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”Hawaii State Legislature One-Sixth Over; Only Bill Passed Funds Legislature at the Cost of $27 Million”

The Hawaii State Legislature is in full swing, already one sixth of the way through the 60-working-day session, which began Jan. 19, 2005.

The Hawaii State Senate, which did not limit the number of bills per Senator this year, is reviewing more than 1,900 bills this session, with committee chairs determining which bills will get hearings and move forward in the process. Most Republican bills in the Senate never see the light of day because all of the chairs are Democrats as are 20 of the 25 state Senators.

In the state House, more than 1,700 bills were introduced by the 51 members, which consists of 10 Republicans and 41 Democrats. As in the Senate, all of the House committee chairs and committee vice chairs are Democrats, so Republicans have an added challenge getting their proposals through.

But neither the House nor the Senate hesitated to pass the very first bill of the session — SB 543, which funds the operations of the state Legislature and its attached agencies to the tune of $27 million.

In addition to making sure they get paid, lawmakers are tackling such controversial subjects as physician assisted suicide, installing red light cameras, raising the minimum wage to a “living wage,” giving public union members additional raises and benefits at the taxpayers

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