Lawmakers Hope to Increase Minimum Hourly Wage During 2022 Legislative Session
* Updated January 20, 6:14 AM
The 2022 Legislative Session kicked off Wednesday, Jan. 19.
During his opening speech, House Speaker Scott K. Saiki noted several pieces of legislation that will be addressed during the session. Among those is increasing the hourly minimum wage to $18. Along with that, there are bills that increase the food tax credit and make the Earned Income Tax Credit refundable and permanent.
“This year, the House is proposing unprecedented legislation that, taken together, will help over 100,000 households, provide homes, and restore cultural practices that ordinary people have fought for, and even died for, throughout their lives,” Saiki stated in his speech.
Saiki said this package will give a family an additional $33,600 in income. But we know that wages alone will not lift working families. Families cannot afford housing and need help.
In his opening speech, Saiki stated the House would appropriate $600 million to enable beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homelands trust to acquire their own homes.
“It is time to give the Department of Hawaiian Homelands the resources it needs to fulfill its fiduciary duty,” Saiki said.
Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Ailā, Jr. called the intent toward implementation of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act would be a historic infusion of resources to address the needs of potentially thousands of beneficiaries on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Waiting List.
“DHHL continues to be open to all measures that would return native Hawaiians to the land, as intended by Prince Kūhiō,” Ailā stated. “We appreciate this legislature for hearing our calls for funding and their commitment to fulfilling the state’s obligation to our community.”
Saiki said the House will also expand community-based efforts to restore fish ponds and loʻi; repatriate cultural artifacts; teach financial literacy; and provide cultural training to the military.
Related to this is the issue of tourism management, Saiki noted.
“We need to take action now before our visitor count again reaches 10 million,” he stated. “We need to better incorporate culture into tourism because by doing so, this will also protect our natural resources. We will do this by relying on initiatives and organizations that can assist the Hawaii Tourism Authority.”
Last year, the House created a working group to propose a new governance structure for Mauna Kea. As a result, the House will advance a proposal that will create a management structure that will care for Mauna Kea above the 6,500-foot elevation line, through an integrated culturally and environmentally-conscious approach.