HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gambling didn't make it this time around, but hundreds of other bills -- like
same day voter registration -- still have a chance at becoming state law.
It's Crossover at the Capitol -- meaning hundreds of bills are moving
from the House to the Senate and vice versa, as lawmakers reach the halfway
point this legislative session.
Of the 1388 bills that were introduced in the Senate, only 384 of them
are crossing over. 360 of the 1484 proposals introduced by Representatives will
now be considered by Senators.
Among them, a GMO (genetically modified organism) bill that will require
a label on all imported produce that's genetically engineered.
"Truth in labeling," explained Representative John Mizuno,
co-authored House Bill 174. "We believe that all consumers have the
right to know what they're buying and what they're eating-- they're consuming.
We really like to get more information out to the public."
HB 174 passed with Representative(s) Aquino, Cachola, Cullen, Fale, Fukumoto,
Har, Hashem, Ichiyama, Johanson, Jordan, Kobayashi, Ohno, Onishi, Oshiro, Say,
Takai, Tokioka, Tsuji, Yamane voting aye with reservations; Representative(s)
McDermott voting no (1) and none excused (0).
Partially public-financed elections is now one step closer to becoming a
reality after it passed the House. Supporters say it would limit special
interest influence and level the campaign playing field by making elections
more about merit than money.
"We feel that it has merit and some are rather concerned about it how it's
going to affect some of the legislator's races in the future, and of course,
there's always the question of if there's sufficient revenue to take care of
that particular problem," said House Speaker Joseph Souki, before adding
it would allow for more participation in the election process.
HB 1481, House Draft 2 passed with Representative(s) Hanohano, Jordan,
McKelvey, Tokioka voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Fale, Har,
Oshiro voting no (3) and none excused (0).
Another bill Representatives will be closely watching is House Bill 321, which
would allow for same-day voter registration. Supporters say they hope it will
improve voter turnout, which has been one of the lowest in the nation.
Advocates also believe it will significantly increase the number of minorities
who turn up at polling sites.
Houe Bill 321 passed with Representative(s) Cheape, Fale, Fukumoto, Har,
Ichiyama, Kawakami, Oshiro, Say, Tokioka, Tsuji, Ward voting aye with
reservations; Representative(s) Coffman voting no (1) and none excused (0).
A proposal to grown industrial hemp, which passed unanimously in the House, has
already been referred to the Senate's Agriculture committee. Representative
Cynthia Thielen, who co-authored House Bill 154, believes it has the support it
"Once people realize that industrial hemp is not a drug, it will
25-thousand things and products but it won't get you high," said
Representative Thielen, before describing how the plant pulls contaminants from
the soil and can be harvested for bio fuel and hemp crete, a fire-retardant and
termite-proof building material.
Another bill that's expected to move through the Senate is a solar tax credit
compromise aimed at keeping renewable energy affordable without risking a
balanced state budget.
"It's gonna be a gradual step down that's going to be able to allow people
to continue to put solar on their roofs today and as the cost of solar panels
and everything else decreases in the future the solar credit will ramp down to
match that," said Representative Chris Lee, who co-authored House Bill
Often similar bills are introduced in both the House and Senate. This year,
both chambers passed legislation that would require sexual assault victims
access to emergency contraception. They also both forwarded along a green
infrastructure financing bill that would eliminate the high up front costs for
solar and other renewable energies by allowing customers to repay loans on
their electric bills over time.
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