HONOLULU (KHON2) — The start of the year means lawmakers will soon be convening at the state capitol to pass what could be a new set of laws for the islands.
The new legislative session will begin on January 15, and lawmakers say they’ve been busy preparing and creating new bills over the last few months.
One of the biggest issues lawmakers are looking to tackle in 2020 is cost of living in Hawaii.
One potential solution they are looking into is giving people more tax credits.
“The food tax credit may be $110, and so we could look at that going up higher. To really help people, we could look at a thousand dollar credit for low-income renters,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti, House Majority Leader.
Another problem she said they’re hoping to address is how to help people in our state with substance abuse issues.
“[Things like] more funding for outreach, making sure that the systems that we have in place for people can you know go through that due process, but also [getting] the help that they need if they’re incapable of taking care of themselves,” said Rep. Au Belatti.
Along with handling substance abuse, lawmakers are also looking at what can be done to stop youth vaping.
“The first is a flavor ban, so banning all flavors including menthol in the state of Hawaii. The second is to essentially put a tax on vaping products,” said Rep. Scot Matayoshi, who represents Kaneohe.
He also wants to increase the fine for minors caught with an e-cigarette, and add penalties such as smoking cessation classes and community service. The current fine is only $10.
“What we’re trying to do right now is nip it in the bud. We’re trying to take this addictive substance and make it unavailable to kids,” said Rep. Matayoshi.
Additional issues lawmakers say they want to address include the high price of prescription drugs and access to healthcare.