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2021 Legislative Update

The 2021 legislative session will end on April 29. In its final weeks, we review which

bills remain alive. Faith Action, along with many other community organizations, had

high hopes before the session began to make progress on affordable housing and

environmental justice. However, most of those hopes have faded, and many

community organizations have been disappointed.


HousingNOW! And Environmental Justice

Faith Action had endorsed several major bills, such as Sen. Stanley Chang’s A.L.O.H.A

Homes bill that would develop tens of thousands of homes on State land to be leased at

truly affordable prices to Hawaii’s residents (SB 1 and HB 607). Faith Action also

endorsed the carbon fee and dividend model (SB 311 and HB 134), which would reduce

fossil fuel emissions, while having financial benefits to low-income households.

Those measures, however, have died.


Subsequently, Faith Action’s Environmental Justice and Housing NOW! Task Forces

decided to support several bills that were still alive, but more modest in nature. These

surviving bills included parts consistent with the “big idea” bills that Faith Action

originally endorsed.


The Housing NOW! Task Force supported the following:

•SB 733 designated affordable housing to be built on all State-owned land within one

mile of any rail station.

• SB 40 required housing developed by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development

Corporation to be occupied by the owners, who must be Hawaii residents who own no

other real property. Furthermore,

•SB 33 required each county to create a housing supply plan to accommodate the

increased demand for housing.


Unfortunately, of all the bills supported by Housing NOW!, the only bill still alive (as of

April 10) is SB 2, which facilitates the development of public lands for affordable

housing.


The Environmental Justice Task Force supports the following bills and a resolution still

alive as of April 10:

•SB 1401 requires new infrastructure for ground transportation to be more

environmentally sustainable.

•SB 1402 requires the State to adopt a plan for ground transportation that emphasizes

bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

•SCR44 declares a climate emergency and urges immediate action to address climate

change.


After the legislative session ends, the Environmental Justice Task Force will issue a

scorecard to let the public know to what degree each State legislator supported

environmental bills.


Long-Term Care Task Force

The Long-Term Care Task Force supports SB 838, which provides the Executive Office

on Aging with greater flexibility to help kupuna caregivers. This bill is still alive as of

April 10.


During the 2021 legislative session the Legislature seems to have directed most of its

attention and energy toward the effect of Covid-19 on the economy and the State

budget. As a result, the Legislature didn’t do much about other issues – critical though

they might be. Faith Action will continue to pursue issues of critical importance to the

people of Hawaii and is already thinking about the 2022 legislative session.

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