Hawai'i Legislature scorecard
Senators said Wednesday that they might dip into the state's "rainy day fund" to help pay for public worker raises, including those of the Hawai'i State Teachers Association.
The fund was set up two years ago as part of the state's settlement with tobacco companies over health costs caused by smoking. The tobacco settlement is to provide $1.3 billion over 25 years, with 40 percent going into the rainy day fund.
Senators said they're considering rewriting the law that established the fund to allow the money to be spent on education expenses, freeing up money elsewhere to cover the raises.
Hawai'i's public libraries could lose their security guards if proposed budget cuts ordered by Gov. Ben Cayetano take effect.
Last month, Cayetano ordered all department heads to reduce their budgets by 1 percent to ensure the state can cover anticipated expenditures for the rest of the fiscal year.
The Department of Public Safety, which provides the library guards, has included them in its cuts. State Librarian Virginia Lowell said she can't afford to pay for the guards from her own budget.
The state's chief negotiator, Davis Yogi, will likely continue as director of the Department of Human Resources Development.
The appointment was approved Wednesday by the Senate Labor Committee and must now be approved by the full Senate.
Schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu said Friday that some schools may reopen if teachers strike this week.
HSTA is scheduled to go on strike April 5 if an agreement with the state is not reached. While public schools are closed Thursday and Friday, administrators will assess "their school's capacity to care for and provide instructional services to students."
If schools reopen, priority will be given to students in lower elementary school grades, eighth-grade and high school seniors, LeMahieu said.
A bill that would require wholesale tour companies to pay an extra tax of $7.25 per day for each hotel room they sell is headed for a vote by the full Senate.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved the bill Thursday despite opposition from some lawmakers and tourism-related organizations.
The surcharge was proposed to plug a "loophole" in hotel tax that allows wholesalers to escape paying the state's hotel room. The loophole may be costing the state up to $45 million a year.
The House Health Committee deferred a resolution Tuesday that recommended moving the state's juvenile sex offender treatment center from Pearl City to Kahi Mohala psychiatric hospital in 'Ewa.
Several lawmakers suggested the final decision be left up to the Department of Health or the governor's administration.