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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 Spring 2016 Bookmark

By Lauren Zirbel

It is still early in the legislative process and HFIA has been hard at work identifying, monitoring, and testifying on State and County bills that impact the food industry. In addition to legislation, we have been focused on building and strengthening relationships with lawmakers to continue to ensure that our members’ voices are heard. Our annual Legislative Talk Story Panel at the Hawaii State Capitol was a success—the room was packed with lawmakers and staff who listened
to the concerns of our panelists. In addition, we scheduled a Legislator Meet and Greet at Square Barrels restaurant on February 18, where HFIA members had the opportunity to get to know Hawaii’s legislators in a casual setting. 

HFIA’s bi-monthly GRC conference call meetings have been extremely productive, allowing us to work together in building a successful legislative strategy towards achieving desired outcomes on a wide range of bills. 

HFIA’s priority bills for the 2016 session include: 

There are a number of labor-related bills that affect our members, including sick leave, special wages, and monthly compensation. 

HFIA opposes bills that add unnecessary mandates to Hawaii’s sick leave laws, such as HB1683 and SB2456. 

HB1683 permits an employee to use leave under the Hawaii Family Leave Law to care for a sibling. We believe that including siblings in Hawaii’s Family Leave Law is over- reaching and will result in additional costs to employers. On February 12, the Labor Committee passed it with amendments and included an effective date. 

SB2456 requires certain employers with 50 or more employees to provide sick leave to service workers for specified purposes under certain conditions. HFIA opposes this bill because it will hinder employer flexibility in providing sick leave and will result in additional costs. It was scheduled to be heard by the Committee on Judiciary & Labor on February 16. 

We support HB2010 that establishes a first job training program for the employment
of learners, including apprentices; part-time employees who are full-time public or private school students; paroled wards of Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility; and handicapped workers. Participants will receive a special wage lower than the existing minimum wage. The Committee on Labor passed it with amendments from DLIR on February 12. 

This bill was introduced as a result of HFIA’s Day at the Capitol, as Chair Nakashima listened to the concerns of HFIA panelists relating to the increasing minimum wage for entry-level and training jobs. HFIA followed up with a meeting between Nakashima and our panelists, and this legislation was introduced to address some of our members’ concerns relating to minimum wage. 

We oppose HB953, which increases the amount of guaranteed monthly compensation required to exempt an individual from minimum wage, overtime, and record keeping requirements under the Hawaii Wage and Hour Law by way of a formula. On January 29, the Committee on Labor passed it with amendments replacing the formula used to calculate the minimum exempt salary with a at rate of $2,400, which represents a $400 per month increase over the current statutory minimum and changed the effective date to January 1, 2021. 


GET Increases
HFIA strongly opposes any and all proposed increases to the GET, including SB2599, which increases the GET (general excise tax) from 4% to 5% to fund Department of Education operations, and SB2478, which establishes a 0.5% surcharge on state tax to pay for claims for defined benefits under the long-term care financing program. It is still early in the legislative process, and we will continue to oppose these bills. On February 10, the Education Committee passed SB2599 with amendments, and the Committee on Consumer Protection & Health passed SB2478 with amendments from the Department of Taxation. The House of Representatives and the Governor have indicated that they do not intend to pass a GET increase bill. 


Disposable Bags
For HB1507, HD2, which establishes a working group to study methods to reduce the use
of all disposable bags, we submitted testimony in support with amendments. On January 27, the Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce passed it out and granted our request to be included in the working group. 


Advance Disposal Fee
We support the amended version of HB2251 (HD1), which requires the Department of Health to assess the viability of the glass advance disposal fee program and report to the Legislature on the Department’s progress in adopting the recommendations contained in “A Study to Identify Local Alternatives to Shipping Non-Deposit Glass Out of the State of Hawaii” (Auditor’s Report No. 14-17). 


HFIA supports SB2135 and HB1634, which lowers the taxation rate for large cigars to the lesser of 50 cents for each large cigar or 50% of the wholesale price. We believe this is a fair and reasonable rate for these products and will continue to submit testimony in support. 

SB2135 was scheduled for decision-making on February 17 by the Ways and Means Committee, and HB1634 was scheduled
for a hearing on February 17 by
 the Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. 

HFIA opposes SB2689, which increases fees on retail tobacco licenses and permits. It passed CPH and will move on to JDL. We will continue to oppose this bill.

We support HB2422, which reduces administrative burdens relating to corporate submissions during the liquor license application process. It passed the Committee on Economic Development & Business as is, and was heard by the Commit- tee on Consumer Protection & Commerce on February 17. 


Food Waste
HFIA submitted comments
on HB2648, which establishes a phased reduction of food waste in the municipal solid waste stream and creates an advisory committee to evaluate solid waste infrastructure needs. We believe it is premature to establish recycling quotas prior to the establishment of an advisory committee. It passed with amendments that HFIA supports from EEP on February 11. 


911 Surcharge
SB2805 establishes a prepaid wireless E911 surcharge of 66 cents per retail transaction of prepaid wireless telecommunications service at the point-of-sale and allows sellers to deduct and retain 3% of the surcharge that is collected. We submit- ted testimony in opposition because the 3% is not enough to cover retailers’ expenses in collecting the surcharge, and retailers are opposed to this funding source due to the administrative burdens associated with it. The Committee on Consumer Protection & Health passed it with amendments on February 11. 


Polystyrene (County of Hawaii)
We strongly oppose Bill 140, which seeks to ban the sale and use of polystyrene containers
in the County of Hawaii. It was heard on February 16. HFIA contacted local food establishments on Hawaii Island and sent out an action alert to members and affected businesses asking them to submit testimony in opposition.
Thank you to all of you who have participated in our GRC and thank you to all HFIA members for supporting HFIA and making our advocacy efforts possible.

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