Lawmakers near deadline for bills
A judicial retirement bill appears to have enough support within the Senate
Senate lawmakers are expected to approve a measure that would let voters decide whether to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges as the Legislature approaches its first major deadline of the 2008 session.
Other bills being voted on today include a proposal that would have Hawaii join other states that wish to abandon the Electoral College in favor of selecting the president via the popular vote, and one to amend reporting requirements for the oil industry in Hawaii.
Thursday is the day by which the House and Senate must complete work on their bills before exchanging them for further debate and crafting.
The judicial retirement bill is in the Senate. A similar proposal in the House died, and House leaders say they are awaiting the Senate version to continue discussion on the matter.
Senate Bill 3202 would ask voters to decide whether to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges to 80 from 70. It comes two years after voters rejected a move to raise the mandatory retirement age altogether.
Supporters say the proposal aims to address the issue of age discrimination. Opponents, including Attorney General Mark Bennett, contend it is a way for majority Democrats to prevent Republican Gov. Linda Lingle from naming a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ronald Moon, who turns 70 in 2010, Lingle's last year in office.
Some supporters have suggested a compromise, in which any new age limit applies only to judges appointed after the law goes into effect.
The gasoline price monitoring bill, SB 2630, also is in the Senate. It proposes to have the Public Utilities Commission analyze and publish more specific information collected from the state's oil industry.
The PUC does publish some data, under a law funded last year, but the weekly reports have been criticized as misleading for including, and excluding, certain price information that could potentially distort the averages.
Both chambers are likely to advance a measure known as the "National Popular Vote Bill."
The proposals, HB 3013 and SB 2898, would have states conduct a popular election for president and do away with the current Electoral College system. Such a process would only happen if a majority of states approved similar legislation. To date, only Maryland and New Jersey have passed such laws.
Measures up for votes before exchange
A look at some of the proposals scheduled for votes today by the House and Senate as they approach a deadline to complete work on their own bills before exchanging them for further debate and crafting:
» House Bill 2099: Provides a $1 tax credit to taxpayers as required by the state Constitution.
» HB 2429: Creates the University of Hawaii Stadium Corp. and transfers the duties of maintenance, operation, management and improvement of Aloha Stadium from the Stadium Authority to the Stadium Corp.
» HB 3013: Adds a new section to state law to enact an agreement that allows member states to determine the winner of a presidential election by "national popular vote."
» Senate Bill 2630: Clarifies the reporting and publishing requirements of the Public Utilities Commission to more accurately reflect the information reported by oil producers, refiners, marketers, oil transporters, oil storers and oil retailers.
» SB 2833: Enacts the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan. Establishes and provides funds for a sustainability council to coordinate, implement, measure and evaluate progress and activities.
» SB 2898: Proposes an amendment to the state Constitution, subject to voter approval, to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges to 80.
Source: Hawaii Legislature