As you probably know, HLTA's government affairs arm has been extremely busy at the Legislature over the past few weeks. We have provided testimony on a number of bills and wanted to provide you a brief update as today is the legislative body's first lateral.
This was an extremely pressing issue that would have disproportionately affected local hotels that were forced to furlough workers due to the pandemic. Because the unemployment insurance fund has been depleted, the State was supposed to be moved to the "H" schedule which would have brought with it the highest rates for employers. HLTA submitted testimony in support of several proposals that would have altered the schedule. Ultimately, we supported House Bill 1278, HD1. This measure, which sets the schedule at "D" for the next two years was supported by the State administration and has been passed by both the House and the Senate.
Income Tax Exemption
Another issue that HLTA has weighed in on was the need for clear language that would exempt unemployment compensation from the state income tax. Thousands of people who have been furloughed would have been affected by this come tax season. We offered testimony in support of Senate Bill 614 which was passed by the Senate Committee on Culture & the Arts, but must still be heard by Ways & Means.
Commercial Rent Relief
We have also weighed in on commercial rent relief measures that would provide relief not only to landlords, but also to tenants in commercial spaces. You may recall that HLTA supported a similar measure at the Honolulu City Council late last year. The Senate Committee on Commerce & Consumer Protection passed out Senate Bill 946, SD1, which also passed second reading. The measure must now be heard by Ways & Means.
I have been an outspoken proponent of the need for our government to establish parking ticket-like fines for those who knowingly refuse to wear their masks in public. In the past, these individuals were given misdemeanor citations which required that the offender go to court. This led to thousands of these citations being thrown out and local law enforcement being left to enforce a mandate without teeth. We have strongly supported House Bill 726 which must finally be heard by the House Finance Committee before being sent to the Senate.
Statewide Travel Rules
Yesterday, the House Committee on the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs passed House Bill 1286 which would establish statewide travel rules. As you know, this measure was submitted by Speaker Saiki, and we have been pressing for its passage. Many of our local hoteliers and industry partners submitted written testimony and testified at the hearing. Mahalo to each of you- the committee passed the measure which must now be heard by the House Finance Committee.
The Big Picture
The Hawai'i Lodging & Tourism Association is pleased to announce the first episode of a special, two-part series of webinars will be held on February 23 at 4 p.m. at no cost to for viewers.
Hosted by our new Restaurant, Food, Beverage & Agricultural Committee, the inaugural episode will feature a discussion panel that will examine a critical part of Hawai‘i’s hospitality industry that works to bring aloha to visitors and locals every day. Aptly entitled "The BIG Picture – Hawai‘i’s Restaurant, Food, Beverage and Agriculture Sectors," the panel will bring together key industry leaders and stakeholders who will:
The webinar will be kicked off with remarks from HLTA President & CEO Mufi Hannemann as well as T S Restaurants Vice President of Operations and Restauraunt, Food, Beverage, & Agriculture Committee co-Chair Dylan Ching. The discussion panel will be moderated by Hawaii Agriculture Foundation Chairman Dean Okimoto and will include the following panelists:
This event has limited space, so please register as soon as possible. You may visit the registration page by clicking the graphic above, or by clicking here.
We sincerely hope that you will be able to join us!
Many of you have been reaching out to our offices for more information on the status of the State's vaccination schedule as well as hospitality workers' place in said schedule. Although we are currently experiencing delays due to the winter storms occurring on the mainland, I want to reassure you- we are in a good place. I have been in ongoing meetings with HTA President & CEO John de Fries and the Department of Health as to what the process will entail when we start vaccinating our people.
While it may feel like we are stuck in a holding pattern, our request has been made, and the State is doing its due diligence to address it. Please use this time to prepare your internal procedures and priority lists for the vaccine distribution.
If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to email me at any time.
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