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Legislature to reconvene June 22, to close July 10

The Maui News

The most unusual stop-and-start Legislative session in state history, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, resumes June 22 and runs through July 10, the leaders of the state House and Senate announced Tuesday.

The Legislature will take up a limited number of bills relating to the budget and COVID-19, said House Speaker Scott Saiki in a news release.

“The House and Senate are reconvening the session to address several pressing issues that are outstanding, including the budget and any COVID-19-related and emergency-type bills,” said Saiki. “We are working with our committee chairs to prioritize legislation that must be enacted.”

The Legislature recessed on March 21 due to the coronavirus pandemic and reconvened from May 11 to 22 to handle budget matters related to the shortfalls created by the shutdown of the tourism industry.

Lawmakers allocated federal coronavirus relief funds to Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties. It also set aside $635 million to the rainy day fund for potential use to shore up the unemployment insurance trust fund that has been rapidly depleted by new unemployment claims.

To cope with a sharp drop in state tax revenue, lawmakers passed legislation taking money allocated for vacant positions in state government and from the previously existing balance in the rainy day fund and issuing bonds. These measures were designed to counter a shortfall lawmakers estimated would amount to some $1 billion.

Another bill authorized a variety of infrastructure projects as a way to support the economy as it tries to recover from the effect of the pandemic.

While the budget will be the focus, the House Judiciary and Labor and Public Employees committees are expected to take up police reform measures, including a bill that would require the disclosure of the name of a police officer upon suspension or discharge, a House news release said. This comes in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.

The state Capitol is closed to the public per state and federal social distancing emergency orders. The public will have an opportunity to submit written testimony and observe proceedings through livestreaming, the House news release said.

House floor sessions and some committee hearings will be televised on ‘Olelo Community Television and livestreamed at www.capitol.hawaii.gov/broadcasts.aspx. The broadcast schedule is available at olelo .org/ or www.capitol.hawaii .gov.

Legislators and staff will be allowed into the Capitol through a single entrance, with everyone having their temperature checked, the news release said. Anyone with signs of illness will not be allowed in.

Masks must be worn in all public spaces with physical distancing required.

The current legislative session was originally scheduled to last from Jan. 15 through May 7.

* The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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