By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER
HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers are gearing up for a marathon of voting this week as they figure out which of the session’s remaining initiatives merit further debate.
Thursday is the deadline for lawmakers in the House to decide whether they disagree with the Senate’s amendments to bills, and vice versa. If they don’t agree, lawmakers can send the bills conference committees. That’s when lawmakers from both chambers form groups that meet to flesh out the details of bills.
House Chief Clerk Brian Takeshita says representatives will consider some 200 bills this week. In the Senate, Chief Clerk Carol Taniguchi says lawmakers will vote on about 150 proposals.
The bills address a broad range of issues including highly debated initiatives to repeal the Public Land Development Corp., develop public school lands and raise the state minimum wage.
Lawmakers will also vote on proposals to set aside money to address homelessness, innovation, obesity and foster care services. Several tax-related bills are also scheduled for a vote.
Absent from the agenda are controversial social issues such as gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization, which failed earlier this session. Senators plan to consider one gun control measure but it has been significantly whittled down.
Takeshita and Taniguchi say most of the votes will take place on Tuesday.
Critics say that it’s easy for bills to die or drastically change in conference committees without the public knowing why. No public testimony is accepted during that time. The committees are scheduled to begin in mid-April.
In addition to voting on numerous bills this week, lawmakers also plan to hold several hearings to debate resolutions and nominees for various boards.