MAY 4, 2019


Minimum Wage Hike Bill Deferred to Next Year

Hawaii lawmakers deferred to next year a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023. The bill made it to second reading before failing to advance. The last minimum wage bill to pass was in 2014.

House Bill 1191 would have boosted the minimum wage for private employers by $1.80 — Hawaii’s current minimum wage is $10.10 per hour — to $12 as of Jan. 1, 2020.

The bill would have also provided a tax credit for small businesses to offset the cost of the increased wages.

Raise Up Hawaii Coalition issued a statement: “Raise Up Hawai’i is deeply disappointed that the Legislature failed to increase the minimum wage this year.

“Local families are often forced to work two or three jobs to survive because of our state’s exorbitant cost of living, effectively the highest in the nation. Not enacting a living wage this year only increases the urgency of doing so next year.

“Hawaii’s most economically vulnerable workers and their families, including thousands of children, will continue to suffer from the lack of a minimum wage that meets the state’s own self-sufficiency standard of $17 an hour. $10.10 an hour does NOT allow our families to meet basic needs, as evidenced by the suffering on the streets.”

The bill received opposition by several business groups as the Hawaii Restaurant Association, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Retail Merchants of Hawaii, and the Hawaii Food Industry Association.

Sherry Menor-McNamara, President & CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, said “We appreciate and thank our legislators for the hard work and thoughtfulness put forth on this issue. Our members recognize that employees are a big part of what make their businesses a success and do everything they can to take care of them and retain them through both wages and benefits.

“Living wage is a complex issue with no singular answer. We need to continue to work together to come up with solutions that address our high cost of living, lack of available and affordable housing and reliance on imported goods and energy.”


Bail Reform Bill to Address Jail Overcrowding Passes

A landmark house bill (HB 1552 HD2 SD2 CD1) designed to take a thorough look at our system of handling people who are arrested and incarcerated passed. The bill seeks to address overcrowded jails and bring equity to our system of bail.

Rep. Gregg Takayama (Pearl City, Waimalu, Pacific Palisades), Chair of the House Public Safety, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, said the reform is long overdue.

“This measure will help create safer, smarter and more transparent systems of corrections and criminal justice in Hawaii,” said Rep. Takayama.

Some of the bill’s features include: establishing a Hawai?i Correctional System Oversight Commission (the Commission is responsible for helping transition to a more effective rehabilitative and therapeutic correctional system, investigating complaints, and examining best practices in other systems) and implement recommendations of the Criminal Pretrial Task Force.

Some of the recommendations are to expedite the bail process by requiring risk assessments and bail reports be prepared within three days of admission to a community correctional center (there is currently no time requirement on bail reports) and to ensure the right to a prompt bail hearing: require that a bail hearing occur at time of a defendant’s arraignment or as soon as practicable.

The bill also establishes a Criminal Justice Institute within the office of the Chief Justice. The bill is effective July 1, 2019. Most bail provisions will be effective January 1, 2020.

The bill now moves to the full House and Senate for a final vote.


Legislature Passes Two Measures to Help Prevent Youth Suicides

The Hawaii State Legislature has passed two measures to prevent and bring awareness to youth suicides. Suicide was the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Hawaii youth from 2013 to 2017.

HB655 HD1 SD1 designates September as “Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month” to promote public awareness regarding suicide prevention and education, resources, and support available to individuals, families, and communities.

HB330 HD1 SD1 CD1 appropriates $150,000 to the Department of Health to support youth suicide early intervention, prevention, and education initiatives in all counties focusing on youth between the ages of 10 through 24.

Both bills advance to Governor David Ige for approval or veto.

“It is critical that we bring awareness to suicide as a public health issue, and work to educate and support individuals, families, and communities in the state,” said Representative Nadine K. Nakamura, vice chair of the Human Services & Homelessness Committee and introducer of HB330.

Suicide rates are higher among young people, especially from the neighbor islands and rural communities, and alarmingly high among Hawai?i’s LGBTQ youth,” said Rep. Nakamura (Hanalei, Princeville, K?lauea, Anahola, Kapa?a, Wailua).

The Prevent Suicide Hawai?i Taskforce’s 2018 report to the Legislature found that the rate of suicide deaths in Hawai?i has been increasing, especially during the past 10 years. The Taskforce found that between 2012-2016, suicide was the number one cause of fatal injuries of people ages 15-44 in Hawai?i, and the number one cause of fatal injuries among all Hawai?i residents.

On O?ahu, 66 youth for every 100,000 people die as a result of suicide; on Maui it is 86 per 100,000; on Kaua?i it is 92, and on Hawai?i Island it is 117.

House Majority Leader Representative Della Au Belatti said, “To prevent suicide, we need to bring awareness to the problem and must allocate adequate resources to support education and early intervention,” said Rep. Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papak?lea, McCully, P?wa‘a, M?noa). “We know access to health care resources, including mental health services, can be significantly more challenging for residents on the neighbor islands than on O?ahu. The Legislature is committed to providing funding to close this gap.”


Isabelleza Tabios Chosen as 2019 Childhood Immunization Champion Award for Hawaii

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) and the Hawai‘i Immunization Coalition (HIC) congratulate medical assistant, Isabelleza Kris Tabios, for receiving the 2019 Childhood Immunization Champion Award for Hawai‘i.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) recognized Ms. Tabios for her significant contribution to improving public health through her work in childhood immunization.

“Ms. Tabios’ knowledge of the complex childhood immunization schedule makes her a strong immunization advocate and educator,” said Ron Balajadia, DOH Immunization Branch chief. “She is always willing to share her knowledge with others and serves as a resource to the physicians and staff she works with. Childhood immunization champions like Ms. Tabios increase immunizations in our state, helping to protect children, families and communities, and saving lives.”

The CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award, announced annually during National Infant Immunization Week (April 27-May 4), recognizes one individual from each of the 50 U.S. states, eight U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia for their efforts to improve public health through childhood immunizations.

Honorees are evaluated based on their leadership, collaboration, innovative strategies and advocacy efforts to support immunization activities in their communities.

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