2014 Legislature Passes Many Impactful Bills


Direct from Donovan …Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

The 2014 legislative session is over, and the Hawaii State Legislature approved more than 135 bills, including the state supplemental budget, measures supporting kupuna, protecting the environment, and flagship bills raising minimum wage and funding the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement. The measures will now be sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for consideration.

The governor has 45 days from the date of adjournment (May 1) to sign or veto the bills. If no action is taken, the bills automatically become law on the 45th day.

If the governor intends to veto a particular bill, he has to give 10 days’ notice, so on the 35th day, the Legislature may convene to override the veto or let it veto stand.

Significant measures passed are those that will increase Hawaii’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over the next four years, and the tip credit that businesses can deduct is 75 cents; an agreement reached between the state of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, and Turtle Bay Resort to establish a conservation easement on 665.8 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku; and funding of aging, long-term care and investor education programs for kupuna.

I am pleased that the following two bills which I introduced were passed by the Legislature:

Senate Bill 2775 (Act 052) allows solar energy facilities on agricultural lands under certain conditions but prohibits them from interfering with farm operations and from causing more than a minimum adverse impact on the land.

At present, these facilities are prohibited on agricultural lands. Existing on these lands, however, are unused and often unimproved roads that are serving no useful purpose. This bill allows solar energy facilities to be placed on these unused roads and will help reduce energy costs for farmers.

Another bill I introduced at the request of city administration is Senate Bill 2420, SD1 (Act 018), which allows the state and counties to perform criminal history background checks on employees, prospective employees, volunteers and contractors whose positions allow them access to sensitive information, firearms for other than law enforcement purposes, and secured areas related to a traffic management center.

The bill also allows the counties to perform criminal history record checks prior to making an employment offer, and to be exempt from the 10-year look-back period, for prospective employees whose positions involve the handling or use of firearms for other than law enforcement purposes.

The Fiscal Biennium 2013-15 budget included funds for Central Oahu for agricultural land acquisition, school improvements, rehabilitation of bridges, irrigation system, an ambulance facility, and acquisition of land for the site of a first-responders technology campus and cyber security command center in Central Oahu.

Call state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, D-22nd District (Wahiawa, Whitmore, Mililani Mauka) at 586-6090 or email sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov.