Hawaii News

Several bills relating to kūpuna, people with disabilities, language access signed into law

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Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green on Friday continued signing bills into law, this time measures meant to strengthen protections for kūpuna and those living with disabilities, support caregivers and provide funding for state departments and agencies that offer services and educational programs for elderly and disabled residents.

Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green speaks July 7 during a signing ceremony at the state Capitol in Honolulu, during which he signed several bills supporting kūpuna and people with disabilities and expanding language access. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Green’s office)

“These measures covering important issues such as disability access to programs and services, language access for those involved in the court system and shoring up resources for our seniors are key to assuring a healthy and strong community,” said state Sen. Henry Aquino of Oʻahu, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, in a press release.

State Rep. John Mizuno of Oʻahu, chairman of the House Committee on Human Services, said vision, being bold, having compassion and loving ʻohana define Friday’s bill signings.

“Our efforts also show that we’re not going to be Oʻahu-centric when it comes to improving services for disabilities, we are taking care of all islands,” Mizuno said in the press release.

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Green specifically mentioned House Bill 278 in his remarks during the signing ceremony. The measure creates a statewide campaign to educate the public about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

“In Hawaiʻi, about 29,000 residents who are 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s, and I know from family experience that it can be extremely challenging,” Green said in the press release, also noting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on July 6 granted full approval for an Alzheimer’s drug for the first time in more than 20 years. “So we are making progress and we are grateful for everyone who is helping to fight the fight.”

The other bills Green signed Friday were:

  • House Bill 870: This measure requires the Hawaiʻi Department of Human Services to establish a neighbor islands blind and visually impaired service pilot program that supplements existing statewide services by providing training and other services to neighbor island residents who are blind or visually impaired. It also requires the department to establish a working group to develop an implementation plan for the pilot program and submit that plan to the state Legislature before its 2024 regular session.
  • House Bill 388: This bill adopts the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard and requires the Hawaiʻi Department of Education to obtain instructional materials in accessible formats for eligible students.
  • Senate Bill 1378: SB1378 clarifies that any person, corporation or entity is prohibited from knowingly referring or transferring patients to an uncertified or unlicensed care facility and repeals the landlord exclusion.
  • House Bill 218: HB218 requires certain pharmacies to provide accessible prescription drug label information to people who have difficulty seeing or reading standard printed labels on prescription drug containers and inform the public that prescription drug label information is available in alternate accessible formats for those who have difficulty seeing or reading prescription drug container labels. It also requires the Board of Pharmacy to adopt certain rules by Dec. 31, 2024.
  • House Bill 794: This measure designates October as Disability Awareness Month: Employment, Enrichment and Inclusion in recognition of the employment challenges and successes of people with disabilities in Hawaiʻi.
  • House Bill 834: This bill recognizes American Sign Language as a fully developed, autonomous, natural language with its own grammar, syntax, vocabulary and cultural heritage.
  • House Bill 933: HB933 appropriates funds to the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission to provide free telecommunications access to certain information for people with a print disability.
  • Senate Bill 813: Beginning in 2026 and every three years thereafter, SB813 requires the Hawaiʻi Judiciary to conduct a study on interpreter fees.
  • Senate Bill 900: This measure requires the Executive Office on Aging to submit to the Legislature annual progress reports on the Hawaiʻi State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
  • Senate Bill 1373: This bill clarifies the allowable revenues to be deposited into the Executive Office on Aging administrative claiming special fund and the purposes for which the fund can be used.
  • Senate Bill 1592: This measure appropriates funds for the establishment of three additional program specialists within the Executive Office on Aging for the state’s Senior Medicare Patrol Program.
  • House Bill 1081: HB1081 clarifies the penalty to be assessed on any person who intentionally operates a care facility without a certificate or license.
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