Legislative Week in Review
From Hawaii Family Forum, June 27, 2020
The legislature reconvened on June 22, 2020 and will end on July 10, 2020. Here's a snapshot of some of the things that happened this week:
Budget Bill on Cares Act: PASSED FINAL
CARES Funding: SB 126 CD1 On to Governor
SB 126 CD1 (Relating to the State Budget) amends the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, Supplemental Improvements Act of 2020, Judiciary Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, and other measures affecting the fiscal biennium beginning 7/1/2019, and ending 6/30/2021. Appropriates funds designated for the State by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to: provide assistance to renters and homeowners; purchase and distribute personal protective equipment to hospitals, childcare facilities, elderly care facilities, businesses, non-profits, and schools; improve airport screening and health assurance security initiatives; support retraining and workforce development programs; provide grants to support the development of a supply chain for cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment; provide food assistance to families in need; support the commercial fishing industry; support public high school seniors who were adversely affected by school closures; and provide additional weekly unemployment benefits to eligible recipients; and other eligible programs as determined by the Governor. Transfers funds from the emergency and budget reserve fund into the general fund. Provides the Governor the option of using funds available in the Hawaii hurricane relief fund. (SB126 CD1)
On Friday, June 26, 2020, the bill passed both the House and Senate final votes.
Votes in the Senate:
yes, 24; Aye(s)
Votes in the House:
yes with reservations, 3; Representative(s) Okimoto, Say, Ward
Excused: Representative(s) Cabanilla Arakawa, Wildberger
Director of Health "Powers" Screening Bill: PASSED SENATE CPH
Opposition testimony overwhelms committee
A bill (HB 2502 SD1) to authorize the Director of Health, upon consultation with and authorization from the Governor, to screen, test, and monitor travelers has passed the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection & Health. Although there was tons of opposition testimony submitted, and the committee members themselves expressed concern, the bill nonetheless, passed with amendments.
In it's report, the committee found that "that the State's experience with the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for preparation, flexibility, and quick action in the face of ongoing or new risks presented by outbreaks of communicable or dangerous diseases in the State or in other parts of the world. The State has learned from experience that a screening process for travelers is a key component in the containment or mitigation of the spread of disease. This measure serves to enhance the tools available to the State in its effort to contain or mitigate the spread of communicable or dangerous diseases, to enable the use of these tools without a governor's emergency proclamation, and to make the containment or mitigation effort more efficient and flexible to protect the public health and safety. Furthermore, your Committee finds that the contents of this measure do not mandate universal immunization." (Read full committee report)
Here's how the committee amended the measure by adopting the proposed S.D. 1 and further amending the measure by:
Clarifying that the Director of Health may declare a public health emergency only after consulting with and obtaining authorization from the Governor;
Specifying administrative rulemaking deadlines for the Department of Health;
Deleting language that would have allocated transient accommodations tax revenues into the travelers screening special fund;
Inserting language that repeals the statutory prohibitions on the use of telephone services as part of tele-health coverage, under certain conditions;
Inserting an effective date of July 1, 2050, to encourage further discussion; (this forces a conference committee with members of both the house and senate)
Inserting a sunset date of June 30, 2025, for certain provisions;
Making technical, non-substantive amendments for the purposes of clarity and consistency.
On Thursday, June 25, the committee on CPH recommended that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes in CPH were as follows:
4 Aye(s): Senator(s) Baker, Nishihara, L. Thielen; Aye(s) with reservations: Senator(s) Ruderman ;
3 Excused: Senator(s) S. Chang, Wakai, Fevella.
STATUS: The bill will now move to the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
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UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE DEADLINES
- June 30, 2020 (Tuesday): Deadline for transmittal of final form of Constitutional Amendments to the Governor
- July 2, 2020 (Thursday): Filing deadline for Second Decking. Last day to deck bills that were amended by the receiving (non-originating) body.
- July 8, 2020 (Wednesday): Second Crossover for bills. Last day for Third Reading of bills that were amended by the receiving (nonoriginating) body.
- July 10, 2020 (Friday): Adjournment Sine Die.
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FAITH IN POLITICS: YOUTUBE
With the partnership of KALO TV, Hawaii Family Forum is now providing a weekly 1/2 television show called, "Faith in Politics." You can:
- watch online at KALO TV,
- watch on Spectrum 1025 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
- watch on Hawaiian Telecom Channel 1038 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
- You can also watch on YouTube KALO TV.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL VIDEOS on the Hawaii Family Forum website.
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FROM AROUND THE NATION
U.S. Department of State Releases 2019 International Religious Freedom Report
2019 Report Released
From the FPA Network | North Carolina Family Policy Council
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State made the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report available. The yearly report, required by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, outlines the status of religious freedom in every country and how U.S. policies work to advocate for religious freedom across the globe. To produce this report, U.S. embassies compiled information from government officials, religious groups, journalists, human rights monitors, academics, and others to produce drafts of country chapters. Then, the Office of International Religious Freedom gathered and examined additional information, pulling from a variety of sources.
In a press meeting announcing the release of the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo declared, "There is no other nation that cares so deeply about religious freedom," since the United States has taken the time to examine and compile a report on religious freedom. Secretary Pompeo remarked on the optimistic developments in countries such as Gambia, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan. But he also noted that there is a long way to go in strengthening religious freedom around the world.
During the same press meeting, Ambassador Sam Brownback, the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, reported on countries where religious freedom is undermined, including China, Iran, and Nigeria. He proclaimed, "We must continue to build partnerships and alliances with nations who share our commitment to advance religious freedom around the world, and we must continue our efforts to stop bad actors."
Ambassador Brownback also praised the efforts of the Trump Administration to defend religious freedom. Last year, the U.S. Department of State helped establish the international Abrahamic Faiths Initiative that strives for peace between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Secretary Pompeo started the International Religious Freedom Alliance, becoming "the first-ever U.S. Secretary of State to organize an international coalition at a national leadership level to push the issue of religious freedom forward around the world." And this month, President Donald Trump issued an executive order, which calls on the U.S. government to prioritize international religious freedom.
As Ambassador Brownback declared, "The importance of advancing religious freedom cannot be overstated. It must extend to all areas of our foreign policy..."