CAP Watch: Conference Report from Kat 4.19.13

DAY 2 – FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2013

 SB 71 SD2 HD1 – MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR PUBLIC SAFETY PROGRAMS
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/bills/SB71_HD1_.pdf
Pump UpMakes an appropriation to the Department of Public Safety to contract with community-based non-profit organizations to provide education, mentoring, restorative circles, farming, artisan skills, cognitive behavioral therapy, and cultural healing services to inmates and former inmates who are under the custody and control of the Department of Public Safety or the Hawaii Paroling Authority. Effective July 1, 2050. (SB71 HD1)

Of course every appropriations bill is in limbo until the budget gets settled next week. There was funding in the earlier versions of the budget for PSD programs ($2 million) but I understand that it has been removed in both the House and Senate versions.  Funding programs that help individuals get their lives together and ready for reentry is absolutely crucial for successful reintegration and for the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

I will be sending out an action alert after this report asking folks to contact the budget conference committee to support this crucial funding. Senator Espero is the Senate Chair of the conference committee along with Senator Ige so I know that he is working to get funding. He has been our justice champion.

The committee convenes again on Tuesday 4.23 @10:30 am in Room 312.

HB 385 HD2 SD1 – EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/bills/HB385_SD1_.pdf
Establishes a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit. Requires the Department of Human Services to offer financial education to applicants for and recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Appropriates funds. Effective 07/01/2050. (SD1)

I had another meeting and couldn’t make this conference. As with other financial bills, it will go to the end until the budget is settled.

The committee convenes again on Monday, 4.22 @ 4pm in Room 229.

HB 218 HD1 SD2 – CORRECTIONS POPULATION MANAGEMENT COMMISSION – 2 SEATS FOR HAWAIIANS
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/bills/HB218_SD2_.pdf
Adds the OHA administrator and a member of the public, who is knowledgeable about issues relating to the criminal justice system and has substantial experience or expertise in traditional Native Hawaiian practices, to the corrections population management commission. Effective 7/1/2050. (SD2)

The fact that this bill is still in conference confounds me. It is a straightforward bill. Every version of it is the same, except for the last Senate version (SD2), which defected the date, forcing it into conference. All they need to do is change it to what the 3 other versions effective date was: upon approval.  I need to find out the back story on this – it seems like a waste of time to meet on something that both sides agree on. What’s the issue?

The committee convenes again on Monday, 4.22 @ 1:45 pm in Room 312.

HB 668 HD2 SD2  – TRANSFER OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM FROM PSD TO DOH
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/bills/HB668_SD2_.pdf
Establishes the medical marijuana transition advisory group to make binding recommendations on the transfer of the medical use of marijuana program. Transfers the medical use of marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health by January 1, 2015. Requires report, with transfer plan and timeline, to the legislature prior to the 2014 regular session. Requires legislation codifying the recommendations of the medical marijuana advisory group to be adopted by December 30, 2014; otherwise, repeals this measure and prohibits transfer of the medical use of marijuana program. Effective 07/01/50. (SD2)

This bill has been through the wringer and sadly because the legislature’s only doctor, Sen.  Josh Green,  has been its main resistance! It should be a straightforward transfer from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health, where the majority of medical cannabis programs around the country are placed – since it is a public health program.

The most courageous member of the House, imho, has been Rep. Della Au Belatti. She is smart, savvy, and committed to helping the public. She is the Chair of Health and has been listening to patients and experts, reviewing the report from the 2010 medical cannabis task force, and has been very attentive during testimony. She is the lead Chair of the House side of the conference committee along with Rep. Aquino (who is not a big supporter of the program) and Rep. Morikawa who does understand the importance of the program). The Senate Chair is Green.  At today’s conference  Rep. Belatti was prepared and very articulate. She would like this bill to be just about the transfer of the program and will draft a CD1 that will be presented on Tuesday. Sen. Green appeared to go along with her, but we will see.

The committee convenes again on Tuesday, 4.23 @ 2:30 pm in Room 229.

SB 642 HD2 – TOBACCO; MEDICAL CANNABIS PRG.; TRANSFER TO DOH
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/bills/SB642_HD2_.pdf
Requires cigarettes and tobacco products to be sold, offered for sale, or displayed behind the check-out counter only in a direct, face-to-face exchange between the retailer and the consumer. Amends the Medical Use of Marijuana Law. Transfers the Medical Use of Marijuana Program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health by June 30, 2014. Effective July 1, 2112. (SB642 HD2)

This bill was originally about tobacco product placement. Today the conference committee decided to move the tobacco part of the bill (Part 1) out and put it into another measure (HB 672) and have this bill be solely about improving the medical cannabis program.

This came about when HB 667, the original bill that made improvements to this 13 year old program, died. Rep. Belatti, as Chair of Health then inserted a Part II and Part III into this measure to address the transfer of the program from PSD to DOH (when it looked like HB 668 was going to die) and the improvements to the program.

Rep. Belatti explained that the CD1 she will draft will 1) eliminate the mature/immature language that has been so problematic for law enforcement; 2) increase the amount of cannabis per patient from 3-5 ounces explaining that some patients do not smoke it, but use it in food or smoothies or tinctures that require more cannabis and is in line with other medical cannabis programs around the US; 3) require certification of primary caregivers with a different card than the patients and include the address of the location where the cannabis is grown to satisfy law enforcement; 4) require certification of caregivers and would include a fee not to exceed $35; 5) increase the patient to caregiver ratio from 1:1 to 1:2; 6) allow a maximum of 21 plants per TMK; 7) state that the changes would happen immediately – i.e. before transfer to DOH.

Generally the chamber from which the bill originates writes the draft, so we are happy that Rep. Belatti has taken the lead with the concurrence of Sen. Green.

The committee convenes again on Tuesday, 4.23 @ 2:30 pm in Room 229.

Kat Brady, Coordinator

Sometimes the lights all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.
Lyrics to “Truckin’” by The Grateful Dead

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