BY JIM DOOLEY – As rains pounded down on the state Capitol, members of the House of Representatives hunkered down in a marathon session that saw passage of nearly 300 bills to be sent along for further consideration by the Senate.
Numerous measures intended to stimulate the state economy and create jobs were approved, along with dozens of others touching virtually every aspect of island life.
House lawmakers took steps to once again approve use of cameras to catch traffic scofflaws, including speeders and red light jumpers.
The bills would authorize the counties to install and operate the cameras, as opposed to the state’s ill-fated experiment to use a private contractor to operate such a system here for three months in 2002.
Also approved today, over strong protests from teachers, was a bill to speed creation of a new system to evaluate the effectiveness of public school educators.
A pair of bills was passed that are key to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s plan to bring more than 1,700 Hawaii prison inmates back from private Mainland prisons.
Several members of the Republican minority bloc voiced noted opposition to aspects of the bills previously expressed by Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney, but the measures were approved.
Also gaining approval were a series of measures meant to expedite contract awards for public works projects.
Bills to extend tax credits for film and television ventures were passed, as were measures that would facilitate construction of film/television studios.
Bills that call for studies of the creation of a state-owned bank were debated at length but ultimately won passage.
The long-standing backlog in safety inspections of state elevators would be addressed under a bill that increases inspection fees and allows for the employment of a cadre of highly-paid inspectors.
House members began their day at 9 a.m. and worked until 5:56 p.m.