Legislature reconvenes to tackle economic crisis, police reform

Legislature reconvenes to tackle economic crisis, police reform

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol on Monday for a three-week legislative session to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the state.

During the shortened session, they plan to discuss the economic fallout from the pandemic and how to distribute more than $600 million in federal money from the CARES Act.

“End of July, the federal $600 weekly plus-up is going to end and so we know that there are going to be people facing a cliff,” Representative Della Au Belatti said the state cannot match the $600 weekly but can offer $100 weekly to help through the end of the year.

Belatti also said she wants to see rental assistance of $500 per month.

Senator Karl Rhoads said unemployment is the priority for the legislative session.

“Roughly 22% unemployment right now. Tourism hasn’t reopened and that’s really the life line for a lot of people.”

Rhoads wants some of the CARES Act money to be used to support Department of Health needs to not only keep the coronavirus out, but to help boost tourism after the mandatory quarantine is lifted for out-of-state travelers.

“Contact tracing, test kits, anything we need to put into the airport so we can better detect it coming into the state.”

Other issues that will be addressed, police reform.

Legislation would make public the names of officers who faced administrative action, something some lawmakers have been fighting for for years but were always met with resistance.

Police reform is sweeping the country and calls for change could boost the efforts for the bills this session.

“Last year we came really close on identifying police officers who are adjudicated and found to have misconduct and suspensions,” said Belatti, “We were close on that so we want to get that one done.”

Public worker raises are also expected to be blocked or suspended during the session.

Also a priority, legislation to extend the window for civil suits filed by victims of child sex abuse.

Rhoads said he’s confident an extension will happen for the survivors because the bills were moving quickly through the legislature ahead of the COVID-19 closures.

“They were already almost through before the pandemic hit so I think we will be able to pass a couple of those.”

The abbreviated session is scheduled to end on July 10.

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