 2015; provided that this tax credit shall not be available for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2025. Allows the tax credit to be claimed as either an investment credit or utilization credit. Appropriates funds to administer the tax credit.

RELATING TO CARE PROVIDERS (HB422)

Provides a general excise tax exemption for property owners who lease to assisted living providers and child care providers.

RELATING TO COTTAGE FOODS (HB408)

Provides an exemption from Department of Health rules to certain cottage food products sold directly to consumers under certain conditions. Requires the Department of Health to adopt rules no later than December 31, 2015.

RELATING TO GRANTS IN AID (HB424)

Guarantees a minimum of 10 per cent of grant in aid moneys to specifically address administrative and overhead costs to help stabilize income and increase fundraising.Lowering the cost of living

MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE HAWAII INNOVATION WAIVER TASK FORCE (HB404)

Appropriates funds to support the operations of the Hawaii Innovation Waiver Task Force for fiscal year 2016-2017.

RELATING TO HISTORIC PRESERVATION (HB405)

Exempts personal residences from automatic historic preservation review. Amends definition of “historic property.” Requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop a plan for implementation and completing a comprehensive inventory of historic buildings.

RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII (HB407)

Requires prior legislative approval for any proposed University of Hawaii tuition fee increase, before the increase can take effect.

RELATING TO AUDITING THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (HB410)

Mandates a periodic management and financial audit of the Public Utilities Commission by the State auditor.

RELATING TO THE AUDIT AUTHORITY OF THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (HB420)

Mandates a periodic audit of certain public utilities by the Public Utilities Commission for managerial, financial, and environmental compliance.

RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLE WEIGHT TAX REDUCTION (HB411)

Reduces the annual vehicle weight tax and maintains allocation of the tax to the state highway fund.

RELATING TO VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEE REDUCTION (HB417)

Reduces the vehicle registration fee and maintains allocation of the fee to the state highway fund and emergency medical services special fund.

RELATING TO THE GENERAL EXCISE TAX (HB419)

Provides a general excise tax exemption for food after December 31, 2019, and for medical services after December 31, 2017.Giving the government back to the people

RELATING TO CONTROVERSIAL PUBLIC SCHOOL CURRICULUM (HB406)

Makes permanent existing Board of Education policy by requires public schools to provide parents or legal guardians written advance notice of the instruction or provision of materials or activities that address controversial issues.

RELATING TO FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENTS (HB409)

Requires the office of the legislative analyst to create fiscal impact statements for certain bills that have a fiscal impact. Makes an appropriation to the office of the legislative analyst.

PROPOSING AMENDMENTS TO ARTICLES II, III, AND XVII OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF HAWAII TO PROVIDE FOR INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM, AND RECALL (HB418)

Amends the state constitution to provide for direct initiative, popular referendum, and recall.

PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE III, SECTION 15, OF THE HAWAII STATE CONSTITUTION TO ENACT A SUPERMAJORITY VOTING REQUIREMENT FOR PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION PROPOSING TO RAISE OR CREATE TAXES (HB423)

Proposes a constitutional amendment to include a two-thirds supermajority voting requirement for the legislature to pass laws that raise taxes or create new taxes.

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