October, 2017 Update
The Kupuna Caucus is one of the more active caucuses of the Democratic Party of Hawai`i (DPH) to change the way things work (or don’t work) at the State Legislature. The number of issues we are able to work on depends entirely on you. Membership in the Kupuna Caucus is open to registered Democrats or “Democrats at heart” of any age. We believe that all generations must work together in order to solve the may challenges facing Hawai`i and indeed the nation and world. Join us today by liking our Facebook page and by opting into our email list via the righthand column or below this text if using a smart phone.
Our caucus was heavily engaged throughout the 2017 State Legislative Session working to pass several of the Party’s Primary bills including SB 1129 SD2 “Medical Aid in Dying.” After a decade without a serious hearing, our bill quickly passed the Senate Health and Judiciary Committees and then the full Senate with only two “no” votes. Our bill was then heard but “deferred” until 2018 by the House Health Committee. NOTE: You may view the entire House Health Committee hearing HERE
The good new is, we do not need to start all over in 2018 and will pick up exactly where we left off with the House Health Committee. Mahalo to the literally hundreds of Party and unaffiliated community supporters who worked to get it this far, this fast. We could never have done this without your dedication, commitment and hard work. More on Medical Aid In Dying HERE.
NOTE: One great success in 2017 was the passage of SB530 SD2 which restored the State Long Term Care Ombudsman Specialist for Oahu and provides funding to contract three part-time care home inspectors for Kauai, Maui and Hawai`i counties. The money was released on July 1, 2017 and we worked with our sister organization, the Kupuna Caucus of the Hawai`i State Legislature and others to speed up the process to see the new positions authorized by the Health Department. See a complete list of other bills we supported HERE.
We’ve been working since the 2017 legislative session in May 5th to network with other supportive organizations re senior issues including the Kokua Council of Seniors and the Kupuna Caucus of the Hawai`i State Legislature and we will be well positioned to act on other issues important to Hawaii’s kupuna during the 2018 Legislative Session.
During the Caucus’ June 7th Steering Committee meeting, the following items were approved unanimously:
1) It was decided that the Kupuna Caucus stands against the extension of the General Excise Tax (GET) surcharge and instead supports the Hawaii State House’s position on raising the transient accommodations tax (TAT) to fund the Honolulu Transit Project. We believe that because a large percentage of the TAT – which is a hotel room tax – is paid by non-residents, it would have less fiscal impact on we residents than the GET.
As luck would have it, I attended the monthly meeting of the Kokua Council on Monday, July 24, 2017. House Speaker Scott Saiki was the guest speaker. When the subject of rail funding came up, I informed the group and Speaker Saiki of our Caucus’ position. Hawaii Public Radio reporter Wayne Yoshioka interviewed me after the meeting and my statement about the TAT was included in his news story. My included quote was, “Our [Kupuna Caucus] steering committee voted to support the House position on increasing the transient accommodations tax (TAT). Whether you support the transit or not, let’s get it built, get it funded and get it operating. Until we get the 10 miles done, we can’t really move on the hopefully–affordable housing on the existing 10 miles that has been constructed.” Read the story and hear the broadcast HERE.
2) The Kupuna Caucus shall create and publish, an Accountability Report on the voting record of the House Leadership and the House Health Committee members, in regards to the Death with Dignity Bill.”
3) Fundraising: Our Party Chair Tim Vandeveer is asking all of the caucuses to do fundraising activities for the Party and sent the following as one idea for the Kupuna Caucus. View the trailer for the film “CARE” HERE. The documentary “Care pulls back the curtain on the poignant and largely hidden world of in-home elder care. Beautifully shot and deeply moving, the film reveals the deep bonds that form between paid care workers and elders while exposing the cracks in the U.S. care system.” We are in the process of identifying the needed venue and a total budget. The film rental is $250. Stay tuned for details.
Mahalo for all that you do!
Scott Foster, Chair
P.S. Please “Like” our Facebook page using the opt-in feature in the right column on a computer or below the following text if using a Smart Phone.
Navigating The Journey is a live weekly broadcast on Think Tech Hawaii with host, our own Marsha Joyner that explores the options and choices of end-of-life issues from religious, cultural, medical and legal perspectives. The shows are archived on line HERE.