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State House Majority freshmen highlight several bills that have crossed over to Senate

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The newest members of the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives have some bold ideas to help residents of the state, many of which are included in measures that have now crossed over to the state Senate for further consideration this legislative session.

The Hawaiʻi House of Representatives Majority freshmen class came together Thursday, March 23, to share their experiences since being elected. The group also shared highlights of several bills that have crossed over to the state Senate and their personal experiences serving in office settling in at the Capitol in Honolulu. They were joined during a news conference by House leadership, including Speaker Scott Saiki, pictured at far right. Photo Credit: Hawaiʻi House of Representatives.

The House Majority freshmen class came together Thursday to discuss their experiences since being elected. The group also shared highlights of several bills that crossed over and their personal experiences serving in office settling in at the Capitol in Honolulu.

This year, the House welcomed 18 new members, the largest class the Legislature has seen in 28 years. Fourteen of those members belong to the House Majority, which is comprised of 45 Democrats.

“Our first-term lawmakers are driven, focused and have added so much to the legislature,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki. “The future of our state is standing here with me today. They all bring different perspectives to the House, and truly represent the residents of Hawaiʻi.”

A total of 55 bills introduced by the House Majority freshmen have crossed over so far. The first-term lawmakers highlighted six measures during Thursday’s news conference.


House Bill 275 HD1 would appropriate funds to the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture to provide grants to assist taro farmers in meeting the costs of cultivating taro for consumption.

“HB275 was the culmination of legislation proposed last year,” said Rep. Darius K. Kila. “Our farmers need help, and we must stand behind our local industries.”

House Bill 278 HD1 SD1 would provide funds for the Hawaiʻi Executive Office on Aging to create an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias public health campaign.

“Alzheimer’s disease robs people of their memories — precious moments that we all cherish and connect us to our loved ones,” said Rep. Cory Chun. “This bill will help families of individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s disease by providing a public awareness campaign to let them know that there are community resources, innovative treatments, and most of all hope.”


House Bill 413 HD1 SD1 would provide matching funds for the Hawaiʻi Department of Human Resources Development to retain the services of an online employment marketplace or networking platform to assist in recruiting employees for the state.

“Retaining the services of an online employment marketplace is a low-cost way to address the high number of vacancies in state government, especially for those hard-to-fill positions,” said Rep. Andrew Takuya Garrett. “Rather than waiting for prospective job seekers to come to us, we would be better served going to them.”

House Bill 581 HD2 SD1 would require certain individuals attempting to serve as child custody evaluators to complete a training course every three years on the dynamics of domestic violence.

Family Court can appoint a child custody evaluator from a list of qualified individuals to investigate a custody dispute now, but according to Rep. Rachele Lamosao, the state lacks requirements to ensure evaluators go through comprehensive training on domestic violence.


“As a mother who shares custody of my child, I know custody disputes can be an arduous and difficult process, especially for families in extremely vulnerable and dangerous situations where violence may be involved,” Lamosao said. “It is imperative that we do our best to ensure the system that is supposed to protect children and families does exactly that. High rates of domestic violence exist in families referred for child custody evaluations.”

House Bill 619 HD2 would establish an income tax credit for qualified farms that donate eligible food products or prepared food to food banks or food pantries.

“HB619 will benefit Hawaiʻi’s small farmers and those facing food insecurity in our state by providing tax relief to farmers and healthy nutritious foods to nonprofit food banks,” said Rep. Mahina Poepoe. “It is a win-win situation for everyone.”

House Bill 899 HD2 would designate September as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Month to promote public awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome costs the state nearly $1 billion per year.

“The passage of HB899 to promote public awareness of [Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder] will save lives, prevent untold future human suffering and open the opportunity for Hawaiʻi to receive over $100 million in federal funding for medical services,” said Rep. Terez Amato.

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