Agriculture; Back-To-Work

Appropriates funds for the agricultural back-to-work pilot
program (program) established by Act 255, Session Laws of Hawaii
1997.  Amends the administration and purpose of the agricultural
back-to-work pilot program under Act 255.  Extends the repeal
date of the program for two additional years to July 1, 2002.
(HB641 HD1)

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           H.D. 1
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that sweeping changes made
 2 by the federal government to the nation's welfare policy have
 3 profoundly affected the manner in which welfare assistance is
 4 distributed by the State.  Faced with new mandates, decreased
 5 federal funding, and expanded program responsibilities, states
 6 throughout the country are currently in the process of
 7 transforming their welfare programs from programs of cash
 8 assistance to programs aimed at promoting work participation and
 9 self-sufficiency.  It is imperative that steps be taken to bring
10 about this transition in Hawaii and reduce the welfare rolls of
11 the State, and to help individuals, both U.S. citizens and legal
12 immigrants, who are unemployed, who are on welfare, or whose
13 welfare benefits have expired but remain unemployed.
14      The legislature further finds that although the State has
15 experienced difficult economic times in recent years, new work
16 opportunities can be created by carefully examining and making
17 full use of the resources available to the State.  For example,
18 while factors such as unemployment and the demise of large
19 agricultural operations have negatively impacted Hawaii's

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1

 1 economy, the vast areas of land now open for new ventures in
 2 diversified farming provides the State with a unique opportunity
 3 to create new job opportunities in agriculture, encourage work
 4 participation, and reduce welfare dependency throughout the
 5 State.  By creating new work opportunities in agriculture, the
 6 State will help individuals, both U.S. citizens and legal
 7 immigrants, unemployed or on public assistance, make the
 8 transition from unemployment or welfare back to work.
 9      Act 255, Session Laws of Hawaii 1997, established the
10 agricultural back-to-work pilot program within the department of
11 agriculture.  The intent of the program is to establish other
12 programs on public and private agricultural lands in each county,
13 coordinate the assignment of eligible individuals to agricultural
14 parcels and supervise the farming, marketing, and business
15 activities of program participants.  Participation in the back-
16 to-work program is intended to be limited to individuals, both
17 U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, who are unemployed, who are
18 receiving welfare, or whose welfare benefits have expired but
19 remain unemployed.
20      The department of agriculture, in cooperation and
21 participation with the department of labor and industrial
22 relations and the department of human services, has attempted to
23 administer the program with limited success.  Although the

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1

 1 department of agriculture has explored other possible funding
 2 sources, including private and federal funds, the program's
 3 efficacy is hampered by an inadequate budget.
 4      The legislature finds that only with proper funding can the
 5 back-to-work pilot program reduce welfare dependency and
 6 unemployment, and assist the State in fulfilling its
 7 constitutional obligation to protect and preserve prime
 8 agricultural lands throughout the State.  The purpose of this Act
 9 is to fund the agricultural back-to-work pilot program in the
10 department of agriculture established under Act 255, Session Laws
11 of Hawaii 1997.
12      SECTION 2.  Act 255, Session Laws of Hawaii 1997, is amended
13 by amending section 4 to read as follows:
14      "SECTION 4.  Administration and purpose of the agricultural
15 back-to-work pilot program.  (a)  The department, in cooperation
16 with other governmental agencies, shall administer the pilot
17 program [on private and public agricultural lands] to create new
18 job opportunities for eligible individuals in agriculture,
19 encourage work participation in agriculture, and reduce welfare
20 dependency throughout the State.  The department shall obtain
21 assistance of the departments of human services and labor and
22 industrial relations to coordinate [the assignment of available
23 agricultural parcels to eligible individuals and supervise the
24 farming, business, and marketing activities of eligible

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1

 1 individuals in the program.], identify, assign, and train
 2 individuals to become program participants.
 3      [(b)  The department shall develop with the assistance of
 4 the departments of human services and labor and industrial
 5 relations a program for eligible individuals to ensure the
 6 cultivation of marketable crops.  The program shall examine the
 7 current supply and demand for various agricultural commodities in
 8 the State, including but not limited to fruit and vegetable
 9 crops, horticultural crops, and biomass crops.  To protect the
10 market shares of local farmers, the program shall encourage the
11 cultivation of crops that are not widely grown in Hawaii, but
12 nonetheless exhibit high potential for marketability locally as
13 well as nationally and internationally.
14      (c)] (b)  In addition to all other responsibilities
15 necessary to administer the pilot program, the department, in
16 cooperation with other governmental agencies, shall:
17      (1)  Work with [owners of agricultural lands in each county
18           to facilitate the use of lands for the development of
19           the program for eligible individuals;] employers who
20           require agricultural workers and obtain a listing of
21           job openings and qualifications;

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1

 1      (2)  Explore all possible funding sources including[,] but
 2           not limited to[,] private, state, and federal sources
 3           to provide eligible individuals in the program with
 4           start-up loans, grants, or other types of financial
 5           assistance; [and]
 6      (3)  Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, convene
 7           a council of agricultural employers whose purpose shall
 8           be to establish an inventory of agricultural-related
 9           jobs available in the industry; and
10      [(3)] (4)  Submit an annual report to the legislature on the
11           status of the pilot program established in this Act.
12 The pilot program shall accumulate a pool of trained, eligible
13 participants and shall act as a clearinghouse to match workers
14 with necessary qualifications, skills, and training with the
15 available job inventory under paragraph (3) of this section."
16      SECTION 3.  Act 255, Session Laws of Hawaii 1997, is amended
17 by amending section 8 to read as follows:
18      "SECTION 8.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 1997; and
19 shall be repealed on July 1, [2000.] 2002."
20      SECTION 4. There is appropriated out of the general revenues
21 of the State of Hawaii the sum of $1 or so much thereof as may be
22 necessary for fiscal year 1999-2000 and the sum of $1 or so much
23 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2000-2001 to fund the

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 1

 1 agricultural back-to-work pilot program established by Act 255,
 2 Session Laws of Hawaii 1997.
 3      SECTION 5.  The sums appropriated shall be expended by the
 4 department of agriculture for the purposes of this Act.
 5      SECTION 6.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 1999.