Friday, January 25, 2002

Cayetano wants
to raise marriage
and driving fees

2 "death with dignity" bills are
included in his 168-bill package

Bill highlights

By Richard Borreca

The administration of Gov. Ben Cayetano wants to increase the state fees collected for marriage licenses, learning how to drive and burials.

Legislature 2002 The fee increases would go to support new programs directly related to the state activities. They are part of a 168-bill package offered by Cayetano.

Also included in the measures for the Legislature to consider are two bills to legalize "death with dignity."

In 1998, Cayetano convened a panel to consider the controversial issue. The group urged enactment of laws that "individuals who have no compunction regarding physician-assisted dying should be allowed to follow the dictates of their own conscience."

Following that, Cayetano was unable to get the Legislature to approve a bill allowing physician-assisted suicide.

Andi ven der Voort, president of the Hemlock Society of Hawaii, said the issue has been to the Legislature three times, and said it would give terminally ill persons suffering with pain a choice.

"If terminally ill, mentally competent people who are suffering know they can get help if they want it, they then know they have choices," van der Voort said.

However, John Long, executive director of the Hawaii Right to Life, noted that the bill has little support at the Legislature and is not expected to pass this year.

"It doesn't seem to be a very popular idea in Hawaii," he said.

"Also, modern medicine has the ability to control pain. Patients may not need a death-with-dignity bill, they need a better doctor," Long said.

The cash-strapped Cayetano administration is also looking to raise state funds through a variety of new programs.

A bill was also introduced to raise the fee for a marriage license to $90 from $50, require a yearly $100 fee from those licensed to perform marriages, and transfer the responsibility for marriage licenses to the counties from the state.

The bill is part of a Department of Health plan to use the Internet to register births and deaths with an electronic database system that would do away with the present paper filing system, it said.

Included in the increased fees would be a $20 fee for a burial permit. The Health Department noted that in 2000 there were 8,508 burials.

The Health Department is also again asking the Legislature to ban smoking in workplaces and restaurants.

"A statewide statue that can be applied to both restaurants and other workplaces is needed," the smoking ban measure noted.

"If enacted as proposed, over 90 percent of businesses in the state will have a clear, easily enforceable, no-cost and uniform statute," the Health Department said.

Under the proposal, smoking would be prohibited in all enclosed commercial buildings and workplaces in the state.

The only places to be exempted would be nightclubs, hotel rooms, bars and private residences.

Teenagers taking a state driver's education program, who now pay $10, would have to pay $100 for the course, which includes 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of behind-the-wheel training.

Commercial driving schools charge between $330 and $550 for the same course, according to the Department of Education.

The Department of Education noted that since 1999 when a driver's education course became mandatory for obtaining a first driver's license, the "demand for driver's education instructors has increased dramatically."

But the Department of Education can handle only 20 percent of the students who sign up for the courses.


Governor’s bills

Gov. Ben Cayetano introduced more than 168 bills for consideration this year. Among the highlights:

>> Allow terminally ill patients to end their lives.
>> Set up a special unit in the Attorney General’s Office to scrutinize local charities.
>> Increase fees for marriage, driver’s education and burial.
>> Transfer control of Aloha Stadium to University of Hawaii, for administrative purposes only.
>> Ban cigarette smoking in restaurants and workplaces, but not hotel rooms, bars and nightclubs.
>> Allow online bidding for state contractors.
>> Raise the wholesale liquor tax and reduce the state capital gains tax.

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