A home you can afford. A Hawai‘i that’s healthy and safe. A good education and jobs that pay a living wage. Those are some of the goals Governor Ige committed to when he first took office. Now, those goals are becoming a reality with several bills the governor has signed into law and strides already made during the past four years. They signal major progress on affordable housing, environmental and consumer protection, and college opportunities and job training for the future.
BUILDING MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING
• Generating more than 10,000 housing units by 2020 – One of the governor’s top priorities — affordable housing for low- and middle-income families — received a major infusion of $200 million for the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation’s (HHFDC) Rental Housing Revolving Fund through HB 2748 (now Act 39). The measure also appropriates $10 million to HHFDC’s Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund (DURF), extends the general excise tax exemption for certain affordable rental housing projects, and increases the cap on GET exemptions to $30 million until 2030.
“Housing has been a top priority for my administration from day one,” said the governor. “We have been advocating for increased investment in the Rental Housing Revolving Fund for nearly four years now. I’m so glad the Legislature is funding these very important programs.” Since 2014, when Governor Ige took office, the state has completed 5,300 new homes statewide, including 2,000 affordable units. There are an additional 1,400 units under construction and another 4,000 in the planning phase.
PROTECTING HAWAI‘I’S ENVIRONMENT, ECONOMY AND CONSUMERS
• Three bills to combat climate change and protect the state from its devastating effects. The measures emphasize Hawai‘i’s leadership in fighting global warming and protecting the state for future generations. “This suite of bills establishes policies that address the reality of climate change we’re already seeing,” said the governor. The bills include HB 2182, which sets a goal to make Hawai‘i carbon neutral by 2045, HB 1986, which creates a framework for a carbon offset program, and HB 2106, which requires a sea level rise analysis in environmental impact statements.
• Hawai‘i also became the first state in the nation to enact a law banning pesticides containing chlorpyrifos. The governor signed SB3095, which calls for users of the pesticide to report annually to the state Department of Agriculture and applies restrictions around schools, until 2023 when it will be completely banned.
• A bill described as “a victory for Hawai‘i’s energy consumers” was signed by Governor Ige to align Hawaiian Electric’s business model with consumer interests and the state’s renewable energy goals. Known as the Hawai‘i Ratepayer Protection Act, it requires the Public Utility Commission to create a framework by Jan. 1, 2020 that ties electric utility revenues to metrics such as affordability of rates, renewables and customer options for managing costs. “The bottom line is that SB 2939 is a victory for the state’s energy consumers who will see more value for their hard-earned dollars,” said the governor.
PROVIDING MORE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY AND “KAULANA’S BILL”
• The governor signed HB 2501, which appropriates funding for the Hawai‘i Promise Program. “This makes it possible for everyone in our community to have access to a college education so they can increase their career earning potential,” he said. It provides scholarships to eligible UH community college students who pay what they can for tuition and other expenses with the state making up the difference.
• “Kaulana’s Bill,” SB 2582, was signed into law to authorize the courts to extend prison terms for offenders convicted of first-degree negligent homicide when the offender fails to render aid to the injured. It was named after Kaulana Werner, a former Kamehameha Schools football player, who was struck and killed by a car near his home in Nānākuli in April 2016. “I am signing this bill on behalf of the Werner family and all others who have tragically lost loved ones in this senseless manner,” said Governor Ige. “I hope this new law will hold offenders more accountable and potentially save lives.”