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Saturday, April 8, 2000



Legislature 2000

Second crossover
looms; lawmakers
get a Buzz

By Crystal Kua


Disagreements over bills that make it to the Legislature's second crossover deadline next week will be hammered out in conference committees, signaling the final weeks of the 2000 session.

Some of the major issues that appear headed down the conference committee route include civil-service reform, educational accountability, medical marijuana, fireworks and the state supplemental budget.

"Crossover" is when bills still alive cross over from House to Senate and vice versa.

The week also saw the state Capitol all abuzz about a visit by a famous astronaut.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin addressed a joint session of the Legislature by calling for the continued exploration of space.

He also reminisced abouts his famous walk on the moon 31 years ago.

Happenings around the Capitol also included:

UNSINKABLE HARBORS PLAN: The governor's plan to privatize the Ala Wai and Keehi Lagoon small-boat harbors surfaced again, attached to an unrelated measure this week.

An overflow crowd of boaters and residents showed up at a House hearing Wednesday opposing the plan that was sunk two weeks ago in the Senate. The House Finance Committee deleted the part of the bill dealing with privatizing the small-boat harbors.

The original part of the bill was approved.

SHARK FINS: A bill that would prohibit shark-finning unless the shark is brought to shore whole passed out of its final committee this week and appears to be on its way to becoming law, said Rep. Brian Schatz, who introduced the measure.

WATER TAX: Island water customers won't have an additional $12 a year tacked onto their bills.

The state Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday rejected the proposed annual tax on domestic water bills to raise $3 million a year to protect Hawaii's vital watershed areas.

EMERGENCY PAYROLL: The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a $14 million emergency spending bill with amendments that would allow the Hawaii State Hospital to meet its payroll.

State Health Director Bruce Anderson told lawmakers that the Health Department had to dip into the hospital payroll to pay for community-based programs that were required by a federal court settlement.

The emergency funding includes $6.2 million to replace the payroll.

The rest would be used to cover hospital costs and continue community programs.

FOR SALE: The state revealed this week that it wants to buy the Hemmeter Building in downtown Honolulu for $22.3 million and put a $3 million art gallery in it.

The building, once known as the Armed Services YMCA, is largely leased out to the state.

PAY RAISES: Gov. Ben Cayetano said the state can't afford to pay the Hawaii Government Employees Association the "very large" pay increases recommended by a three-member arbitration panel.

The union responded that Cayetano's comments were inappropriate.

ANZAI CONFIRMED: What a difference a year makes for Earl Anzai, who won Senate confirmation as attorney general.

The Senate last session voted down Anzai's reappointment as state budget director.

The Associated Press
contributed to this report.

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