Hawai‘i House Passes Bill to Disburse CARES Act Funds

May 19, 2020, 7:30 AM HST (Updated May 18, 2020, 8:42 PM)
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More than $1 billion in federal CARES Act funds will likely soon be disbursed to counties across Hawai‘i.

The Hawai‘i House of Representatives on Monday passed SB 75 SD2 HD1 to allocate $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding to provide benefits for county residents and to fund the state government’s health response during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic destruction.

The bill earmarks specific portions of the CARES Act funds to be distributed among the four counties to provide for their residents’ immediate needs such as food and rent support, and to give state departments specific funding for virus containment response needs such as airport screening, contact-tracing and the purchasing of personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals.

The state is looking to the counties to use the funds before they expire at the end of the year to provide families with basic living support programs, while the state deals with the larger financial issues.

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Based on the bill, counties will receive the following amounts:

  • Honolulu City & County, $387,176,021
  • Hawai‘i County, $80,009,671
  • Maui County, $66,598,757
  • Kaua‘i County, $28,715,021

Other funding in the bill includes:

  • $40 million for the Department of Defense for response activities
  • $36 million for the Department of Transportation for thermal screening at airports statewide
  • $1.3 million for the Department of Labor Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • $8.145 million for the Department of Labor for information technology, systems and staffing
  • $2 million for the Department of Human Services for EBT (food stamps) and SNAP technology services
  • $14 million for the Department of Health for outbreak and control, contact tracing, and PPE

The House also passed SB 3139 SD1 HD1 to transfer the remaining $635 million of the CARES Act money into the State’s Emergency Budget Reserve or “rainy day” fund to hold until a decision can be made in June how to best use the funds.

All $1.25 billion of CARES Act funds provided to Hawaiʻi must be spent by December 31, 2020.

In other action, the House passed the Supplemental Judiciary budget to include a proviso requiring detailed information on inmates who are being released from Hawaiʻi’s correctional centers to reduce crowding and limit inmates’ exposure to COVID-19.

The proviso calls for the Judiciary to submit a weekly report to the Legislature with the following information for all inmates released pursuant to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court in SCPW-20-0000200 and SCPW-20-0000213:

  • The inmate’s name
  • The inmate’s release date
  • The correctional center or facility where the inmate was released from
  • The inmate’s criminal status before release — for example, felony probationer, misdemeanant or petty misdemeanant
  • Any objections made to the inmate’s release
  • The inmate’s verified residence address at the time of release
  • The inmate’s current verified residence address or homeless status
  • The conditions of supervised release
  • The name of the person or agency that is responsible for supervising the inmate upon release
  • If a released inmate is subsequently arrested, the inmate’s arrest record following release

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki said there is growing concern that the Department of Public Safety and the Judiciary have now moved from releasing nonviolent offenders to releasing violent offenders.

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