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.

During the panel, industry members were able to share with legislators some crucial insights about how legislation like unnecessary warning labels and bans can cause real problems for our industry. The legislators on the panel made a point to let us know how important it is for them to hear from constituents during the legislative session and shared the big impact that it can have to receive communication from those who will be positively or negatively affected by bills.

We followed up the Legislative Talk Story with the Pau Hana with Legislators on February 22nd. The Pau Hana is another event designed to connect our industry with decision makers, and because it takes place while the legislative session is happening it’s an important time to touch base. As always, this year’s Pau Hana was a lot of fun, and a great chance to get some face-to-face communication with our legislators. We had a record turn out of over 30 legislators!

The State Legislative Session is now in full swing, and HFIA has had some early success on a number of important bills, but still faces some significant challenges. One of the biggest issues being pushed at the legislature this year is paid sick leave and family leave.

Six separate bills on either family leave or sick leave or both, have received hearings. HFIA has testified on all six in an attempt to let legislators know how expensive these mandates could be to our businesses, our industry, and our economy.

Many bad labor bills have been successfully deferred, but the others remain and we’ll continue to fight to share our members’ points of view as the session moves forward. Other problematic labor-related bills include proposals to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. We’ve been opposing wage mandates by testifying about the economic thresholds that exist for certain jobs.

Two bills requiring employee schedules to be made in advance have received hearings, one has been deferred and HFIA continues to oppose the other. Both the House and the Senate are also currently moving bills that would prohibit employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary history during the interview process. HFIA has provided comments on these measures.

Unfortunately, bills attempting to ban the majority of chemical sunscreen products and food containers continue to advance. HFIA has been active at both the state and county level on these issues.

In regards to labeling bills, HFIA has been very successful this year. We opposed a state level menu-labeling bill which was defeated in its first hearing. We submitted comments pointing out some problems with a bill pushing the use of new standard terminology for use-by dates and freshness dates, and it was deferred. We also drafted opposition testimony against a bill for warning labels on sugar-sweetened beverages, and it was deleted from the agenda before its first hearing.

At the County level, we’ve been opposing bills to create a .5% GET surcharge, similar to the surcharge already in place in Honolulu County. Kauai passed their surcharge already, and the Hawaii County surcharge is currently moving. HFIA submitted testimony in opposition to both of these measures because it would raise the prices of groceries. A Maui version was proposed, but has not moved.

HFIA has been supporting a bill that would expand liability protection for businesses wishing to donate food. HFIA also supported bills funding the various activities of the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation.

As the Legislative Session moves into its later stages, HFIA will keep working hard on these important issues for our members. We strongly encourage everyone to respond when Action Alerts are sent out asking for testimony. As our legislators themselves pointed out during the Talk Story panel, direct communication from constituents is one of the most important and effective tools we have to fulfill our mission of achieving positive legislative results for our businesses and being the voice of our industry at the capitol.


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