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HFIA Government Relations

The Hawaii Food Industry Association serves as your government and industry liaison. Legislative lobbying is our primary purpose and responsibility.

Legislative Update - Winter 2015 Bookmark


by Lauren Zirbel


In the past few months, HFIA has been hard at work testifying on county bills and resolutions that impact the food industry. We have attended conferences and community meetings to clarify progress on longstanding initiatives. HFIA is forging a pathway toward new priorities looking forward to the 2016 legislative session.

In mid-October, the Maui County Council heard two bills that are of interest to our members. The first was a resolution to request that the State of Hawaii increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. HFIA submitted testimony in opposition to this bill. HFIA strongly believes that given other high costs local businesses have to endure—such as health insurance premiums, electricity, and shipping costs that continue to increase—legislators should not increase other fixed costs for businesses. Hawaii is in the middle of implementing a minimum wage increase, eventually to $10.10 by 2018. HFIA strongly opposes this additional 48.5% increase. The second bill Maui County heard was one relating to mandating baby diaper changing stations in male or unisex restrooms. This mandate would only apply to new and remodeled locations, the as same as the Honolulu bill which passed recently. HFIA submitted similar concerns to the council about Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

I recently had an opportunity to attend the State Liquor Commission Conference and was very pleased to learn that one of HFIA’s top priorities outlined in past Last Word articles is being implemented! The Honolulu Liquor Commission will be offering an online application process for liquor licensees. Other counties may implement this change in the future.

We recently held a Government Relations Committee conference call to review HFIA’s 2016 legislative package. Many of our issues remain the same as last year, which was a very successful legislative year. We agreed to move mandatory sick and family leave to the top of our oppose list on this call. Many of our smaller grocers expressed that this bill could actually put them out of business. This mandatory sick and family leave bill, as it was introduced last year, had no HR controls, such as the ability to ask for a doctor’s note, and it included leave for part-time workers. Including part-time workers and having no HR controls leaves employers open to impossible scheduling difficulties and fraudulent claims of sickness on the part of employees. Most companies do offer sick leave to full-time employees. As always, our industry opposes government intervention in private business. HR departments are the best place to determine sick and family leave issues for each company.

If you are interested in joining the decision making process for HFIA’s legislative package, please save the date of January 14, 2016. We will hold our in-person Government Relations Committee meeting at the Hawaii State Capitol at 10:30 am, and our annual Legislative Talk Story Panel at the Hawaii State Capitol at 11:30 am. We hope to see you there! The more members who participate, the stronger our voice will be!

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