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Monday, July 28, 2014         

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Minimum wage, kindergarten measures still in play

A smoking ban in public housing and an invasive species bill fall short

By Cathy Bussewitz

POSTED:



Hawaii lawmakers are heading into the final stretch of their legislative session, and the fates of many bills have been decided thanks to the passing of a major deadline.

The bills that generated the most heated discussion are headed to conference committees, which start this week.

Proposals on raising the minimum wage, putting air conditioners in public schools and making kindergarten mandatory all survived.

But attempts to require testing to limit the spread of invasive species and require labeling on genetically modified foods failed.

Both chambers also approved bills that saw little opposition and sent those to the governor. Among those was a bill to increase fines on unlicensed contractors who take advantage of elderly people.

Lawmakers in both chambers had to vote to send bills back to the house of origin.

"Everybody's getting ready for conference, so the real stuff is going to be happening next week," said Carolyn Tanaka, spokeswoman for the House of Representatives.

Here's a look at where many bills stand:

ALIVE

» Mandatory kindergarten. Young ones would start their education earlier under a bill that passed both chambers (SB 2768). Members still have to decide how much money to spend and when the requirement will go into effect.

» Minimum wage. Does 10 cents an hour — up to $208 per year for those who work 40 hours per week — make a difference to the quality of a worker's life? Some senators think so. They'll be debating House members in a conference committee to decide whether the minimum wage will be raised to $10 or $10.10 an hour, and how long it will take to reach that goal (SB 2609).

» Health exchange. The fate of the Hawaii Health Connector may be in the hands of the Legislature, which has the power to give the troubled insurance exchange the money it needs to survive. Lawmakers also are pushing for more transparency and changes to its board of directors in the bill (SB 2470).

» Substance abuse. Inmates at Halawa Correctional Facility could be treated for substance abuse under a proposal (SB 2315) headed for conference.

» Lobbyist spending. A bill that requires lobbyists to report spending after special sessions (SB 2429) will go to conference.

DEAD

» Smoking approved. An attempt to ban smoking in and around public housing projects and low-income housing projects (HB 2577) died in the Senate. The bill would have authorized a landlord to terminate a lease, a punishment that some felt was too harsh.

» Invasive species. A bill that would have prohibited the sale or transport of plants that are diseased or infested with an invasive species (SB 2347) died when it failed to make it out of a committee.

» No refund. The Senate's lone Republican, Sam Slom, sought to give taxpayers a refund when Hawaii had excess revenues. But the bill (SB 3071) never got a hearing.

» Wages unchecked. One of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's bills (HB 2323) sought to raise fines on contractors that didn't pay the prevailing wage, but the proposal died after strong opposition from the Building Industry Association and the General Contractors Association of Hawaii.

» Farming future. Representatives wanted to encourage youth to go into farming, but a bill to fund the Future Farmers of America (HB 2008) languished in the Senate.






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what wrote:
The economy is down but Democrats are hard at work to make it worse. They are spending more money, which means they will have to raise taxes, which will hurt the people. They are trying to raise minimum wage, which will force companies to raise the prices of their products, which will hurt the people. It's what Democrats do, damage the economy and keep the people down.
on April 13,2014 | 02:01AM
ISCREAM wrote:
Not only that but with over $39 billion dollars in debt and unfunded liabilities they a seeking to take on the healthcare albatross that could lead Hawaii to bankruptcy...not good!
on April 13,2014 | 11:07AM
serious wrote:
Every time I go to a store/see a doctor, etc and an employee writes something down and holds the pen in a tight fist I wonder if we start education sooner, will they then be holding the pen with BOTH fists? Enough is enough, let kids play and not sit behind a desk and get obese!! Even birds don't kick their chicks out of the nest until they know how to fly!! Parents reading to their kids is the best early education possible.
on April 13,2014 | 07:12AM
Slow wrote:
Do not educate children. Very bad idea. Hawaii has a higher % of two parents working in the nation. What is your next practical idea? Pretend it's 1952 and Mommy is baking cookies and reading stories to her little kids?
on April 13,2014 | 08:22AM
serious wrote:
Slow, just to clear the record, both of my parents worked 6 days a week, it was called World War II. My grandmother took care of me and my sister, my grandfather also worked full time--they were both German immigrants. When my grandfather died my grandmother came to live with us. When my father died my mother came to live with me and my wife. That's the way it is done. I am all for education. I started at 6 years old and I, and my classmates, can read books, write long sentences and do math in our heads. I have a college degree by working full time and going to college at night for 12 years. That's what America is all about--not a welfare state!!! Work is a four letter word--seldom used in Hawaii.
on April 13,2014 | 09:45AM
ISCREAM wrote:
I think Hawaii had a higher graduation rate in 1952...
on April 13,2014 | 11:08AM
serious wrote:
iscream: I don't want to hog all the blogging here but anyone can Google the Gates Foundation, that's Bill and Melissa, and they report on why kids drop out of HS. The quick answer is that they are bored from too many years of education. I had 12 years and graduated from HS as did my whole class. Now, kids get what? 14-15 years of sitting at a desk? Unions want the teachers employed--and they are Union--who puts our Democratic politicians in office???
on April 13,2014 | 01:09PM
sailfish1 wrote:
If people can't take proper care of children, they shouldn't have children. Just because both parents are working doesn't mean that the government (which means every taxpayer) has to look after their children. There are plenty of Hawaii families where one parent works and the other parent takes care of their children - don't penalize them by making them pay to raise other peoples' children.
on April 13,2014 | 08:32PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Just because both parents are working does NOT mean that the government (meaning all taxpayers) have to care for their children. There are plenty of families where one parent is working and the other takes care of the children during the day - don't penalize them by making them pay for someone else's children.
on April 13,2014 | 08:36PM
soundofreason wrote:
But that would take some amount of SELF discipline by the parents. Much better to shove off that responsibility to taxpayers :/
on April 13,2014 | 09:45AM
soundofreason wrote:
"No refund. The Senate's lone Republican, Sam Slom, sought to give taxpayers a refund when Hawaii had excess revenues. But the bill (SB 3071) never got a hearing">>> Kinda sums it all up now doesn't it.
on April 13,2014 | 09:43AM
copperwire9 wrote:
Yes it certainly does. You'll recall that after Bush took office, he did that. He sent each of us about $600 of that budget surplus the country had, saying it was "the right thing to do." Then the bottom fell out of our economy - the Great Recession - hit, and we were SOL, since our fall-back funds no longer existed.
on April 13,2014 | 10:11AM
soundofreason wrote:
Again, the result of SPENDING.
on April 13,2014 | 10:57AM
ISCREAM wrote:
Anytime there is a surplus it gets spent...there in no rainy day savings...
on April 13,2014 | 11:09AM
soundofreason wrote:
" Smoking approved. An attempt to ban smoking in and around public housing projects and low-income housing projects (HB 2577) died in the Senate. The bill would have authorized a landlord to terminate a lease, a punishment that some felt was too harsh.">>> Just need to cut their rent subsidy by $200 per month each month they're caught smoking. APPARENTLY they have $200 they don't "need" from us to subsidize their rent.
on April 13,2014 | 09:47AM
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