Faith Action News for April 17-18

EARTH DAY

In observation of Earth Day, the public is invited to a free showing of “2020:  The Year of Climate Extremes.”  Faith Action’s Environmental Justice Task Force is organizing this online event, which will start at 5:00 p.m. on April 22.  The movie will be followed by a discussion.  Of course, everything will be done online.  For further information, including a link to the event, visit:  https://www.faithactionhawaii.org/post/earth-day

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE of Faith Action’s Task Forces

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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