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Hawai‘i Senate Majority announces priorities for 2024 session

LIHU‘E — A sweeping list of priorities have been targeted by lawmakers days before the 32nd Hawai‘i Legislature convenes in Honolulu.

The list, which ranges from emergency preparedness to housing and homelessness, was released on Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Dru Mamo Kanuha of Hawai‘i Island (District 3).

“The Senate’s legislative priority areas for 2024 reflect the issues and concerns that were brought forth by the 22 members of our Majority Caucus present during our convening in early November, and in conversations with the newly appointed Senator Troy N. Hashimoto,” said Kanuha in a statement.

“The Senate Majority is confident that through hard work and collaboration with our colleagues in the Senate Minority and House of Representatives, we will make significant progress on these important issues and provide much-needed assistance to our Maui Nui ‘ohana as we navigate this recovery process together.”

The primary areas of focus for the lawmakers are: emergency preparedness, recovery and resiliency; workforce development and education; economic development and infrastructure; agriculture, environment and natural resource management; and housing and homelessness.

Emergency preparedness is a key priority for the lawmakers in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires in August 2023. Areas of focus range from supporting ongoing Lahaina relief efforts to the development of a statewide wildfire mitigation plan and fire risk assessment, and seeking permanent funding for the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization.

The lawmakers also plan to pursue workforce development by targeting growth in blue collar jobs, such as commercial driver license drivers and alternative energy jobs, as well as supporting workforce pipeline certification programs with shortages, especially for neighbor islands.

Economic development and infrastructure priorities include increasing investments in repairs of state facilities on each island, investing in emerging industries to diversify the economy, improving transit-oriented development infrastructure and exploring energy alternatives for self-sufficiency.

Priorities for agriculture and the environment extend from establishing food security efforts to dealing with the effects of and eradicating invasive species, as well as exploring the feasibility of visitor impact fees and carbon taxes to continuing to support the environmental protection of state parks.

On the housing front, the lawmakers aim to pursue a number of avenues, including expanding housing into business and industrial zones, investing in housing infrastructure and broadening financing options.

The 32nd Hawai‘i Legislature convenes on Wednesday, Jan. 17.
Source: The Garden Island

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