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Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Republican Caucus: Legislative Session in Review
By Rep Andria Tupola @ 2:58 PM :: 5028 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Aloha mai!

The 2018 Legislative Session has come to a close. Close to 200 bills sit on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature. Among the bills that passed final reading is Rep. Cynthia Thielen's HB 1602 RELATING TO OPIOIDS. The bill will require the inclusion of a label warning about the risks of addiction and death on the packaging of any opioid drug dispensed by a health care professional or pharmacist.

This legislative session has been praised as "historical and progressive" by certain lawmakers, however, Rep. Gene Ward suggests that we tread lightly on calling it historical. The Star Advertiser reported that "legislature makes gradual progress" and Civil Beat deemed this session "the most progressive" but this session, our caucus prompted necessary debate on a number of measures.  This email includes a list of several notable bills that was heard this session.

Representative Gene Ward with Senate President Ron Kouchi, Speaker of the House Scott Saiki, and Kauai Representatives James Tokioka, Nadine Nakamura, and Majority Floor Leader Dee Morikawa, in the Senate Ways and Means and the House Finance Conference Committee.

Picture from Civil Beat.


Bill that pass Final Reading go to the Governor for consideration.

  • If the Governor signs the bill by July 10th (the 45th day after sine die), the bill becomes law.
  • If the Governor neither signs nor vetoes the bill by July 10th (the 45th day after sine die), the bill becomes law without the Governor's signature.
  • If the Governor intends to veto the bill, the Governor must inform the Legislature by June 25th (the 35th day after sine die) and deliver the veto by July 10th. If the bill is vetoed, it will not become law unless the Legislature successfully overrides the veto in special session by a 2/3 vote in each chamber. The Legislature must convene in special session at or before noon on July 10th to override the Governor's veto.

Information courtesy of LRB Hawaii.


HB2748 HD2 SD2 CD1 Appropriations for Housing Funds and Expanded GET Exemption for Affordable Housing Development PASSED. This bill appropriates over $200 million for various housing programs, including the Rental Housing Revolving Fund and the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund. It also expands the GET exemption for affordable housing development. This is a landmark bill, provided the funds are used wisely, that will go a long way toward increasing the stock of affordable housing in Hawaii. However, Rep. Ward expressed a few concerns about this bill - click here to view Rep. Ward's comments made on the floor.

HB 2739 HD1 Our Care, Our Choice Act. PASSED. Establishes the process to allow a mentally competent terminally ill patient to obtain life-ending medication. It was a lively discussion among representatives to ensure that sufficient safeguards were put in place to protect patients. Testimony was split in support and in opposition.  Those in favor of the bill testified about a patient's right to choose to die and the right to be free from pain and suffering at a time of their choosing.  The major concerns voiced by opponents were related to promoting a pro-suicide message, risks associated with a lack of system in place for returning unused medication and a lack of insurance coverage for the prescription. There were also concerns for patients that may suffer from temporary depression over a terminal diagnosis to not expedite their end of life with suicide.  The opportunity of elder abuse and coercion were also hot topics in testimony. 

SB3095 SD1 HD1 CD1 Chlorpyrifos Ban, Pesticide Reporting, and School Buffer Zone.PASSED. This bill bans chlorpyrifos pesticides after 1/1/2019, creates a buffer zone of 100 feet around schools where pesticides cannot be sprayed during instructional hours, and creates mandatory reporting requirements for those who use restricted use pesticides. Appropriates funds to DOAG to enforce compliance. This bill received huge support from environmental and health groups and quiet opposition from farmers and agricultural entities.

SB 2922 SD1 HD1 Constitutional Amendment Imposing Surcharge on Investment Real Property. PASSED. This amendment to the State Constitution creates a surcharge on investment real property and establishes a ballot question to be voted on by the people. Proponents of the amendment cited the need to improve Hawaii's education system, while critics pointed out potential rental cost increases, lack of a proposed tax rate, and potential reduction to existing general fund resources allotted to the Department of Education.

SB 2407 SD1 HD1 Medical Cannabis Study Group for Complex Cannabis Legal Issues.PASSED. The original bill allowed the use of medical cannabis to treat opioid use, substance use, and withdrawal symptoms resulting from the treatment of those conditions. The HD1 version instead establishes the Medical Cannabis Study Group to examine the legal issues regarding Hawaii's medical use of cannabis law, such as its use for substance abuse treatment, and other complex legal issues such as the state's compliance with federal law.

