HONOLULU - Big crowds flooded committee hearings last week at the Hawaii Legislature to stump for better regulation of solar power and to push against taxes on electronic smoking devices.
The bills that roused them to action (SB2656 and SB2495) will come up again in hearings this week. Other highlights of the fourth week of the session will include committee hearings on measures aimed at protecting against beach erosion and increasing the state's minimum wage.
* BANNING FRACKING: A Senate bill (SB2940) would ban the mining technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Hawaii. A violation would result in a $100,000 fine.
* MINIMUM WAGE: Five House bills arrive before the Labor and Public Employment Committee on Tuesday, all with different proposals for raising the state's minimum wage (one bill proposes raising it to $10 per hour within 11 months, another only to $9 per hour within three years).
* MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Board-certified pain specialists, in addition to physicians, could prescribe medical marijuana beginning next year under a Senate bill (SB2574).
* BEACH MANAGEMENT: The University of Hawaii sea grant college program would get $400,000 to study and make a beach management plan for Oahu's North Shore under a Senate bill (SB3036). Erosion on the beach is threatening homes and one of Hawaii's great tourism attractions.
* ANTS, FIRED: Bills aimed at studying (HB2469) and creating a statewide awareness campaign (HB2431) for the little fire ant will be before the House Agriculture Committee. The non-native pest is dubbed "among the world's worst invasive species" by one bill.