Keiki Care proposal would cover ‘gap group’ children
In notable action last week, Democratic legislators called for a Keiki Care plan that would cover 8,000 children who fall into the "gap group" not covered by private health insurance and do not qualify for Quest, the state's medical insurance plan for the poor.
Combined with Quest, the Keiki Care Plan would mean health insurance for every child in the state.
A bill that would require Ho-nolulu to start a curbside recycling program was deferred but could be revived if the city does not move forward with creating a plan of its own.
Meanwhile, bills to ban the sale of violent video games to minors were taken off the table by committees in the House and Senate.
Two controversial bills moved forward, including one that would increase the minimum-wage tip credit and another that would require hospitals to provide information about emergency contraception to sexual-assault victims.
The tip credit allows employers of tipped employees to pay less than the minimum wage.
While tipped workers argue that their regular wages should not be reduced because tips are not guaranteed, employers support a larger tip credit, arguing that the minimum wage is meant to help the lowest wage earners, not those who have their wages supplemented by tips.
Hospitals could be forced to give victims of sexual assault information on emergency contraception, as well as be required to provide the medication to prevent unwanted pregnancy to any victim that requests it, under a bill that moved through the House Health Committee.
The bill has been opposed by religiously affiliated hospitals, but an amendment would exempt them from from the requirement, as long as they provide medically appropriate transportation to another healthcare facility or provider of the survivor's choice.
Education: Lawmakers are fine-tuning proposals that would help Hawai'i's youngest children receive access to high-quality early education and give charter schools help with facilities costs.
Affordable housing: The House Housing Committee is trying to figure out whether to exempt disabled and elderly public-housing tenants from legislation that fast-tracks eviction from the low-income housing in light of two highly publicized evictions from Kuhio Park Terrace last week.
Alternative energy: Gov. Linda Lingle's energy package was heard in an overflowing conference room on Wednesday and passed with amendments by the House committees on Agriculture and Energy, and Environmental Protection.
Tax relief: The House Finance committees moved a bill that adjusts the state's income-tax brackets, but deferred one that would raise the low-income refundable tax credit.
"I find it kind of ironic: On the one hand, we're trying to do something about the homeless, and on the other hand, we're creating more. Is there another system we can work with?" — Rep. Scott Nishimoto, D-21st (Kapahulu, Diamond Head), at a hearing on fast-track evictions from public housing.
Have a tip for the Capitol Bureau? Call 525-8070 or write ddepledge @honoluluadvertiser.com or email@example.com.