House GOP hopeful bills will be heard


HONOLULU — Republican leaders in the Hawaii House say they’re hopeful their package of bills proposing everything from voter referendums to limits on fee increases will be heard in a chamber dominated by Democrats.

The Republicans have 30 bills pending as part of the House minority caucus, including nine new bills for 2014. The bills left over from 2013 can be picked up again without starting the process over as part of the Legislature’s two-year setup.

House Minority Leader Aaron Johanson said he and the six other Republicans in the House are focused on making policy recommendations based on common sense rather than ideology unlikely to gain support among Democrats, who hold 44 of the House seats.

“All too often in the Capitol, people cater to narrow constituencies, but at the end of the day I think we’re charged with making the biggest impact possible — positive impact in people’s lives,” Johanson said.

House Speaker Joseph Souki did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment from The Associated Press.

The bills were introduced and passed first reading Tuesday as common for all bills entering the House and Senate. The Legislature was in recess Wednesday, and it’s now up to committee leaders to decide which of the thousands of bills should move forward to committee hearings.

One bill makes kindergarten mandatory and lowers the age kids would be required to start going to school. Another requires that proposals to increase or decrease public service fees follow state rules for public meetings.

Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang, minority floor leader, said she hopes the proposals are seen as practical from a party that’s seen in Hawaii as appealing to a small number of people.

“What we wanted to do is show … we have very real ideas that reflect real people in Hawaii, real local people and what they actually want,” she said.