The Hawaii Legislature passed hundreds of bills ahead of a major deadline, making decisions on a variety of issues including smoking in cars and drug overdoses. They also passed bills to pay for air conditioning Hawaii’s public schools, allow women to get up to a year of birth control at a time and criminalize trespassing on state lands.
Here’s a sampling of the bills passed Tuesday in the House and Senate:
— SMOKING IN CARS — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says secondhand smoke can cause heart disease, lung cancer and stroke. The House passed a bill Tuesday to prohibit anyone from smoking in a car when a minor is present. Supporters say children have little or no control over their environments and cannot leave if they’re bothered by secondhand smoke.
— REVERSING DRUG OVERDOSES — Government officials say opioid overdoses are an epidemic. The Hawaii House passed a proposal to make it easier to get medications that counteract the effects of overdoses, and provide immunity for people who administer those medications. It also aims to increase education on the abuse of opioids, such as heroin and prescription drugs like OxyContin.
— COOLING SCHOOLS — Hawaii lawmakers are saying it’s time to get air conditioning in Hawaii’s public schools. Right now, most classrooms aren’t cooled, and teachers say temperatures can reach into the 90s. A proposal passed in the House on Tuesday would pay for air conditioning Hawaii’s public schools and speed up the process to install cooling systems in classrooms. The proposal would also set a goal that all Hawaii’s schools are net-zero in energy use by 2035.
— BIRTH CONTROL FOR A YEAR — Hawaii women would be able to get up to a year of birth control at a time under a bill passed in the House. Supporters say Hawaii’s current policy of only allowing birth control for up to three months may be contributing to high rates of unintended pregnancy in the state.
— RAPE EVIDENCE — The Honolulu Police Department has about 1,500 rape kits that haven’t been tested, like many police departments around the U.S. A bill passed by the Senate would set aside an unspecified amount of funds to begin testing on at least 500 untested evidence kits. It also would require law enforcement agencies to conduct an inventory and prepare a report about their untested kits.
— CRIMINAL TRESPASSING — It may soon be a crime to trespass on state lands after a bill passed in the House. That has homeless advocates concerned that homeless people could end up with a criminal record by camping or hanging out on state land. The state attorney general’s office says the bill is intended to target everyone, not just homeless people.
— SURPRISE INSPECTIONS — Dubbed a “hit piece on mom-and-pop business” by Hawaii Rep. Gene Ward, a bill passed in the House would require the Hawaii Department of Health to conduct unannounced inspections for state-licensed facilities such as medical marijuana dispensaries and care homes. Opponents say many business owners who run care operations for seniors out of their homes would be at a disadvantage, yet advocates say it ensures the facilities are providing a high standard of quality on a day-to-day basis.
— WATER RIGHTS — Companies or other water-rights holders diverting water in east Maui would be able to continue the practice under a bill passed in the Senate. The bill faced strong opposition from hundreds of Maui farmers and residents.
— IVORY BAN — Animal rights groups say Hawaii has the third-largest ivory market in the nation, which could become the largest if left unregulated. Lawmakers in the House are considering a bill to ban the sale of certain wildlife parts, including elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and shark. The bills include some exemptions, including for the age of the ivory and cultural uses.