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Summer 2020 Legislative Update



Aloha HFIA Team,

Usually this time of year we’re getting ready for Convention, looking over the past legislative session, and planning for the summer tourist season. Of course this year the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. HFIA has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Convention, the legislative session was halted just after crossover, and we’re still waiting for a definitive plan to reopen the state to tourists.

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Spring 2020 Legislative Update

2020 at the State Legislature

HFIA began actively engaged with legislators long before the start of the 2020 legislative session. We’ve been talking about our priority issues and making sure Hawaii’s senators and representatives understand how is-sues like wage increases and overregulation make it harder for the food industry to serve our communities. We’re also very pleased to be supporting a range of favorable legislation this year.

Joint House, Senate, Administration Economic Package

HFIA is supporting several key components of this proposed package to ensure we get the best positive outcomes for HFIA members and avoid potentially damaging mandates.

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Winter 2019

Bill 40

This fall, all of HFIA’s legislative efforts have focused on Bill 40, the Honolulu plastic ban. This bill is so horrifically drafted that it has united the food industry in a way we have never seen before. We look forward to seeing what the local jobs for local food coalition will accomplish in the future.

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Summer 2019

Summer 2019 Legislative Update - 4 Key Wins for Food Industry

By Lauren Zirbel, HFIA Executive Director

As I write this, we just finished one of the most critical deadlines in the legislative session. Final decking marks the end of the conference committee, a hectic two-week period where the chairs of committees from both the Senate and House try to resolve their differences and come to an agreement on outstanding bills.

All four of the major bills HFIA was tracking during conference committee ended favourably and in accordance with HFIA suggestions put forward in written and verbal testimony.

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Spring 2019

This year, HFIA is very pleased to be proactively championing bills that will benefit our industry and our state. Unfortunately, our business community is once again facing an onslaught of proposed legislation that may have negative consequences. We’re working hard to ensure that we get the most positive outcomes possible on all measures.

HFIA Authored Bills

With the help of Senator Wakai and many other supportive legislators, HFIA introduced a way to immediately lower the cost of living for all Hawaii residents by eliminating taxes on groceries. This is a long - term project that would benefit all Hawaii families, especially lower income families who spend a higher proportion of their income on food. This bill will not pass this year, but we introduced it as a way to start the discussion about how to move Hawaii in line with the vast majority of states that don’t tax groceries. We want to thank Senator Wakai for starting this discussion with HFIA.

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Winter 2018

This year may well be dubbed the year of the freshman!

November ushered in the largest class of freshman legislators in more than a decade. HFIA is looking forward to meeting these new legislators and working hand-in-hand with them in 2019 to advocate for fresh, healthy and affordable food for the residents of Hawaii.

HFIA’s Upcoming Capitol Day

Looking to the New Year, we have organized key leaders in our industry to talk story with legislators during our panel discussion at HFIA’s Capitol Day on January 8, 2019. We hope you can join us! Our panel consists of Senator Glenn Wakai, Representative Aaron Ling Johanson, Derek Kurisu of KTA Superstores, Joe Carter of Coca-Cola, Carl Fukushima of Safeway, Jason Higa of Zippy’s, Paul Kosasa of ABC Stores, and Victor Lim of McDonald’s.

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Fall 2018

HFIA Continues to Address New Legislative Challenges Impacting Our Members

Penalties for Misrepresenting Service Animals

Starting Jan. 1, 2019, violators will be fined $100 to $500 for pretending to have a service animal thanks to a new state law establishing a penalty for knowingly misrepresenting a pet as a service animal. We want to extend a huge MAHALO to Sen. Ruderman for introducing this wonderful legislation. We agree with the legislature that there is a growing problem with people fraudulently representing untrained animals as service dogs. This has resulted in legitimate service dogs being needlessly distracted or even attacked by untrained dogs or other animals, as well as violations of the food and sanitation code. Before this law, there was no legal consequence for misrepresenting a pet dog or other animal as a service animal. This measure was one of HFIA’s top priorities this legislative session. We genuinely hope that this new penalty will discourage people from fraudulently representing their pets as service animals in order to bring them into restaurants, supermarkets, and other inappropriate locations.

Affordable Hawaii Coalition

HFIA’s government relations committee moved to join the Affordable Hawaii Coalition, which is working to educate individuals about a Constitutional Amendment placed on the November 6th ballot. The Amendment asks voters, “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support education?” We agree with the coalition that this bill doesn’t do anything to ensure that more money will actually be used to improve public education, as it is possible that general fund contributions to education may be reduced. We support laws that have already been passed to help teachers with housing and increase funding for public schools. Unfortunately, these have not been implemented. The new tax will raise Hawaii’s cost of living by increasing the cost of home and apartment rentals and increasing the tax burden for businesses leasing office space. In order to reach the goal set forward by proponents of the measure, to raise $500 million, legislators will need to raise taxes by 50 percent on all investment properties. If this passes, rent for businesses and homes will increase and all goods and services will cost more.

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Summer 2018

2018 Session Comes to a Close

Wow, what a year! This year may have been the most challenging year for business yet at the Hawaii State Legislature. Many issues were dragged out until the last moment of the conference committee. Outcomes this session were dramatically improved by our members’ emails and phone calls to legislators. Thank you for your engagement – you made a difference!

A number of the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation funding bills that HFIA supported throughout session have passed!

On a positive note, a number of the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation funding bills that HFIA supported throughout session passed including HB 1958 for the Small Business Innovative Research program, HB 2610 for the Manufacturing Grant Program, and SB 3000 to establish the Research and Development Program.

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Spring 2018

2018 Session in Full Swing

This year, HFIA started off the 2018 State Legislative Session with another successful Capitol Day which included our first Government Relations Committee meeting of the year and the Legislative Talk Story panel. During the GRC meeting, we set clear and actionable legislative goals and priorities to guide HFIA in 2018.

The Legislative Talk Story was co-sponsored by the Hawaii Restaurant Association and is a valuable part of our proactive approach to achieving positive legislative results for our members.

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Winter 2017


By Lauren Zirbel, HFIA Executive Director

During this fall and early winter, HFIA’s legislative team has been working hard to get ready for the upcoming 2018 Hawaii State Legislative session, while also being engaged with the ongoing activities of all four County Councils. 

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Summer 2017

Hawaii State CapitolThe 2017 Legislative Session has been a very active and unusual one! For the first time in recent memory two committee chairs switched places in the middle of session. This created confusion for advocacy groups who had previously met will all chairs assigned to their bills at the start of session. Rep. Angus McKelvey was moved from the chair of Consumer Protection and Commerce (CPC) Committee to become chair of Higher Education Committee. Meanwhile, Rep. Roy Takumi was moved from chair of Education Committee to chair of CPC Committee. CPC Committee is an important committee for the food industry. Many bills relating to regulating products, banning products, regulating business practices, signage, labor, and other standards go through CPC Committee. On the last day of session two other major changes happened. The Speaker of the House, Rep. Joe Souki, resigned his position and was replaced by Rep. Scott Saiki, and the chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the Senate, Sen. Jill Tokuda, was replaced by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz.

Although the session had many curve balls HFIA faired well. All but one of the bills we opposed died, and even that bill was amended to be more favorable. On an even more positive note, a few of the projects we supported, and our members directly benefit from, received funding in the budget! We expect next year to be another challenging session, with many of the “dead” bills from 2017 coming to “life” again! Below is an overview of some the big issues we testified on this year.

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