A look ahead in state Legislature
HONOLULU — There’s a juggling act going on at the Hawaii Legislature as lawmakers negotiate the finer details of hundreds of bills.
Members of the House and Senate are getting together in conference committees this week to bridge the gaps between their goals.
They’re swapping fresh drafts of bills, but most of the time they’re putting off the toughest decisions.
Meanwhile, they’re faced with deciding who gets money from a state budget that’s at least 600 pages long.
And there are only two weeks left until the Legislature is done its work for the year.
Here’s a sampling of what’s coming up this week:
POLICE PROSTITUTION LOOPHOLE: Lawmakers are working out the details on a bill that would revoke an unusual law that allowed police in Hawaii to have sex with prostitutes. That bill is scheduled for a hearing today.
STATE UKELELE: There are several strong candidates for the state instrument, all with loud backers behind them. A bill to make the ukulele the state instrument is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday.
WHAT’S THE MINIMUM?: There seems to be agreement in the Senate and House that workers should be paid more than the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. But whether the hourly wage will be raised to $10 an hour or 10 cents more to $10.10, and how long it will take to increase the wage, remains up in the air.
TREATING AUTISM: Health insurers would be required to provide treatment for children with autism disorders under a proposal that will be heard today. Supporters say parents have had to cash in their 401Ks to provide treatments that can cost up to $60,000 a year.
HEALTH EXCHANGE: The Hawaii Health Connector is counting on the Legislature for $4.7 million to stay afloat, and some lawmakers want changes to its board of directors. Another conference committee meeting is scheduled for today.
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