Tax Credits for the Poor, Emergency Contraception… And Bird Poop

Three of the 136 measures the Hawaii Senate passed Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s second-crossover deadline dealt with earned income tax credits, emergency contraception and feral birds.

With the lone objection from Republican Sen. Sam Slom, senators passed House Bill 385 to establish an earned income tax credit in Hawaii and require the state to offer poor Hawaii residents a basic financial education.

Slom said the estimated $23 million to be spent on the targeted tax credit is not the best way for the state to help low-income residents. He prefers reducing the income tax rate.

But others have argued that for every dollar the state spends on the EITC, an additional $1.67 is generated in new earnings for the state.

The House let the Senate version of the bill, SB 301, die in committee.

In other Senate action, lawmakers passed House Bill 411. It ensures that female sexual assault victims have access to emergency contraception.

The House let the Senate version of pretty much the same bill, SB 1109, die in committee last month.

Sen. Roz Baker has said passing the bill would mean that Hawaii would “join the 21st century in standard of care for rape victims.”

And in one of the odder bills to pass Tuesday, all but two senators voted in favor of legislation that makes feeding feral birds a nuisance that the Department of Health would have authority to resolve.

The bill, which originally made feeding pigeons a criminal offense, was introduced by Sen. Gregg Takayama after Pearl City residents complained about the problem.

Slom, who voted against House Bill 619 along with Sen. Michelle Kidani, said this was not a matter the Legislature should get involved with.

"Are we really going to be talking about birds and bird poop? Really?" he said on the Senate floor Tuesday. 

Slom said it should be a matter for neighbors to resolve amongst themselves; it doesn’t need a law.

Nathan Eagle

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