Legislative Session Report

This year's session was full of drama if not results.  We were fortunate to have Senator Kai Kahele give us a timely report on this year's ups ad downs.
Starting in the third week of January and ending the first week in May, the constitution provides 60 days to race through over 2000 bills.  Last session was Kai's first session-- a deer in the lights.  This year, now able to find the restrooms, Kai felt more comfortable and confident.  He served as Senate chair of Higher Education Committee, which was appropriate for him as an alumnus of UH.  He also served on the powerful Ways & Means Committee.  Of the nearly 2600 bills introduced this session, approximately 220 passed.
 
Disappointingly, what did not pass was the bill for Banyan Drive and Kanoelehua Industrial to provide a means to extend the leases for those State properties and create an economic district to redevelop those areas.  The Rat lung bills also did not pass as proposed, but did have funds appropriated to DOH rather than the preferred UHH, where the research has been conducted.  Both the economic district and rat lung bills can come back next year since both made it to conference committee.  The Clift Tsuji Act did pass related to biosecurity.  The grant in aid passed for Paula's HIAC!!  The bills to regulate AirBnB type of vacation units did not pass.  One side of the philosophical divide wants to stem the impact on affordable housing and capture TAT and GET taxes estimated at $25-38M, while the other side believes collecting those taxes legitimizes illegal units.
 
The end of the session was crazy.  The Ways & Means chair lost her seat.  The House speaker resigned.  The House and Senate deadlocked on Honolulu's rail system.  There has not yet been any determination whether to call a special session.  Donovan Dela Cruz is the new Ways & Means chair, with whom Kai aligns philosophically.  Kai feels fortunate to have been selected as majority whip to serve as one of eight in leadership position.  The House seems more Oahu-centric.  They seem to have a sense that Oahu subsidizes the neighbor islands.