HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers have filed more than 2,000 new bills in the 2016 legislative session as they race to turn in their proposals before a legislative deadline.
But the mood at the state Capitol on Wednesday was quieter than usual on the day after the death of state Sen. Gilbert Kahele. Lawmakers in the Senate honored him with songs and speeches. The Senate opened the chamber so members of the public could pay their respects, while U.S. Marines stood guard at Kahele's desk to honor him for his service.
Meanwhile, the Capitol remained busy Wednesday, the last day to submit new proposals for the session. Lawmakers and their staff submitted policy ideas to tackle everything from singing fountains to inter-island ferries.
A look at proposals that may keep lawmakers busy this session:
A group of state senators wants to bring back an inter-island ferry, about six years after the Superferry was shut down for not having undergone a full environmental review. Their proposal includes a tax credit for ferry operators.
LOTTERY FOR HOMELESS
Gambling is illegal in Hawaii, but Democratic Rep. John Mizuno wants to start a lottery to help Hawaii's homeless people. If passed, a portion of the money collected in the state lottery would be set aside for programs to help alleviate homelessness.
Should the state regulate fantasy sports contests? Some Hawaii lawmakers think so. Several bills are being introduced that would force fantasy contest operators to register with the state. But one bill would make promoting fantasy contests illegal.
Could the Hawaii state Capitol end up looking like a Las Vegas casino? One Hawaii lawmaker hopes so. Democratic Rep. Romy Cachola wants to turn the Capitol's murky reflecting pool into a tourist attraction with elaborate fountains, Hawaiian music and a light show.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' DAY
The second Monday of October has been known as Columbus Day, or Discoverers' Day, for nearly 80 years. But in Hawaii, lawmakers want to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day. The holiday would celebrate the indigenous voyagers who settled islands in the Pacific more than 1,000 years before Christopher Columbus was born.
Hawaii is a "may issue" state, so it's up to the government to decide whether to grant concealed carry permits for firearms, even if the person applying is qualified. A bill introduced this session would force the government to issue concealed-carry permits to eligible candidates.
Hawaii's tipped employees play a vital role in the state's economy, serving in the restaurants and hotels that form the backbone of the tourism industry. A group of representatives wants to make it easier for tipped employees to get by in the high-cost state by offering an income-tax exemption on the first $10,000 of income derived from tips.
Here are the bill numbers: Ferry Dreams: SB3022; Lottery for Homeless: HB2536; Fantasy Sports: HB1838, HB2111, HB2722 and HB2429; Singing Fountain: HB1988; Indigenous Peoples' Day: HB2268; Concealed Carry: HB1691; Tipping Point: HB2599