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Hawaii News

Marijuana, sex trafficking bills on agenda as time winds down

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Jari Sugano tends to her legal cannabis plants at her home in Mililani. The plants are used to treat her daughter’s seizures.

Hawaii lawmakers are facing down a legislative deadline this week to pass all bills out of the second chamber. Those that don’t pass will die, at least for this legislative session.

But those that pass could still face major challenges as the Senate and House work out differences between their versions.

On Monday lawmakers from Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Guam will meet about the economic impacts of maritime shipping laws.

Here are some bills that face major decisions this week:

» Medical marijuana dispensaries. It’s been nearly 15 years since Hawaii legalized medical marijuana, but patients still are left with few options for legally getting the drug. A bill to establish a medical marijuana dispensary system in Hawaii needs approval from the Senate.

» Sex trafficking ban. Hawaii is behind the times when it comes to banning sex trafficking. A bill to create a law that treats those who are forced into prostitution as victims is awaiting approval from the House.

» Health exchange woes. The Hawaii Health Connector has asked for the ability to issue $28 million in bonds to stay afloat and avoid federal intervention. The bill that could make that happen needs approval from the House.

» Uber upset. A bill that aims to regulate transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft, where customers order rides on a smartphone app, is awaiting approval in the House. Uber has threatened to shut down its Hawaii operations if the insurance regulations included in the current draft of the bill stay in place.

» Gender identity. Members of Hawaii’s transgender community are hoping to change a law so that gender reassignment surgery is no longer required in order to change identification on a birth certificate. That bill is awaiting approval in the Senate.

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