HONOLULU - The Hawaii legislative session is wrapping up as lawmakers scramble to finish negotiations on key bills.
By Friday, lawmakers need to submit the final versions of all bills to the House and Senate clerks. The legislative session will conclude next week, on May 2. Legislators have been busy meeting in conference committees to work out the differences between conflicting House and Senate proposals.
Lawmakers plan to meet this evening to announce more budget agreements for state programs. They have already announced several budget compromises, including more than $200 million over the next two fiscal years to help address the state's unfunded liabilities for employee health benefits.
Advocates for highly debated proposals such as Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposed preschool program are still waiting to hear the budget committee's decision on funding.
Rep. Sylvia Luke said the panel may meet one more time after today to announce budget appropriations for capital improvement projects.
Several conference committees plan to meet today in addition to the budget committee. One will discuss limiting the shield law, which protects journalists from revealing their sources in court proceedings. Committees will also discuss bills changing campaign spending requirements and election procedures.
On Tuesday, conference committees will discuss giving tax credits intended to spur the film industry and scientific innovation in Hawaii.
Lawmakers also plan to consider a bill to require background checks for gun owners bringing firearms from out of state. Also on the agenda are several health-related measures and proposals to allow the state to develop some unused public school land to raise revenue.
Today is also the deadline for lawmakers to agree to joint House and Senate resolutions. Unlike bills, resolutions don't have the force of law.