Medical marijuana bill extinguished (Posted April 2, 2010)
HONOLULU — A proposal to create medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawai'i has gone up in smoke. The idea is dead because the House Judiciary Committee refused to consider the measure before a legislative deadline yesterday. Lawmakers were worried that medical marijuana dispensaries would fuel illegal sales of the drug to recreational users, said Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu. See story.
Measure would aid search for elderly (Posted March 27, 2010)
Lawmakers are considering a measure that would look into alerting the public when a senior citizen is missing, similar to the Maile Amber Alert system used for abducted children. Last year alone, nearly 90 senior citizens in Hawai'i went missing, said Rep. John Mizuno, D-30th (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter). See story.
Hawaii legislators considering 'safe zones' for homeless (Posted March 27, 2010)
As the state struggles to address homelessness amid a growing budget deficit, lawmakers are supporting what they say is a low-cost, out-of-the-box solution that would create designated "safe zones" for the homeless to set up tents. No money or land have been set aside for the zones, and the idea faces strong opposition. See story.
House panel to consider cockfighting resolution (Posted March 26, 2010)
A resolution that would recognize cockfighting as a cultural activity will be heard by a House committee Monday morning. See story.
$40M sought for Quest (Posted March 25, 2010)
Gov. Linda Lingle has asked state lawmakers for an emergency $40 million to help make April payments to health insurers for Quest, the state's health plan for the poor. See story.
Flag resolution moving in Senate (Posted March 25, 2010)
State senators are moving a resolution that would urge community associations to follow a federal law that allows residents to display American flags, but several military veterans are upset because the resolution does not have the full force of state law. See story.
Hawaii state workers face more pay cuts under 6-year plan (Posted March 19, 2010)
Gov. Linda Lingle presented an updated six-year financial plan to the Legislature yesterday that presumes another round of pay cuts for state workers and reduces benefits for people in Quest, the state's health plan for the poor. See story.
DHS chief blasts budget cuts (Posted March 18, 2010)
The head of the state Department of Human Services yesterday said the proposed budget for her agency would result in cuts that are "draconian." But the chairman of the House Finance Committee said Lillian Koller's assertion that funds are being cut from her budget are incorrect. See story.
House OKs $10 billion budget (Posted March 9, 2010)
The Hawaii House yesterday voted on a $10 billion state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that is $41.2 million less than what Gov. Linda Lingle requested. See story.
Hawaii lawmakers considering tighter regulation of mopeds (Posted March 8, 2010)
Norman and Jennifer Shishido, of Kaimukī, readily acknowledge that mopeds are a convenient, relatively inexpensive means of transportation for many people. But they've also seen, heard, even dodged enough of the high-pitched, two-wheeled vehicles to believe that something needs to be done to ensure that moped operators avoid injury and respect the safety — and sanity — of those around them. See story.
Hawaii may depend on bonds to help finance home solar systems (Posted March 7, 2010)
Hawaii — Trying to nudge homeowners to convert to solar power and reduce dependency on electricity, Gov. Linda Lingle and state lawmakers may authorize state bonds that would finance loans to cover the up-front cost of installation. See story.
Hawaii budget draft adds $50M to reduce teacher furlough days (Posted March 5, 2010)
Hawaii: The state House Finance Committee yesterday approved a state budget draft that would add $50 million to reduce teacher furloughs next school year but would also make cuts to public education that could increase class size. See story.
Furlough bills move forward (Posted March 3, 2010)
Showing Gov. Linda Lingle and educators that options are available, Hawaii lawmakers yesterday moved bills that would dedicate money from the state's hurricane relief fund and rainy-day fund to reduce teacher furloughs. See story.
Panel caps room-tax share (Posted February 24, 2010)
In a potential break for counties, the state House Finance Committee last night agreed to cap the amount of hotel room tax revenue that goes to counties rather than scoop all of the revenue to help close the state's budget deficit. See story.
Flag-flying bill fails to gain support for revival (Posted February 19, 2010)
HONOLULU — A state House lawmaker yesterday tried to free a bill that would allow residents of planned communities to erect flag poles and display the U.S. or state flags. The motion failed, but state Rep. Kymberly Pine, the bill's sponsor, received a promise from majority House Democrats to explore a task force to study flag displays. See story.
Mental health services reined in (Posted February 18, 2010)
A slew of cutbacks to state-funded mental health services, including tightening eligibility for new clients to exclude those with PTSD, borderline personality disorder and some forms of major depression, is meant to rein in "unsustainable" growth over the last decade, Health Department officials said yesterday at a briefing. See story.
Senate delays vote on Kubo (Posted January 30, 2010)
Hawaii: The state Senate yesterday postponed a vote on the nomination of former U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo for Circuit Court judge until Wednesday after senators said they wanted more time to consider his record. Senate leaders believed the vote would have been close after the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee deadlocked on Kubo's nomination on Thursday. See story.
Civil-unions bill at pivotal point (Posted January 29, 2010)
State House Democrats will meet in private caucus this morning to decide whether to bring a civil unions bill to a vote or whether to indefinitely postpone action this session. Private vote counts in the House last night found that barely a majority of lawmakers now support the bill, well short of the two-thirds state House Speaker Calvin Say said he wanted to show that the House could override a potential veto. See story.
Bottle fee could cut furloughs (Posted January 20, 2010)
Add this to the proposals on how to end public school furlough days: a 5-cent surcharge on bottles. State Rep. John Mizuno, who will introduce a bill for the surcharge, said the additional bottle fee would generate millions of dollars to supplement other money from the hurricane relief or the rainy day funds. See story.
Crime bill would put 'halo' around schools (Posted January 20, 2010)
Five months after 18-year-old Iris Rodrigues-Kaikana was killed and her body dumped in a pedestrian walkway across the street from Farrington High School, her family members are pushing for a new measure being introduced this session to increase the penalties for violent crimes committed in or near schools. See story.
Hawaii governor, Legislature began session on high note, ended in a 'mess' of contention (Posted May 17, 2009)
Gov. Linda Lingle and state House and Senate leaders opened the year with optimistic talk about collaboration, about putting their political differences aside to confront the state's budget deficit, but that spirit did not survive more than a few weeks in See story.
How major bills fared at the Capitol (Posted May 17, 2009)
State lawmakers adjourned the session on May 8 after reviewing hundreds of bills. Here is the status of some of the more significant bills. Bills that have passed have been sent to Gov. Linda Lingle for her signature or veto. The governor can also allow bills to become law without her signature. Lawmakers can override vetoes by two-thirds' votes in each chamber. See story.
Letdown for civil union backers (Posted May 9, 2009)
Supporters of a civil unions bill that's dead for this legislative session vowed yesterday to take up cause again in January, but conceded they are in for an uphill battle. "I don't know where we're headed," said Cecilia Fordham, a member of the board of Interfaith Alliance Hawaii, alluding to the state Senate's surprising actions on Thursday. See story.
Hawaii taxes to go up July 1 as lawmakers override governor (Posted May 9, 2009)
The dramatic final week of the state legislative session wound down yesterday with Democratic lawmakers following through on a promise to override Gov. Linda Lingle's vetoes of four measures that will increase taxes to balance the state budget. See story.
Hawaii enacts legislation on electric cars, alternative energy (Posted May 9, 2009)
Hawai'i will become one of only a few states that require large parking lots to reserve spaces for electric cars and to provide recharging capacity if a bill passed by the Legislature is signed into law. See story.