UHHSA Legislative Committee Travels to Opening Day of State Legislature

Editor in Chief Nick Carrion

This past January, members of the UHHSA Legislation Committee, as well as a representative from Ke Kalahea, traveled to the state capitol on Oahu for the opening of the 2018 Legislative Session. Over the course of the legislative session, numerous bills will be introduced and debated, in the hope of eventually becoming signed into Hawai’i state law. As the University of Hawai`i system is a function of the state government, some of these bills have the potential to directly affect UHH students. As such, the UHHSA Legislative Committee made it their mission to meet with our local representatives to find out their priorities for the upcoming session, as well as advocate for issues that may affect students. Here are the representatives they met with, as well as what each is focused on for this year.

Senator Kai Kahele – District 1

Serving on the Senate Higher Education Committee, Kahele is focused mainly on UH System issues. These include tuition rates, and possibly placing some restrictions or oversights on the Board of Regents, who currently enjoy guaranteed autonomy from the state legislature.

Senator Russell Ruderman – District 2

Ruderman supports an initiative to gradually implement a $15 minimum wage across the state of Hawai`i. He also supports leaving the issue of marijuana legalization to individual counties within the state, recognizing that public opinion on this matter varies greatly across different geographic areas.

Representative Angus McKelvey – District 10

While not from Hawai`i Island, McKelvey serves on the House Higher Education Committee, which relates to the UH system. He is hoping to expand the Hawai`i Promise Program, which provides funds to students whose estimated “need” is not covered fully by their FAFSA aid package, to students at UH Hilo (the program currently applies to community college students). He also supports a bill that would expand “free speech zones” to cover all of campus.

Representative Chris Todd – District 2

Todd’s priority this year is an attempt to increase the rental car tax, hoping to shift some of the state revenue burden from residents to large corporations like car rental agencies that generate massive profits on the islands.

Representative Cindy Evans – District 7

Evans is focused on justice system reforms, as well as providing more oversight on Hawai`i’s homeschooling programs. She is also passionate about issues involving invasive species, rat lungworm disease, and rapid `ohi`a death.

Representative Mark Nakashima – District 1

Nakashima’s focus leans toward the administrative side of things, especially addressing the efficiency of the UH system. He wants to bring more uniformity to the hiring process, as well as to the training policies for all state employees.

Representative Richard Onishi – District 3

Onishi’s priority for this session deals with tourism and economic development, particularly with the re-development of the hotels along Banyan Drive. He also wants the state to decide how to fund charter schools.

Representative Joy San Buenaventura – District 4

Representing subdivisions in the Puna area, San Buenaventura wants to create an agency within the county to audit and train administrators, instead of the default option of using the courts to address issues related to her district.

If any of these issues interest you, or to find out more information about the bills being introduced, or to join the UHHSA Legislative Committee for the 2018-2019 school year, visit the UHHSA office, Campus Center 203A.