Guns, sharks and pot all lose in Legislature this year
HONOLULU — Plenty of measures that have been proposed in the Hawaii Legislature no longer have a shot this session, including bills to ease access to medical marijuana and outlaw shark and ray fishing.
As the midpoint of this year’s legislative session approaches, anything is technically possible. But among thousands of bills introduced, some notables are now considered dead.
Proponents of the following five items can take solace in the old baseball axiom: There’s always next year.
EASIER POT — Full-blown legalization of marijuana generated plenty of popular support but was an unsurprising flop. After that, supporters held out hope for decriminalizing small amounts and patching up Hawaii’s flaky medical marijuana policies. But the Legislature punted on those issues among a host of marijuana-related bills. However, an industrial hemp research bill (SB 2175) is still kicking.
HOMELESS PROTECTION — The Legislature is moving on several bills to address homelessness. Two bills that didn’t make the cut: One to increase penalties on anyone who targets and harms a person who is homeless, and one that would have established a campground for homeless people at Sand Island state recreation area.
GROCERY TAXES — Hawaii’s high food prices and high cost of living pinch the islands’ poorest, leading advocates to argue that the state’s tax on groceries is regressive and punitive. A bill that would have exempted groceries from the general excise tax couldn’t get out of Senate committee.
SHARK PROTECTION — Rep. Faye Hanohano, of Puna, drew scorn when she upbraided a college student who spoke in favor of a ban on shark and ray fishing at a committee hearing. But Hanohano, chairwoman of the Committee on Ocean Resources, offered a more meaningful retort when that committee deferred the measure, consigning it to legislative limbo.
THE KITCHEN SINK — The list of nonstarters also includes the usual raft of odds and ends. Hawaii won’t get a concealed weapons law this year. Honolulu won’t get a Koreatown. Dogs won’t be allowed in bars, but humans will still be allowed to ride in the back of pickups on freeways. Fines for riding noisy mopeds did not increase.
The state won’t fund a sumo wrestling museum. It has also declined to study the economics of adopting Daylight Saving Time.
A measure to shrink the Legislature to a House-sized unicameral body didn’t gain any traction. It was introduced in the Senate by its lone Republican member, Sam Slom. Senate committees declined to consider it.
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