DCCA: Made it Easier to do Business in Hawai‘i
DCCA made it more convenient, affordable, and easier to do business in Hawai‘i by initiating or improving the following:
• Business Registration Division (BREG) expanded online services, including implementation in 2004 of Hawai‘i Business Express (HBE), a one-stop, web-based business information service. This resource saves businesses, especially those on the neighbor islands or out-of-state, time, effort and money by enabling them to register their new business with the appropriate government agencies (DCCA, DOTAX, DLIR and the IRS) through one online transaction, without having to stand in line or mail in paperwork. Since the start of HBE, more than 70,000 people have made use of the services available, including the formation of more than 19,000 new companies.
• Professional and Vocational Licensing Division (PVL) made significant enhancement of and emphasis (including fee discounts) on online customer services. Professional and vocational licensing online renewal usage continues to increase, for example:
- Contractors who renewed their license online increased – 25 percent in 2006, 59 percent in 2008 and 75 percent in 2010.
- Electrology, mortgage brokers/solicitors, occupational therapy, physical therapy and real estate professionals who renewed their license online reached 94 percent in December 2008, up from 81 percent in 2006.
- Nurses, acupuncturists and plumbers who renewed their license online grew to 79 percent in June 2009, up from 67 percent in 2007.
• BREG initiated “Go Green” business registration filing protocols in 2009, eliminating the distribution of paper annual filings, saving $24,000 in postage and 560 pounds of paper every year.
• Insurance Division (INS) proposed successful new laws that allow trade association health plans (2005), and required insurance companies to offer policies for sole proprietors (2008).
• Division of Consumer Advocacy (DCA) worked with telecommunications companies to help develop a streamlined application process for certification and regulation of commercial mobile radio service providers (i.e., wireless or mobile phone service providers).
• DCA worked to introduce statutory language that would allow small utility companies with annual revenues of less than $2 million to file streamlined rate change requests. DCA also worked to develop the initial templates that are used by the small utility companies to facilitate the streamlined filings.
• INS streamlined insurance filings by becoming part of the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact
• INS reduced the backlog of insurer license application from 150 to 0 and the time spent on the processing of an application from 6-12 months to 60-90 days.
• PVL’s Real Estate Branch implemented in FY10 an online continuing education (CE) system which provided real estate licensees the ability to view the number of CE hours required and earned for the current licensing period, their CE history, and the ability to search for future CE courses being offered by approved CE providers.
DLIR: Ensuring Hawai‘i’s Employees Receive the Rights and Benefits they are Entitled
• Streamlined the Workers’ Compensation Hearings Process
- Improved the efficiency of DLIR’s workers’ compensation hearings process to ensure that injured workers and employers promptly receive their “day in court”. Previously, the workers’ compensation hearings process moved at a sluggish pace, often taking six to eight months to hold a hearing to resolve a dispute, often to the detriment of the injured worker. DLIR implemented a three-point plan to ensure claims are resolved more quickly by: Scheduling hearings within 80 days of the request; meeting its statutory requirement to render decisions within 60 days of the hearings; and tightening its policy for allowing postponements to hearings only in situations where there is good cause.
- In 2009, a webcam internet system was added to enable Neighbor Island workers’ compensation hearings to be conducted remotely from the Honolulu office. The webcam system addressed the problem of shortages of hearings officers on the neighbor islands by having Honolulu hearings officers conduct the hearings. This remote system reduced the time and expenses associated with travel to the neighbor islands, yet allowed parties of interest to participate in the hearings.
• Led Efforts to Reform Hawai‘i’s Workers’ Compensation System
- Through proposed legislation and administrative rules, DLIR introduced concepts to reform Hawai‘i’s workers’ compensation system to ensure injured workers receive quality medical care and disputes are resolved in a timelier manner.
- These reform concepts include: relying on evidence-based medicine to treat injured workers; implementing an alternative dispute resolution process; establishing a physician network of qualified and proven healthcare providers; and involving both employees and employers in the decision making process for the treatment and rehabilitation of injured workers. These proposals would improve the workers’ compensation system to allow workers to promptly return to work to earn their full salary, rather than suffer the economic hardship of being out of work.
- Although the legislature rejected any efforts to reform the system, the workers’ compensation community, including physicians and unions, gradually accepted these concepts and has voluntarily incorporated them in their practice. In fact, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and several of their signatory contractors incorporated these major reform concepts in a collective bargaining agreement they signed and was approved by the DLIR in 2006.
• Ensured Injured Workers Receive a Fair Hearing
- DLIR brought the National Judiciary College to Hawai‘i to train all of its workers’ compensation hearings officers to improve their skills in conducting fair, impartial and efficient hearings, and issuing clear and concise decisions. This is the same college that trains many of Hawai‘i’s appointed judges.
DLIR: HUI Express
• In 2005, DLIR launched the HUI Express, allowing employers to file their unemployment insurance quarterly wage reports online through DLIR’s website. This online filing system is being used by at over 5,000 employers.
Improved Service and Convenience with One-Stop Service
DoTAX: One-Stop Service
• DOTAX implemented One-Stop Service, designed to provide the public with the highest level of customer service and efficiency when dealing with the Department by providing taxpayers with one point of contact to conduct their business as opposed to dealing with separate divisions or offices. As of October 1, 2003, all customer services within the Department of Taxation were centralized and integrated at a statewide level within Taxpayer Services, whether through the Call Center, customer service windows, and/or via electronic or paper correspondences. In October 2004, the Department expanded this One-Stop Service philosophy to provide a “one-stop shop” website that enables taxpayers to register and manage their businesses online. Services include online filing of various tax returns, online payments, and online tax clearances.