Homelessness Expected to Top 2018 Legislative Agenda (Again)

Jan 14, 2018

Homelessness is expected to top the 2018 Legislative Agenda
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Opening Day for the 2018 State Legislature is Wednesday. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka has this preview.

Nearly 3-thousand bills are expected to be introduced in the 2018 Legislative Session, with the top issues of homelessness and affordable housing.  House Health and Human Services Committee Chair, Representative John Mizuno, supports homeless safe zones.

“Three administrations and what have we really accomplished?  We’re still the highest per capita in the nation for homelessness.  A safe zone can be done, we can have security.  The concern is liability.  The other concern many say is NIMBY: Not in My Back Yard.”

But, safe zones have been proposed by lawmakers before.  One has been set up in Kona on the Big Island.  Senator Karl Rhoads, vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, says two major stumbling blocks remain.

“You gotta find a neighborhood where people are willing to accept it and I think that’s probably going to be very difficult.  The other problem, as a Constitutional matter, I doubt that we have a way to make them go.”

Homelessness and Affordable Housing, as legislative priorities, have been overshadowed in the past by marriage equality, medical assisted suicide and funding for the Honolulu Rail Transit project.  The state Council on Revenues, meanwhile, raised tax collection by 14 million dollars for a total of 6.6 billion in general funds.  Governor David Ige wants some of that money for his supplemental budget.

“I am asking for 1.497 billion dollars in the CIP improvements.  Our estimate is that 14-thousand jobs will be created by this funding, of which, about 55-hundred are in the construction industry, directly.”

During last session, 230 bills or 7.8 percent of the total, passed 3 readings in the House and Senate for the Governor’s consideration.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.