HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers plowed through a mountain of bills Tuesday in advance of a legislative deadline, tackling everything from controlling invasive species to increasing the minimum wage.
Thursday is the deadline for both bodies to send most bills back to the chamber of origin. The Legislature tackled most of the work Tuesday to allow ample time to handle amendments. Combined, the House and Senate considered hundreds of bills.
The Senate flew through a heap of proposals with little to no discussion, except for a few remarks of dissent from the lone Republican, Sen. Sam Slom.
At one point, the senators approved a list of 98 bills at once. Proposals that sailed through in that batch ranged from treating adult sex offenders to modernizing Hawaii’s electric grid.
Sen. Les Ihara expressed reservations on a handful of proposals that were “gut-and-replace” bills, meaning their original contents had been scrapped and replaced with new proposals without a public hearing, but he still approved the measures.
“I basically flagged any gut-and-replace bills,” Ihara said.
The Senate completed its votes on about 175 bills in just over one hour. While wrapping up the proceedings, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim jokingly asked which senator won the bet about how quickly they would finish.
The House was set to debate a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour starting in 2018. Lawmakers in the Senate originally wanted to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but House members are voting to reduce that amount to $10 an hour.
Bills about early childhood education, kindergarten, lobbyists and salaries of government officials are on the agenda.