Don't pay your license fee! New law relieves Hawaii teachers of annual payments

Ignore any reminders for your June 30 payment deadline

Update on June 27, 2019: In the last 24 hours, the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB) have received numerous inquiries about how this change affects teachers. The good news is that HTSB is able to reverse transactions through its online payment system from June 21, the date the governor signed the bill. If you made a payment prior to June 21, please do not try to cancel your payment or you will risk a forfeiture of your license. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom of this post for more information.

A new law is providing much-needed relief for Hawaii teachers, counselors, and librarians.

With Act 116, you no longer have to pay a teaching license fee.

Gov. David Ige recently signed House Bill 1070 into law, which appropriates more than $1 million to the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, and allows the board to remove fees for licenses, permits, and applications.

"HTSB is pleased that no Hawaii teacher will need to pay for a license out of his/her own pocket," said HTSB Licensing Specialist Tracey Idica.

Act 116 becomes law on June 28, ahead of your June 30 payment deadline. This means as of Friday, licenses and permits that are pending payment will be active. Feel free to ignore any reminders for pending payments, the board says.

It's great news for new and untenured teachers who no longer have to pay $56 each year.

Unfortunately, there will be no reimbursements for payments that have already been made and processed. All funds previously collected will revert to the State of Hawaii General Fund.

If you have any questions, please contact HTSB directly. They'll respond quicker if you send a secure message by logging into your online account, but you can also contact them by phone at (808) 586-2617, or by email at htsb@hawaii.gov.

Prior to Act 116, all teachers were required to pay for five-year licenses through annual pro-rated payments—but thanks to HSTA's collective bargaining agreement, the Hawaii Department of Education covered fees for tenured teachers who were rated effective and highly effective.

Hawaii is now one of just a few states in the country that will not charge any of its teachers license fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) I already paid my fee prior to your announcement on June 26. Can I get a refund?
Unfortunately, this is not possible, because the bill does not become law until June 28. The good news is that HTSB is able to reverse transactions through its online payment system from June 21, the date the governor signed the bill.

Because of Hawaii Administrative Rules (§8-54-2.4 License and permit fees), HTSB cannot refund processed fees for payments prior to June 21. Money that has already been processed and transferred to the State of Hawaii’s general fund cannot be removed and returned.

If you made a payment prior to June 21, please do not try to cancel your payment or you will risk a forfeiture of your license. 

2) Does this change in the law mean that Hawaii teachers will never have to pay license fees again?
No. Act 116 signed by the governor allocates money out of the state general fund to HTSB to fully cover its operational costs. It does not specifically eliminate fees altogether or change the board’s ability to charge teachers a licensing fee. As a result of this funding, HTSB made the decision to stop charging teachers for their licenses.

This increased funding only covers the next two years because the state budget is on a two-year cycle. Now that it is in place, HTSB anticipates continued funding by the legislature will fully cover their costs going forward. However the HTSB has the authority to decide to cut services or reinstate fees for educators in the future should its budget be cut.

3) What’s the difference between the HSTA and HTSB?
People often confuse the two. The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) is the union that represents all public school teachers, counselors and librarians on contractual matters with the Department of Education and public charter schools. The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB) is an independent state agency that handles licensing of Hawaii K-12 teachers.

4) It doesn’t seem right that those of us who were responsible and paid early are getting punished. Why did it take so long to tell us we didn’t have to pay?
Lawmakers passed HB 1070 this past Legislative session, allowing general fund monies to fully fund the HTSB. If this happened, the board intended to stop charging teachers licensing fees. However, it was possible that the bill would have been vetoed or go into law without the governor’s signature on July 9, which fell after the June 30 payment deadline.

The governor informed legislators on June 25 that he had signed HB 1070. As soon as HTSB verified the bill had been signed, they contacted HSTA and the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission to help get the word out as quickly as possible. HTSB’s web developer was also contacted to remove the payment button to stop additional payments from being collected.

As soon as HSTA got word from HTSB on the morning of June 26 about its decision to stop charging licensing fees, HSTA posted a web story and shared it through social media at 10:20 a.m. Later in the day, after confirming further details with HTSB, the HSTA sent an email blast to its members.

5) Why did the HTSB keep sending me payment reminders if they knew this was going to happen?
Last year, teachers who did not make their payment before the due date were upset that they were not notified. In response to that concern and as a service for teachers, HTSB adjusted its system to generate multiple reminders starting in January of this year. Unfortunately, HTSB could not confirm fees would be removed until HB 1070 was signed into law on June 21.

6) I already called my credit card company and reversed my payment. What do I do?
Please call them back and ask to cancel the reversal. Otherwise you risk forfeiting your license.

7) Does the license fee elimination apply to charter school teachers?

8) Does the license fee elimination apply to teachers who need an emergency hire permit, CTE permit or Hawaiian permit?
Yes. HTSB has decided to eliminate all license, permit, and application fees. 

9) Does the license fee elimination apply to substitute teachers?
Substitute teachers do not require a teaching license and do not need to pay a license fee. The DOE handles all matters for substitute teachers.

Featured photo provided by the Office of the Governor.

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