Legislative Deadline Nears: Maui Conservation Bill among 325 to Advance
By Wendy Osher
The Hawaii State Senate has narrowed its list of bills from 1,500 at the beginning of the session to 325. The bills remaining were passed out of the Senate in preparation for the First Crossover tomorrow, which is the initial deadline of the 2011 session.
The bills that passed on third reading cover areas including the economy, human services, medical care, education and the infrastructure of the islands.
Among the bills still alive this session is Senate Bill 580, which establishes two marine life conservation districts in Maui. Supporters of the bill say it will protect Hawaii’s fragile reef system from over-harvesting of coral reef wildlife by those in the aquarium trade. Tropical fish collectors, meantime, have testified against the bill saying it fails to address the true threats and instead penalizes hobbyists. Conservation districts already exist at Honolua-Mokule’ia Bay and at Molokini Shoal.
Under the bill, the Department of Land and Natural Resources shall establish two additional marine life conservation districts, each one extending three miles or less from the shoreline, as defined in section 205A-1, of the island of Maui into state marine waters.
Other bills on the radar that advanced out of the Senate include:
- Senate Bill 651, which requires organizations conducting home foreclosures to engage in a resolution process with the homeowner before finalizing foreclosures;
- Senate Bill 255 which creates annual exemptions from the General Excise Tax for some school supply purchases.
- Senate Bill 904 regarding homelessness which requires the Department of Human Services to find suitable properties that can be converted to affordable rental housing projects;
- Senate Bill 912, another homeless bill, which appropriates funds for a housing placement program for the homeless and to increase the number of affordable housing projects in the state; and
- Senate Bill 1482, regarding energy alternatives which allows the Public Utilities Commission to consider capital improvement investments for renewable energy and energy efficiency even though there may be short term expenses.
The bills now go to the State House of Representatives which will conduct its own review and determination. Likewise, bills that passed out of the House will be considered by the Senate. All legislation must be finalized and forwarded to the Governor by Thursday, May 5, the last day of the session.