Saturday, April 24, 1999

Legislature: Week in Review

State prison could
be built in Arizona

By Pat Omandam


Legislature '99 State officials this week pushed Mohave County, Ariz.; Hilo; Lihue; and a spot near Kulani Correctional Facility on the Big Island as possible sites for a 2,300-bed state prison.

Gov. Ben Cayetano revisited the idea of a prison in Mohave, which he first considered last year after Big Island residents were divided over a prison in Kau. The governor said he was open to a site on Kauai, if the community wants a prison there.

Sen. David Matsuura (D, Hilo) pushed for a prison on private lands near Hilo airport, but Cayetano said that site was already ruled out, and he questioned community support for it.

Cayetano wants the new facility near the Kulani prison on Mauna Loa, but legislative money committees did not fund his $130 million request.

Other key action this week:

State budget

House and Senate conferees this week began the process of molding the state's $12 billion, two-year state budget. The Senate wants to slow the growth of government, while the House focus is on economic revival, public education and public safety.

Talks are expected to last until Friday, when the budget must be ready for approval on May 4.

Attorney general

Cayetano's reappointment of Attorney General Margery Bronster is coming down to whether she has enough votes in the 25-member Senate to be confirmed.

The Senate, however, has not placed Bronster's nomination on the agenda, even though a Senate committee approved her nomination a week ago.

School shooting

In response to the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., Cayetano on Wednesday said he doesn't see the need to install weapons detectors in island schools in the near future.

The state will fly the Hawaii state flag at half-staff until May 2 in sympathy for the shooting's victims.

Pension funds

Cayetano proposed cutting contributions to the Employees Retirement System for the next two years to save $280 million that the state can use for school maintenance and to help the cash-strapped counties, but only if public employee unions agree to forgo pay raises for the next two years.

Shark finning

Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D, Hilo) killed further conference committee discussion on a bill that regulates shark finning in Hawaii, despite efforts of House lawmakers who say the practice kills 100,000 sharks a year.

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