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Hawaii House, Senate plan flurry of final votes

By Sam Eifling

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 6:00 a.m. HST, Mar 4, 2014

Hawaii lawmakers plan a fast-paced session of final votes as a major legislative deadline approaches.

The House and Senate must pass most bills by the end of Tuesday to send them to the other chamber. Those that miss the crossover deadline can't become laws.

The floor sessions scheduled to begin Tuesday morning will be packed with votes. The House is scheduled to take up nearly 200 bills, while the Senate is scheduled to consider more than 300.

Some of the measures the Senate will take up are joint majority package bills prioritized by Democrats. The House already passed its versions of measures to address invasive species, aging and climate change preparation.

The House floor session could last about 13 hours.

The bills cover a wide spectrum of issues.

Hawaii lawmakers are trying to tighten restrictions to keep invasive species off the islands. One bill (SB2347) would hold a nursery liable if its stock was infected and it failed to treat the virus. Another (SB2267) would help fund the Hawaii Invasive Species Council.

The feel of public schools could change under two proposals. One bill (HB14) would make kindergarten mandatory throughout the state. Another, (SB2424) would set aside money to require schools to install air conditioners.

Lawmakers say Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the country, but it's the ninth poorest state. Proposals aimed at raising the minimum wage are on the agenda. One bill (SB2267) would set aside funds for the development of micro-housing units contained in 220 to 320 square feet in a state known for expensive housing.


Associated Press writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed to this report.

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