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Hawaiʻi County Council approves proposals and priorities for 2023 State Legislature

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The state Capitol in Honolulu. The Hawai‘i County Council approved a resolution Wednesday during its regular session that lays out legislative priorities it wants to see included in the 2023 legislative package of the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties. File photo.

When the Hawai‘i State Legislature convenes for its 2023 session in just a few months, it will have a package of legislative proposals and priorities that was put together by the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties.

The Hawai‘i County Council is making sure its voice is heard as part of that package.

Heather Kimball

Council members on Wednesday approved Resolution 583, which lays out the Council’s four legislative priorities:

  • Legislation related to increasing the availability of affordable housing and infrastructure on lands administered by the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.
  • Legislation related to workforce development for civil service and green job positions.
  • Legislation related to wastewater infrastructure funding and programs to assist in the conversion of cesspools.
  • Legislation that will increase the availability of mental health and substance abuse services.
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Resolution 583 also outlines four legislative proposals the Council wants to see advanced during the 2023 legislative session:

  • A draft House resolution to have the state Department of Health adopt rules for discharge pollutants.
  • A draft bill for an act relating to preemption and the regulation of tobacco products. The purpose of the proposal is to reauthorize the counties to enact restrictions on the sale of tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices.
  • A draft bill for an act relating to preemption and the regulation of tobacco products. The purpose of this proposal is to add a sunset date for the section of Act 206, the same measure discussed above, that deals with the state regulating the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products.
  • A draft bill for an act relating to traffic fines. The purpose of the proposal is to clarify that the counties may, by ordinance, designate county highways where the stopping, standing or parking of vehicles is restricted or prohibited.

Each county submits a list of items in bill format or as legislative priorities to be considered by the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties executive committee as part of the package and then the package is returned to each county for review.

“So we’ll have a second chance to review all of these,” Councilwoman Heather Kimball, who introduced the measure, said during Wednesday’s regular council meeting.

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Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz said the legislative package put forward in the resolution includes important issues to the County and provides more home rule, making sure the Council has the ability to address challenges that might be different from the other counties.

“It just speaks to things that we care about — public health, safety of our community, of the environment,” Kierkiewicz said.

Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy appreciates the nod to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands in the resolution. The department received $600 million from the Legislature this year to tackle housing and create a multi-pronged approach to eliminate its waitlist.

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“One of the concerns that has come up is $600 million sounds like a lot, but infrastructure costs, wastewater, roads, water, power, those things are really expensive,” Lee Loy said. “So if there are ways for other counties to kind of meet them with some of the infrastructure costs to help the department realize housing and reduce not only the waitlist but possibly those in homeless or near homeless situations would be a wonderful springboard for them.”

Among other business Wednesday, the County Council:

Image from the Kapa Radio Facebook page.
  • Approved Resolution 559, which supports the relocation of Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center to an area that would provide more space for the state Department of Public Safety to accommodate the proper expansion of the facility and better support the needs of inmates and employees.
  • Approved the first reading of Bill 212, which would change the name of Pāhoa District Park to William “Billy” Kenoi Park in honor of former Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi. The measure requires approval of one more reading before being adopted. A celebration is planned for 11:30 a.m. Nov. 9 at the park, during which new signage will be unveiled. Refreshments and entertainment will follow remarks. Those who want to attend are encouraged to RSVP by clicking here.
  • Approved the second and final reading of Bill 210, which adds the construction of a new gym in Pāpaʻaloa and improvements to the park and existing facility to the county’s Capital Budget. The projects would come at a total price tag of $10 million, which would be paid for with general obligation bonds, capital projects funds and/or other sources and state grant money.
  • Approved the second and final reading of Bill 218, which would appropriate $95,481 from the federal block grants account to the first phase of an improvement project for the Hāmākua Youth and Community Center.
Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, starting out as a reporter and working his way up to become a copy editor and page designer, most recently at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo.
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