Among hundreds of measures approved by the Hawaii State Senate today were proposals to decriminalize marijuana, classify some peeping toms as sex offenders, amend the procurement code and re-open Kulani Prison on the Big Island.
The bills will be sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
The marijuana measure would make possession of an ounce or less a civil violation punishable by a fine of up to $100.
It was opposed in committee hearings by the state Attorney General and prosecuting attorneys from Honolulu and the Big Island.
Numerous proponents testified that the financial costs to government of arresting, prosecuting and punishing small possession cases far exceeded the benefits to society.
The bill to reclassify certain types of sex offenses would apply to individuals convicted of using devices to observe or record people who are unclothed or engaged in sexual activity.
If enacted into law, such individuals would be required to register as convicted sex offenders.
Various measures to change how state government awards contracts won Senate approval. One would clarify a current state law requiring that 80 percent of the workforce on certain construction contracts be Hawaii residents.
Another bill would allow bids on large, expensive construction projects to combine offers from designers and construction firms, called “design-build” procurement.
The same bill would permit the payment of unspecified fees to losing bidders to help offset increasingly expensive costs of submitting offers for very large and complex public works projects.
The Senate also moved various measures affecting the state Department of Public Safety. One would reverse the decision of former Gov. Linda Lingle to close Kulani Prison on the Big Island and transfer inmates there to other correctional facilities in an out of state.
Another bill would require the department to report on goals including reduction of inmate assaults on correctional officers and reductions in criminal recidivism by inmates.
The Senate also passed a bill that would allow certain “non violent” prisoners to work on Office of Hawaiian Affairs projects aimed at preserving and restoring historic Hawaiian sites.
Another bill aimed at lessening the importation of illegal fireworks into the state would allow the use of specially trained dogs in inspections of seaborne cargo containers.