Opening Day at the Legislature
Yesterday, the Hawai'i State Legislature held its annual opening ceremonies to kick off the 2022 Legislative Session. Despite being relegated to a hybrid format with an empty gallery, the leaders of both chambers spoke of their optimism and their respective legislative priorities over the course of the next several months which include everything from economic recovery to homelessness, mental health, and the connection between tourism and conservation. It is clear that they have an ambitious agenda, and we will have to be on our toes for both measures that we support and those that we oppose.
In his remarks before the Senate, our friend Senator Kurt Fevella stated plainly what we all know to be true: Hawai'i's economic recovery and health will continue to rely upon the hospitality industry. He made clear that getting Hawai'i's back to steady, productive work is a critical priority, and no industry can do that as quickly as the tourism industry. In the current political and community climate, where the target on our backs seems to grow daily, it was refreshing to hear an elected official reiterate the importance of tourism.
On the HLTA front, we have finalized our HLTA Government Affairs Position Statement for 2022. This document, which you can read in its entirety at the link above, details our legislative positions and priorities and will be distributed to each legislator in the coming days. Should you have any questions about the document or any of our positions, please feel free to contact my Vice President of Government & Community Affairs Jared Higashi via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill 41 Testimony
Today, the Honolulu City Council's Committee on Zoning & Planning held a special committee hearing on Bill 41 (2021) and a proposed committee draft. These measures would set new regulations for short-term rental units with the original measure setting the threshold for the minimum length of stay at 180 days, the committee discussion resulted in a 90-day minimum which we had no issue with in our supportive testimony.
There were more than 200 submissions of written testimony and dozens of oral testifiers who came out both for and against this measure. I submitted testimony on behalf of HLTA, which can be read here, in strong support of both Bill 41 and the CD1 and Jared Higashi presented oral testimony. It is our position that Bill 41 is the next best step in reining in the proliferation of illegal short-term units around O'ahu, and this will have a significant impact on that effort.
The CD1 was ultimately reported out by the committee with slight amendments. Councilmembers Elefante, Kia‘āina, and Say voted aye while Councilmember Cordero voted with reservations. The measure will now go to the Full Council for second reading. In the meantime we will continue our dialogue with the councilmembers since the ball is in their court...
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