SB2046 SD1 HD1 Prohibiting Multiburst Trigger Activators. PASSED.  This bill bans "bump-fire stocks" like those used by the perpetrator of the October 2017 Las Vegas massacre. Proponents pointed out that so-called "bump stocks" are merely toys and aren't practical or necessary for exercising one's right to self-defense. Detractors were worried that the language in the original draft of this and related bills was too vague, and could unintentionally outlaw other perfectly-legal modifications. However, the final language passed was a compromise that contained some language suggested in testimony by a local Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder.

HB1401 HD1 SD1 CD1 Voting by Mail Pilot Program.  PASSED.  While several bills introduced this year to create a mandatory voting-by-mail system failed, another bill that stalled last year in Conference Committee was revived at the last minute. Prompted by the severe flooding that had recently devastated parts of Kauai, the new bill creates a pilot program limited only to the County of Kauai for an all-mail voting system starting in the 2020 primary and general elections.

SB2514 SD1 HD1 CD1 HD1 Online Marketplace Facilitator Tax. PASSED. This bill refines GET tax law to include online marketplace facilitators (e.g. Amazon, Etsy,, Ebay) as doing business in the State. It defines doing business in the State as having gross annual receipts of $100,000 or more attributable to Hawaii, or as having 200 or more transactions per year in Hawaii. Although it is currently in violation of US Constitutional law pending a decision on South Dakota v. Wayfair, which is due to have a Supreme Court opinion released in late June 2018, a decision favorable to State taxing power may be released before the bill goes into effect.

SB 2990 SD2 HD2 CD1 Implements a Study for Paid Family Leave Program.  PASSED.  There were several bills proposing the establishment of a paid family leave program this year.  Generally, the paid family leave bills that entered the conference period required the State to implement a Paid Family Leave Program by 2020, leaving the program model up to an implementation board. It also required a one-time comparative analysis and actuarial analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) by 2019.  During the conference period, this bill regressed into a tamer version, appropriating $350,000 to LRB for a "complete sunrise analysis" study by September 1, 2019 so that the State can understand the impact of a paid family leave program before choosing an implementation model that best fits Hawaii's unique demographic.  This study is to include a comparative analysis with Hawaii-based cost breakdowns and to explore options for compliance and enforcement and feasibility of additional support from DLIR.  

May 1, 2018 - Rep. Gene Ward comments on HB2748 Relating to Housing.


HB1768 HD2 SD2 CD1 Legislative Employee Salaries  FAILED. This bill would allow public inspection and duplication of salary ranges, for legislative employees in incremental amounts of $15,000, rather than exact compensation amounts. The minority caucus opposed this measure because it inadvertently permits inequitable pay for minority caucus staffers in comparison to their majority counterparts. The bill passed Final Reading in the House with all caucus members voting "no", but the Senate decided to recommit the bill to Conference Committee, ultimately killing the measure at the very end of this session. 

HB2601 HD1 SD2 CD2  Increases Surcharges for Rental and Tour Vehicles.  PASSED. This bill increases the rental motor vehicle surcharge from $3 to $5 for lessees without a valid Hawaii driver's license from the rental motor vehicle surcharge and increases the tour vehicle surcharge by $1 for each category of tour vehicle. It also requires that the revenues from the increase in motor vehicle surcharge tax be expended for state highway road capacity projects in the county in which the rental motor vehicle was operated under rental or lease.  Although this bill will increase county funds for road maintenance, this bill will negatively impact our local rental car business owners and have other unintended consequences. The passing of this measure will result in a forced fee-increase to tourists and other non-Hawaii driver’s license holders by our local car rental places, which will make our local car rental businesses less competitive and may decrease the amount of car renters in our islands as well.  Most importantly, the Attorney General submitted testimony warning that this measure could be subject to constitutional challenges because it arguably favors residents over nonresidents. Specifically, the AG's claimed that this measure potentially violates the Equal Protection Clause, which prohibits discrimination against a nonresident based solely on residency, and the Privileges and Immunities Clause, where a state may not impose higher taxes on a nonresident individual than it imposes on its own citizens.

On behalf of the minority caucus, mahalo to each of you for your support through this session. It is our honor and privilege to serve you. And if there is anything we can do for you, please reach out to any of our offices. Our contact information can be found on the capitol website. Don't forget to share this with your family and friends! Take care and God bless.


Andria Tupola

State House Representative, District 43

Minority Leader


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