2024 State Legislative Session Takeaways: Hawaii

Written by Matt Wallack

The Hawaii Legislature adjourned the 2023-2024 legislative biennium on May 3. During the biennium, the legislature introduced 5,536 bills. Of these, 2,935 were either introduced or received consideration in 2024. 262 bills were passed by both chambers and an additional 298 resolutions were adopted.

Here is what you may have missed:

Housing Reform

On May 3, Governor Josh Green (D) signed SB 2919, which permits counties to convert short-term and transient rental housing into long-term housing. This includes shelters and vehicles with sleeping accommodations. The bill grants home rule authority to counties to allow them to decide whether to accommodate vacation rentals. This was a response to the Maui wildfires, which created a housing shortage that the governor aimed to address in this session. “As we press forward with our ongoing wildfire response and recovery efforts, SB 2919 will be a pivotal tool to address Hawai‘i’s housing crisis while ensuring our essential housing programs for Maui recovery remain robust,” said the governor.


On May 1, the state house and senate passed HB 2359/SB 3048, which establishes a digital equity program within the Hawaii Broadband and Digital Equity Office. If enacted into law, this program will award grants that serve groups such as those over the age of 60, those with disabilities, persons with low literacy or English as a second language, racial and ethnic minorities, those who are unhoused, and those who reside in rural areas, with a preference for non-profit applicants.

The house and senate also passed SB 2305/HB 1774 on May 1. If enacted into law, this measure will establish a Silver Alert program. According to Representative Cory Chung (D), the house sponsor for this measure, “The Silver Alert is a step forward in prioritizing safety for our kūpuna and vulnerable individuals.  Losing a loved one who wanders off can be the most terrifying situation for families and caregivers, but today we are not only giving them hope – but also the tools needed to locate their loved ones.”


The legislature passed its supplemental budget on May 1, which has yet to be signed into law. One of the more notable provisions of this year’s budget is an additional $1,972,056 for unemployment insurance. During the legislative process, the senate removed $13,356,628 for broadband equity, access, and deployment from the version that passed the house. During conference committee meetings, that sum was not included in the final bill. The budget also includes capital construction and maintenance with grants ranging between $100,000 and $209,253,000 per project.

Looking Ahead to 2025

Environmental legislation is likely to be a major priority in 2025. Legislation to create a climate impact fee, part of the governor’s 2024 policy briefing, failed to pass either chamber. Hawaii’s housing shortage will continue to be a priority in 2025 with Green stating, “We’re going to address the 75,000 illegal short-term rentals in the coming years.”

Legislative primaries will be held on August 10, 2024, with the General Election scheduled for November 5. 13 of 25 state senate seats and all state house seats will be up for grabs. The 2025 legislative session is expected to convene on January 20, 2025.

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