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Notes from our Legislative Session held on Feb 18, 2012

March 2, 2012

 Notes from Legislative Session – February 18, 2012

Senator Gil Kahele, Representative Mark Nakashima, Representative Clifton Tsuji

1) Medicare part B reimbursement:          Rep. Mark Nakamura on Medicare Part B reimbursement

Not in jeopardy this session-it is election year

Concern is that new hires are getting less and less

Presently there are 4 tiers with 4 different retirement benefit packages

2) Pension Tax:     None at this time

3) COLA    Rep. Mark Nakashima:

HB 517 didn’t pass last year but discussed COLA with ERS

4) Losing Health Benefits     Sen. Gil Kahele:

Unfunded liabilities still concern and how EUTF and ERS are funded needs to be looked at:

o Raising GET

o HB 2661 calls for study to address unfunded liabilities by Department of Taxation (?)

No current state legislation in lowering cost of health care

 5) High HELCO bills     Rep. Nakamura:

Working on renewable and sustainable energy sources such as geothermal which has the biggest power potential at $.08 – $.10 to produce vs. $.29 per kwh at HELCO

Fort Shafter is working on producing hydrogen for hydrogen powered cars

Geothermal potential to produce hydrogen is very great as there would be no need for fossil fuels in production of hydrogen

HELCO must give permission for renewable energy plants to be built

 State looking to take away that power

6) Any chance of tax credits for elderly care of seniors by caregivers who are caring for them in their homes?

 Rep. Tsuji:

“HB 2188 provides support for caregivers of older adults and the disabled. This bill was not passed out. SB 2126, which provides for an employer claiming tax credit is still alive. There is always continued

interest with caregiver tax credits. An article provided by the UH Public Policy Center states, “On average, Hawaii caregivers report spending 22.0 hours per week caring for their parents, bearing $11,656 (annually) in expenses, and needing a financial boost of $5,631 to improve their financial situation and state of mind.” A tax credit for family caregivers bears looking into further.

In 2009 a law was enacted allowing 87 year-old Terry Kaide to move in with her husband Sidney Kaide, 89 years old, into the same residential care home. The law in part allows the Kaides, even without Medicaid coverage to live together. The Kaides are from Hilo.

The Hilo area has a large concentration of assisted living residential facility. Yukio Okutsu Veteran’s Hospital provides medical residential services for veterans and their spouses.”

Sen. Kahele:

Grants In Aid is a way to get tax credits for elderly care but it must be carefully crafted legislation.

Retired teachers as a group should contact legislators and will work together to write it up

HIAC (Hawaii Island Adult Care) in conjunction with HICDC (Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation) looking to get “Grants In Aid” from state to fund building of a complex on Mohouli and Komohana. They are looking for 7.5 million for complex. HIDAC is a semi-profit organization that is looking to build one story housing (like on Kinoole Street) for low income independent seniors and later an “Assisted Living” building for those who need more care is planned.

“Office of Aging” would like to move the County funded Adult Day Care Center from the old Hospital buildings on Rainbow Drive to this complex. Should something happen to the Rainbow Drive facility there would be nowhere for these adult day care clients to be housed.

7) GET tax status?

Rep. Tsuji:

“This year the House’s position is no new taxes. We must live within our means. I’ve been of the opinion with much hesitency, of raising the GET by, say 1%, should be give some consideration. But this has been very contentious. Should we exclude, food and drugs? How much would this increase bring in and who in particular would benefit by it? Figures I’ve been provided with show that the GET increase would derive additional

 

revenue of $430 million; but our budget shortfall was actually $1.3 billion.”

 8) No “Death w/ Dignity” bill introduced

9) Changes in lines of representation for Senate and possibly House

Be aware of the changes in the Districts

MARCH 10TH Precinct Meeting –encourage all to attend

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