By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER
HONOLULU (AP) - The Senate Committee on Ways and Means has voted to approve an increase in Hawaii's minimum wage.
The committee also passed a bill Wednesday to allow Hawaii's regional hospitals to become private. Despite voting yes, several senators said they had reservations about the proposal's potential impacts on neighbor islands.
A proposal by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie for a statewide preschool program is also moving forward.
The senators voted to increase legislative oversight of University of Hawaii salaries. The university's finances have been under scrutiny since officials lost $200,000 in a scam last year.
The committee also agreed to require background checks on people who register firearms purchased in other states.
Bills to reform charter schools and to expand and extend tax credits for the film industry also passed the committee.