Despite having far fewer bills than in years past, the Legislature took action on 2,291 bills this session, with 1,219 introduced by the House and 1,072 by the Senate.
After a long session where the $11.2 billion operating budget (which was higher than last year and added more government employees) was not agreed to until 3:30 a.m. on April 28 (the latest a budget has been approved in many years, which held up the fiscal bills), 345 bills were passed, 179 came from the House and 166 from the Senate.
In total, only 17 bills passed as introduced, without modification (14 from the House and three from the Senate). As Sen. Sam Slom points out in his "2012 Legislative Session: No Respect for Hawaii Taxpayers:" the more a bill is modified, the more difficult it is for citizens to follow the actual contents in a bill. Further, he writes: "This year also saw more 'gut and replace' bills earlier and more often than ever before."
What priorities did these 345 bills address? We asked that question of the Legislative Reference Bureau. However, they do not have that information. They said some collect it, but they did not know who. However, they directed the chamber online to www.capitol.hawaii.
gov/report.aspx. There, under "Select a report," one can scroll down and select "Bills Passed" to see the list and details.
We have attempted to categorize the list using their "Relating to" description for each bill to give us a sense of the area addressed by the bill. Some apply to multiple areas and others, with more detailed research done, might be better suited in a different category. However, here is our first attempt to get discussion going on priorities, showing the number of bills that address various topic areas:
* 26 on business/industry.
* 19 on crime and the judicial system.
* 18 on health.
* 12 on appropriations.
* 11 each on special funds and taxes.
* 10 each on education, insurance and uniform acts and code.
* Eight each on agriculture, bonds, the environment and public safety.
* Seven on transportation.
* Six on elections.
* Five each on commissions, councils, employment, housing, motor vehicles, state offices and departments and utilities.
* Four each on civil issues, controlled substances and promotion of them, mortgages and foreclosures, pollution, property and protection.
* Three each on children, child protection, collective bargaining, death, energy, employee retirement systems, information access and technology, land, Native Hawaiian and Hawaiian language, open government and public meetings, military/veterans, records and workers' compensation.
* Two each on adult issues, aging and disability, amending the state constitution, animals, building design and permits, contract proposals and contracts, domestic violence, driver's licensing, economic development, electric vehicles, fire protection, firearms, government, hospitals, land use, libraries, liquor, Medicaid, preservation of history, procurement, public land trust, revenue and vessels.
* One each on anatomical gifts, apprenticeship, bees, ethics, capital improvement projects, cigarettes, clean and sober home, community rehabilitation programs, compensation for Legislature, Judiciary, Executive, delivery of government services, Hawaii Community Development Authority, Honouliuli, long-term care facilities, Makaha Valley, mixed martial arts, notice of Chapter 91 hearings (Department of Labor and Industrial Relations), offenses against public administration, Pacific International Space Center, residency of appointive officers, seawater air conditioning, state budget, tax lien and encumbrance record, volunteer medical assistance services, wastewater, Weed and Seed Program, West Maui Ocean Recreation Management Area and workforce information.
While both the House and the Senate did not get all of their priorities through, this is what got done. Do these priorities match yours?
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.