Key bills move to Governor’s desk as legislative session comes to a close

Local News

The Hawaii legislature wrapped up the 2019 session on Thursday.   

From legalizing marijuana to taxing vacation rentals, lawmakers introduced more than 3,000 bills this session. 

“It’s been a different session for us,” said Senate majority leader (D) Kalani English. “I’d like to describe it as a smooth session for us with some bumps along the way.”

Notable bills that passed include reducing penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. 

If signed into law by the governor, the punishment for carrying three-grams or less of marijuana would be a $130 fine. 

“I am concerned,” said Gov. Ige about the decriminalization of marijuana. 

“I’ve talked with other governors in other states that have gone through recreational—and people assume once it becomes recreational or decriminalized that it’s legal, and it’s not legal by federal law. I think that becomes the confusion and that’s always been my concern,” he said. 

Another notable bill that passed would require vacation rentals to collect taxes from hosts. 

Sen. English says he hopes counties will make a choice on whether to enforce them or not. 

“We have held off about five years or more on passing legislation to collect taxes,” he said. “Waiting for the counties to establish if they’re legal or illegal, we simply could not wait any longer.”

Although raising the minimum wage didn’t pass this session, the House says they will push for it again. 

“The biggest disappointment was probably not addressing minimum wage,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki. “We know that it’s an important issue for a lot of people, unfortunately, we weren’t able to push legislation to address it.”

“We’ll be working over the summer looking at different alternatives to see if we can have a proposal for next year,” he added. 

All mail voting and automatic recounts with narrow victory margins also passed.

Governor Ige has until 24 to notify lawmakers if he intends to veto any of the bills. 

He had until July 9 to sign, veto, or pass the bills into law without his signature. 

For a full list of bills passed this session, click here
 

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