Medicare patients among topics as Hawaii Legislature begins - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Copy-Medicare patients among topics as Hawaii Legislature begins

By The Associated Press
Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - The latest on Hawaii's Legislature beginning its 2016 legislative session. All times local.

2 p.m.

Hawaii House Speaker Joe Souki wants to require practicing doctors in Hawaii to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients. The Democrat says physicians who refuse to treat those patients shouldn't be allowed to reapply for a state license.

Souki talked about his upcoming legislation on Wednesday, the first day of the 2016 legislative session.

On the housing shortage, Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English says senators have been combing their districts for vacant housing units that need repair. He says that can be a quick way to help alleviate homelessness. He also says spending money on affordable housing is an important part of the long-term solution.

Leaders in both chambers want more oversight on how the state is spending the taxpayers' money.

11:15 a.m.

Homelessness and affordable housing will be key topics as the Hawaii Legislature begins its 2016 legislative session.

The Hawaii House and Senate began their legislative session Wednesday.

As Sen. President Ron Kouchi began the chamber's first official meeting of the year, the senators sang a song about Hawaii while wearing flower lei.

Kouchi says Hawaii's homelessness problem spans all the islands. He says the Senate is putting together a package of bills on the topic.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki says the state should focus on addressing homelessness and other recurring problems using existing resources.

Leaders of both chambers held a moment of silence for the Marines who are missing after a helicopter crash last week.

They spoke about creating a more viable economy in Hawaii with higher wages.

10:10 a.m.

People were singing and chanting outside the chambers and students and families were lining up to get a seat before the session began.

Housing advocate Rev. Bob Nakata says he's hopeful that the Legislature will provide more money for affordable housing this year. He says the housing crisis is so bad that it can't be ignored.

Democratic Rep. Matt LoPresti is introducing legislation to regulate police body cameras and to protect online privacy for students and adults.

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