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Saturday, January 27, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

health, gambling
take center stage

Hundreds of bills address
all aspects of education; rules
on workplace smoking
will also be heard

By Pat Omandam

Education remained a central theme at the state Capitol this past week.

Support was found in Gov. Ben Cayetano's State of the State address, as well as in the hundreds of legislative bills that address all aspects of public education.

For example, scholarships for local students was suggested by skimming 10 percent of the state's $175 million Hurricane Relief Fund or through an exclusive state gaming license in which the state could impose a 12 percent wagering tax.

Legislature With never enough money to go around, discussion on gaming -- bills on horse-racing, a state lottery and a casino have been introduced -- may extend past the first committee hearing, where most of these gambling measures have routinely stalled in the past.

Here's a look at a few upcoming issues, as well as a review of some of this week's action at the Capitol:

Bullet Long-term health care: Bills affecting long-term health care, family support, respite care and substance abuse treatment will be heard Monday by two House committees.

One bill authorizes studies of a state program for long-term care that would give protective coverage to the largest number of people reasonably possible.

Bullet Smoking rules: Employers with more than two employees must adopt a smoking policy, under a House bill that also bans smoking in enclosed areas of state-owned or state-controlled workplaces, including the Capitol. The proposal will be heard Tuesday by the House Health Committee.

Bullet Ford Island update: The Navy will update lawmakers on the progress of its Ford Island project Thursday at the Capitol auditorium.

The redevelopment of the Pearl Harbor islet into a residential and visitor complex will be discussed at a joint House-Senate panel.

Bullet Judiciary notes: In his state of the Judiciary address Tuesday, Hawaii Chief Justice Ronald Moon said the Drug Court program on Oahu saves taxpayers up to $800,000 a year.

Moon is asking lawmakers to expand the program to the neighbor islands.

The governor has proposed legislation for mandatory drug treatment for nonviolent, first-time offenders as an alternative to prison.

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