From civil rights and gun safety to the January 6 attack on our nation’s Capitol, the political divide hasn’t left much room for civil discourse. But in Hawaiʻi we’ve found ways to work together as a community—whether it’s surviving the pandemic or passing legislation that takes us in the right direction. I’ve highlighted a few bills that I signed recently into law and why they matter.
On June 22, I signed two bills to give some relief to Hawaiʻi residents hit hard by the pandemic. SB 514 provides a tax refund of $300 per person to filers who earn less than $100,000 a year and $100 per person to tax filers who earn more than $100,000 a year. The rebates also apply for each dependent. The Department of Taxation anticipates it will begin issuing the rebates the last week of August, and the majority of payments will be sent out by the end of October. I also signed HB2510, which will raise the current state minimum wage of $10.10 to $12 this October and $18 per hour by 2028. The same bill also extends and makes permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit to help Hawaiʻi’s working families.
Gun violence prevention has never been more urgent in the United States than it is right now. With the signing of HB2075, I was able to restore part of a previous gun law struck down by a federal court last year. Hawaiʻi has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in America, and this new law is key in helping law enforcement keep our communities safe. The new law requires the physical, in-person inspection of three categories of firearms identified by county police chiefs as top threats to public safety: guns that do not have serial numbers (also known as ghost guns); guns brought to Hawaiʻi from out of state; and guns transferred between private individuals.
On this year’s international World Oceans Day, I signed five bills to better protect Hawaiʻi’s natural resources. These bills support my administration’s commitment to effectively manage the State’s near shore waters, with 30% established as marine management areas by the year 2030. SB 2768 directs the Department of Land and Natural Resources to administer a program of training opportunities in natural resource management, agriculture, and other sustainability-related professions for young adults aged 26 and younger. The other bills include: HB 1653 that establishes a tiered fine system for aquatic life that is taken, killed, or injured; SB 3330 which authorizes a three-year pilot program to assess the threats to marine life in the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District; SB 2767 which provides funds for fish aggregation devices used as an important resource for sustainable fisheries; and SB 204 that authorizes the use of in-lieu fee mitigation to preserve aquatic habitats.
I want to thank the Hawaiʻi island legislators for their hard work this past session. Together, with your help, we are changing the trajectory of Hawaiʻi for generations to come.
David Y. Ige