Legislature takes on tricky bills this week


HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers will be doing some heavy lifting this week as they meet to tackle the trickiest bills.

Both chambers have passed hundreds of measures, but the finer details of many proposals will be hashed out in conference committees, which will begin popping up this week.

One of the biggest projects will be sorting out the state budget. After the state revised its revenue projections, the Senate made cuts to what the governor and House proposed, slashing about $168 million out of next year’s budget.

There also will be hearings on resolutions that aim to shore up the health and safety of children and the elderly.

The Legislature is planning a short week and will take the day off to observe Good Friday.

Here’s a look at what’s ahead:

DOLING OUT MONEY: Lawmakers will be combing through the thick state budget, ironing out differences on what should be trimmed or cut. On the chopping block are salaries at University of Hawaii, money for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council and nearly $5 million for elder care programs.

CHILDREN’S WORDS: Are children who are deaf or hard of hearing getting enough resources to learn oral speaking skills? The Senate Committees on Health and Education will take up that question in a hearing Tuesday.

FAMILY CARE: Advocates for family caregivers feel that too often, they’re left out of the process when their loved ones are released from a hospital. A joint-committee Senate hearing will be held on Tuesday on a proposal to form a group in the Department of Health to examine the issue.

FERTILE COUPLES: Fertility treatment is costly, but it often is not covered in health insurance plans. That’s why some would like to make fertility treatments a mandatory part of health insurance coverage. The House Health and Consumer Protection Committees will meet on the topic Monday.

LAND LEADERS: A hearing on nominees for various roles in parks and on the Land Use Commission will be held on Monday afternoon.