2024 Legislature underway, and public voice crucial, Kefalas says

The 2024 legislative session is underway, and while the spotlight is on rebuilding Lahaina, Ted Kefalas, director of strategic campaigns of the Grassroot Institute, says “we can’t take our eye off” other critical issues. 

Speaking with radio host Rick Hamada last week on KHVH News Radio 830, Kefalas said one of Grassroot’s top priorities for the session will be supporting bills to help ease Hawaii’s housing crisis, including measures to reduce minimum lot sizes. 

For example, Kefalas said the minimum lot size on Maui of 6,000 square feet incentivizes the construction of large homes rather than smaller, more affordable ones that locals desperately need. 

“Two-thirds of the cost of a home is tied up in the land,” he said. “So, in theory, by being able to reduce that amount of land, you’ll be able to reduce the price.” 

Kefalas said Grassroot will also be backing HB1632, which would streamline the homebuilding permitting process by requiring counties to authorize self-certifications of building plans. 

On the healthcare front, Kefalas said one of the big wins from last year’s session was the passage of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which will make it easier for out-of-state doctors to obtain licenses to practice in Hawaii. Building on that momentum, he said he hopes Hawaii will join other healthcare compacts, including those for nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists. 

Kefalas also urged lawmakers to finally pass an exemption from the general excise tax for medical services.

He emphasized the crucial role voters play in bringing these priorities to fruition, saying, “If there is an issue that you feel passionate about, you really need to get involved and let your legislators know.” 

To hear the entire 20-minute conversation, click on the image below.

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