The state House and Senate celebrated the opening day of the 28th Hawaii State Legislature with fanfare Wednesday.
Festivities in the Senate chamber included performances by Danny Kaleikini, Robert Cazimero, Marlene Sai, Debbie Nakanelua, Jeff Auhoy, Na Leo Pilimehana, Keauhou and Halau ka Liko pua o Kalaniakea.
Then it was time to get down to business.
In her opening remarks, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (D-Kapalama, Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens) highlighted several issues to be addressed this session, including the fight against invasive species and beach erosion.
“The energy and environment chair, (Sen.) Mike Gabbard (D-Kapolei, Makakilo), and I are proposing dedicated funding using existing TAT (transient accommodations tax) revenues for the maintenance and restoration of beaches across the state,” she said. “This bill would make available a steady source of funds to implement recommendations from a joint DLNR-county study and stay vigilant in preserving our marine environment.”
Over in the House chamber, Speaker Joseph Souki (D-Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu) focused on affordable healthcare and supporting Hawaii’s public hospitals.
“Maui Memorial and Hawaii Pacific Health are looking at a public-private partnership that could improve healthcare on Maui and generate savings for taxpayers,” he said. “It behooves us to study this opportunity carefully and look at legislation for this and other potential partnerships.”
Lawmakers say they also plan to address renewable energy and transit-oriented development.