THE SENATE

S.C.R. NO.

78

TWENTY-FOURTH LEGISLATURE, 2008

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

supporting Federal Financial Assistance for Persons Present in the United states Under the Compacts of Free Association.

 

 


WHEREAS, in 1986, the United States (U.S.) entered into a Compact of Free Association (COFA or Compact) with the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands and, in 1994, the U.S. entered into a similar Compact with the Republic of Palau, that created a unique relationship between the U.S. and the Freely Associated States; and

 

WHEREAS, the terms of the Compacts set out mutually beneficial rights and obligations in several areas, including economic development and defense, and created the right of citizens from the Freely Associated States to freely travel to, and work and reside in the U.S. without durational limit; and

 

WHEREAS, a significant number of COFA citizens travel to and reside in the State of Hawaii; and

 

WHEREAS, many COFA migrants arrive in the State with serious medical needs, and many need financial assistance or housing assistance because of the relative lack of resources they have available; and

 

WHEREAS, when the Compacts were initially executed, Congress recognized there could be a significant effect on the resources of the places to which the COFA citizens migrated and explicitly stated that "it is not the intent of Congress to cause any adverse consequences for an affected jurisdiction." P.L. 108-188, section 104(e)(1)(emphasis added); and

 

WHEREAS, in 1997, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which provided that most non-citizens in the U.S., with limited exceptions, became ineligible for federally funded welfare programs including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Supplemental Security Income; and

 

WHEREAS, COFA migrants were among the non-citizen groups excluded by PRWORA, and not included as one of the exceptions, despite the fact that they are legal residents in the United States, and are more like citizens than immigrants or other legally resident non-citizens, in terms of their ability to reside, work, and attend school in the U.S.; and

 

WHEREAS, despite losing access to federal funds for services to COFA migrants because of PRWORA, the State of Hawaii has continued to make the services available through equivalent state-funded services to address the social, educational, public safety, and medical needs of COFA citizens who legally reside in the State, just as it provides them to other legal residents; and

 

WHEREAS, the State has consistently reported increasing costs each year for the services provided to COFA migrants, the majority of which are not reimbursed by the federal government; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2006, the cost reported by the state agencies to provide services for COFA migrants was over $91,000,000, while the federal assistance to the State as Compact Impact Assistance was approximately $10,600,000; and

 

WHEREAS, the federal government created the relationship with the Freely Associated States that allows their citizens to freely reside in the U.S. with few limitations; and

 

WHEREAS, extending eligibility for federal assistance to the COFA migrants would better support the purposes underlying the COFA; and

 

WHEREAS, providing federal assistance for COFA migrants additionally would alleviate much of the burden on the State's budget while still maintaining the same level of services for the COFA migrants; and

 

WHEREAS, Governor Lingle has repeatedly suggested in reports and letters to the U.S. Department of the Interior that COFA migrants should be made eligible for federal financial assistance, and the Hawaii Congressional Delegation has consistently supported the idea of extending federal assistance to COFA migrants; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2007, Senator Akaka and Senator Inouye introduced a bill in the United States Senate, S. 1676, which would extend eligibility for certain federal benefits to COFA migrants legally residing in the U.S.; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2007, Representative Abercrombie and Representative Hirono introduced a bill in the United States House of Representatives, H.R. 4000, which would extend eligibility for certain federal benefits to COFA migrants legally residing in the U.S.; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-fourth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2008, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Legislature supports the bills currently in Congress, S. 1676 and H.R. 4000, and urges that the bills be heard and moved out of Committee, to receive the consideration of the full Senate and the full House of Representatives, and further to encourage Congress and the President to enact the bills into law, which would benefit COFA migrants in the U.S. regardless of the state or territory in which they reside and support the stated intent of Congress that the relationship created by the Compacts not cause adverse consequences to the states; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, all members of Congress, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Governor of Hawaii, the President of the Republic of Palau, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, and the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

 

 

 

 

OFFERED BY:

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Report Title:

COFA; Federal Assistance; Legislative Support