Faith Action Bills Still Alive, Midpoint of Legislative Session
By Evie Hao, FA Communications Committee member
The state legislature has completed the crossover of bills that survived one house and now will be considered by the other house. Faith Action has supported the following bills through testimonies and phone calls. As of this date, March 21, 2022, they are still alive.
- Transformative Justice Task Force (TJTF): Co-chairs Lee Curran, Kylie Akiona
House Bill 1567 on cash bail eliminates the use of monetary bail for certain nonviolent offenses and requires defendants to be released on their own recognizance until appearing in court. Currently, those who cannot afford the bail (the poor) are jailed. They cannot work or take care of family– and the downward spiral for that family begins. “We recognize that cash bail doesn’t create true safety for the community. We are incarcerating thousands of folks who have not been convicted of a crime at the expense of community well-being and millions of tax dollars a year,” says Lee. For more information, go to https://www.faithactionhawaii.org/transformative-justice.
- HousingNOW! Task Force: Chair Calvin Foo Pham
Many housing bills are still alive. FA has given testimony in support of HB 1752 HD3 which creates incentives for reluctant landlords to accept low income renters who qualifiy for federal Section 8 vouchers that help with the rent. The incentives include cash for repair costs that exceed security deposit. It also gives landlords one month rent reimbursement when a unit transitions to a new Section 8 renter and also when an incoming Section 8 renter takes over a leaving Section 8 renter’s unit. “The ‘carrot’ is a positive approach that may, over time, eliminate stigma (of Section 8) among property owners,” says Foo. However, he stresses more work is needed in the bill “that would include language preventing discrimination by source of income,” thereby opening opportunity for low income families to find a home.
- Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF): Chair Susan Gorman-Chang
The Carbon Cashback House Bill 2278 aims to help in reaching Hawaii’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2045. 1)A fee is placed on fossil fuel coming into Hawaii to reduce its consumption; 2) This leads to reduced greenhouse gas emissions. 3)Money collected from the fee is given to Hawaii’s residents in equal shares. The Tax Review Commission set up by the governor had recommended this tax; the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) study shows that this tax benefits families of all levels of income, especially those at the lowest. Susan says, “Mahalo for EVERYONE’s support of HB 2278 and everyone’s hard work crafting, meeting, educating, advocating and everything we all did to get it this far!“