The 2021 Legislative Session ended in late April, and with its conclusion, 265 bills (9.4 percent) were sent to the governor’s desk for consideration.

While HIPHI and its coalitions identified several policy priorities at the beginning of session, and ultimately supported a range of bills that advanced public health in our state. Good bills that we supported and which passed the legislature include:

  • SB 512, which expands the DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks Program by removing the daily $10 cap and allows healthy local proteins to be included. Unfortunately, continued state funding for the program was not included in the bill. Double Up Food Bucks programs provide a dollar-for-dollar match on local produce for SNAP recipients at participating retailers — a triple win for farmers, families, and the local economy. 
  • HB 767, which moves the Hawaiʻi Farm to School Program from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Education, including a holistic focus on all three core elements of farm to school: school gardens, education, and school food. The bill also sets a goal of at least 30 percent of foods served in public schools being locally sourced.
  • SB 1402 modernizes Hawaii’s transportation system away from an auto-centric society by requiring the Department of Transportation to create public transportation, biking, and walking networks.

Unfortunately, one of the bills we strongly opposed also passed the legislature. HB 1296 repeals the Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund in 2025, which supports prevention, education, and cessation (quit smoking) services across the state. As Hawaiʻi struggles with its youth vaping epidemic, cuts to existing services threaten the health of our keiki.

As with every legislative session, there were also many issues that failed to pass. These included the following priority bills:

  • Comprehensive regulations on e-cigarettes, including taxation, licensing and permitting, restricting online sales, and ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products (SB 63/SB 1147/HB 826). 
  • The creation of a 2-cent-per-ounce sugary drink fee (SB 541/HB 330).
  • Enacting a 3-year surcharge on alcohol (SB 1232/HB 771).
  • Restoring adult dental benefits for Medicaid enrollees (SB 1294/HB 866).

We will also be publishing our annual legislative recap in June 2021 – request a hard copy here! Digital versions will also be published on our website, hiphi.org.