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Legislative preview: Preschool, pot, land

February 25, 2013
By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - The state Legislature is technically on recess, but Hawaii lawmakers aren't taking a break.

The last day of the Legislature's mandatory five-day recess is Wednesday. On Thursday, lawmakers will resume full sessions when they vote on measures in each chamber and receive messages from the governor.

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means plans to vote on the governor's proposal for statewide preschool Wednesday along with a slew of other key bills. The governor says the preschool initiative is his highest priority this year.

The committee also plans to vote on several bills aimed at reforming the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, including one requiring legislative approval for high salaries. Lawmakers have been critical of what they see as bloated salaries and benefits for university officials.

Also on the committee's agenda are bills to decrease renewable energy tax credits, reform charter schools, and create a gun buyback program and gun safety programs.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee will join the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to vote on a highly debated bill to direct the governor to acquire North Shore land owned by Turtle Bay Hotel and Resort.

Many North Shore residents want the state to buy the land because they are worried about the effect of further commercial development in the rural area. Others see increasing development as a pathway to more jobs and affordable housing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Tuesday a bill to make possessing up to an ounce of marijuana a civil violation.

The House Committee on the Judiciary plans to decide Tuesday on bills limiting the use of leaf blowers and instituting Election Day voter registration.

The committee will also vote on a proposal to make it illegal to solicit a minor for prostitution.

The House committee on consumer protection will consider several bills related to electricity and health.



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