Fish and loaves on minds of legislators
Some 2,854 bills on a range of issues have been introduced in the Legislature this year
Frozen bread is rising again in the halls of the Legislature.
A year after Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a bill to require that stores post signs stating whether baked goods from the mainland were flash-frozen and then thawed before sale, the measure is back among the 2,854 bills introduced this year in the Legislature.
Buried among some of the more notable measures -- tax cuts, education spending, affordable housing and renewable energy -- are plenty of lower-profile bills.
Only a small fraction of all bills will make it up to the governor for her approval or veto. Of the 3,690 bills introduced last year, only 250 became law.
But as lawmakers figure out which bills will even get hearings, a look at the wide-ranging list shows the variety of issues lawmakers face in any given year.
A look at some of the bills introduced in the state Legislature:
H.B. 1838: Requires manufacturers to prominently identify in packing of bread whether the product was previously frozen and thawed prior to sale.
H.B. 1945: Amends the definition of deposit beverage container to allow the redemption of 2-liter (67.7 fluid ounce) bottles.
H.B. 1963: Prohibits no-rules, extreme or ultimate combat.
H.B. 1982: Permanently establishes the humuhumunukunukuapuaa (Rhinecanthus rectangulus) as the official fish of the state.
H.B. 2048: Prohibits the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products.
H.B. 2168: Clarifying that the Aloha Spirit entails contemplation of the following in all actions by government officials: whether the action is the truth, is fair to all concerned, will build good will and better relationships, and will be beneficial to all concerned.
SOURCE: HAWAII STATE LEGISLATURE
Some proposals look to combat a recent issue, such as a bill to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in Hawaii. Two years ago, cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds drew the ire of Hawaii officials, including Lingle, for its introduction of a pineapple-flavored cigarette marketed as Kauai Kolada.
And a year after establishing rules that allow for "no-rules fighting" contests to be held in Hawaii, a bill introduced this year seeks to ban such events altogether.
Other proposals simply look to tweak existing law, such as a House proposal that would allow for the redemption of 2-liter plastic beverage containers under the state's "bottle bill."
Still others are the result of past oversight, such as a bill that seeks to permanently establish the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, or rectangular triggerfish, as the official state fish.
According to the bill introduced by Rep. Blake Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa), the humuhumunukunukuapuaa was designated as the official fish of Hawaii in 1985, but the legislation automatically expired five years later.
"Many among the general public, however, mistakenly assume that the humuhumunukunukuapuaa is still the state fish," the bill states. "The Legislature finds that Hawaii does not currently have a fish designated as the official fish of the state.
"The purpose of this act is to permanently establish the humuhumunukunukuapuaa as the official fish of the state."
And the frozen-bread bill?
The proposal was reintroduced this year by Rep. Roy Takumi, who compared it to existing state law that requires stores to post whether poke has been previously frozen.
"It's not a health issue because whether poke was frozen or fresh, it's not detrimental to your health," Takumi said. "It's a consumer awareness issue -- should the consumers know that this poke was frozen previously and this was not? We said yes.
"It wasn't a big issue years ago. ... The vast majority of bread on the supermarket shelves was fresh. That's not the case today."
A bill seeks to permanently name the humuhumunukunukuapuaa the state fish.
Takumi (D, Pearl City-Pacific Palisades) admits that some might consider such measures frivolous. He recalled the 2000 session when then-Sen. Rod Tam introduced a measure calling for public employees to take naps during their breaks.
"Out of the thousands of bills introduced, you (in the media) always pick out a few and kind of go, 'Whoa! Haven't you guys got something better to do?'" Takumi said. "But many of the bills are very thoughtful, as well, and very significant."
Rep. Lyla Berg (D, Hahaione Valley-Aina Haina) said colleagues chuckled at her bill proposing to amend the state law that says public officials may give consideration to the "Aloha Spirit" in carrying out their work.
The bill seeks to clarify that the Aloha Spirit "entails contemplation of the following in all actions by government officials: whether the action is the truth, is fair to all concerned, will build good will and better relationships and will be beneficial to all concerned."
"They are questions that I feel need to be contemplated in order to make good policy and legislation," Berg said. "What I would like to see more among my colleagues, and also in conversation and dialogue with the public, is we take a bigger-picture view of issues.
"So many interesting bills come out, and to the degree that we can discuss -- in ways that bring us together versus create aggression -- I think we can be really successful."