HONOLULU — The top thing to watch for this week in the Hawaii state Legislature is what didn’t notably happen last week: a promised meeting among House leadership to discuss possible censure of Rep. Faye Hanohano.
The Democrat representing Puna stirred controversy with apparent dismissive and hostile remarks to a college student at a public hearing and to Department of Land and Natural Resources staffers, as described in a letter from that department’s head, William Aila, to House Speaker Joseph Souki. So far, no investigative or disciplinary meetings have been scheduled. That’s expected to change.
Here are five other things to watch for this week at the statehouse:
SMOKING AND SOLAR: Grab seats early to the Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday morning. Several of the most contentious bills of the session so far will be up, including measures to jack up taxes on electronic smoking devices and to ban flavored tobacco products. Another bill would compel a public utility meeting on updating the electric grid to better incorporate home-generated solar power. These bills attracted large, passionate crowds to earlier committee hearings.
INDUSTRIAL HEMP: The University of Hawaii would undertake a two-year research project on industrial hemp under a Senate bill (SB 2175) in committee on Tuesday. The aim would be to use the fast-growing plant to improve soil made toxic by agricultural chemicals.
HEALTH CONNECTOR: Stakeholders will offer recommendations on the fate of the Hawaii Health Connector in an informational session Wednesday. Relevant state agencies, insurers and other advocates are all slated to attend.
MANDATORY KINDERGARTEN: A House bill (HB 14) to make kindergarten mandatory for 5-year-olds in Hawaii comes before the House Finance Committee.
STATE MICROBE: Seemingly picayune, but unexpectedly poetic, is the effort to enshrine a state microbe via SB 3124, which goes before the Senate Technology Committee on Tuesday. The bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri enables the finger-sized Hawaiian bobtail squid to emit light as it hunts at night, camouflaging the shadow the squid casts in moonlight.