The Latest: Hawaii OKs bills on mental health, prison, guns

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HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on the Hawaii Legislature passing dozens of bills ahead of a legislative deadline (all times local):

5 p.m.

Incarcerated people in Hawaii who committed misdemeanors could be released early to reduce prison overcrowding under a bill passed Tuesday.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Hawaii teenagers, and lawmakers are concerned about their access to mental health care. In response, lawmakers passed a bill to lower the age of consent from 18 to 14 to receive mental health services.

The Legislature also passed a bill to force gun owners to immediately surrender firearms after undergoing an emergency hospitalization for mental health issues.

A bill to allow psychologists to prescribe medication is in jeopardy after it passed the Senate but hit trouble in the House.

Lawmakers also passed a bill to spend $4 million on hosting the World Conservation Congress at the Hawaii Convention Center in September.


4:30 p.m.

A bill to start a pilot program for industrial hemp production was one of more than 100 bills to pass the Hawaii Legislature.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen says she hopes Hawaii could become the nation's leader in hemp production. She says hemp farming will create jobs and new industries in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the House also approved measures to ban sex trafficking and set insurance requirements for companies like Uber and Lyft. The bills passed the House and Senate Tuesday.

Both chambers also approved a bill to train all University Hawaii employees and students on preventing sexual assault and dating violence. The university came under fire two years ago when it was among dozens of schools that the U.S. Department of Education started investigating over how it handled sexual assault allegations.


4 p.m.

A bill to allow companies to continue diverting water from Maui streams will be sent to the governor after it passed the Hawaii Legislature.

Dozens of supporters of water rights for local Maui farmers stood in the Senate gallery with fists raised in the air as lawmakers voted on a bill that would allow companies with pending permits to continue diverting water.

Karen Murray of Honolulu was one of them. She says families suffer when water is diverted from streams.

The debate over Maui's water rights started over a century ago when plantations started diverting water from lush east Maui through a system of ditches to irrigate arid sugar cane land.

The bill was introduced after a Hawaii judge found that agriculture company Alexander & Baldwin's water diversion permits were invalid.


3 p.m.

Hawaii lawmakers are passing bills that would increase oversight over police and medical marijuana.

A bill passed in the House and Senate Tuesday would clarify the public's right to record law enforcement. Hawaii Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran says he introduced the bill after a publisher of a Maui newspaper was arrested when he allegedly filmed a traffic stop in 2012. Lawmakers also passed a bill to create an independent review board to investigate deaths involving police officers.

Lawmakers also approved a bill to clarify a medical marijuana dispensary law passed last year. The Hawaii Department of Health has selected eight businesses throughout the state to run dispensaries, which can open as soon as July.

Bills to regulate Airbnb and increase penalties for abandoning pets were passed by the House and Senate.


1:40 p.m.

The Hawaii Senate passed a bill to ban the sale of wildlife parts including elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and shark parts. The bill makes exceptions for family heirlooms, Native Hawaiian cultural practices protected by the state Constitution and other circumstances.

Supporters say Hawaii has the third-largest ivory market in the nation, and it could become the largest if left unregulated.

Inga Gibson of the Humane Society of the United States says the bill will help the state and federal government protect the 17 species covered in the bill.

The bill was already passed by the House, so it now goes to Gov. David Ige.


12:45 p.m.

Hawaii lawmakers in the House and Senate passed bills to cool Hawaii's public schools and give money to help police test untested rape kits.

They voted Tuesday to give $100 million to install air conditioning in Hawaii's schools. Both chambers also agreed to give $500,000 to Honolulu police to test 500 untested rape kits by the end of the year.

With the upcoming closure of Hawaii's last sugar plantation and a hotel on Maui, lawmakers also approved $850,000 to help hundreds of workers who will lose their jobs. The bill sets aside funds for training for workers who will be unemployed when Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company and the Makena Beach and Golf Resort close.

The Legislature also approved a bill to give money to fight a deadly forest disease.


12 p.m.

The Hawaii state Senate has passed bills banning sex trafficking and raising penalties for animal desertion.

The senators also passed a bill Tuesday that would reduce opioid-related drug overdoses by encouraging the use of opioid antagonists.

The Senate passed a bill that would allow online brokers such as Airbnb to collect taxes on behalf of people advertising private rentals on the websites. That bill passed after a lengthy debate over whether they should amend it again to require online brokers to verify the legality of their listings.

Sen. Laura Thielen proposed a floor amendment that would target illegal campsites advertised on the websites. But the floor amendment failed, and the Senate passed the bill without it.


11 a.m.

The Hawaii House and Senate have both passed the state's $13.7 billion budget for 2017.

The bill includes funding to boost the state's team that fights mosquito-borne diseases.

House Finance Chairwoman Rep. Sylvia Luke says this will help the state fight outbreaks of dengue fever that infected more than 260 people on Hawaii's Big Island. That funding will also help the state prevent a local outbreak of the Zika virus, which Luke says would be detrimental to its citizens and the state's economy.

The budget includes funding for homelessness services, and it spends more money on public school classroom supplies.

The legislators are passing dozens of bills during the final week of the 2016 legislative session.


9:30 a.m.

The Hawaii Legislature is passing dozens of bills ahead of a legislative deadline.

They're finalizing details on cooling the state's overheated classrooms and setting renewable-energy goals for the schools.

A bill up for a vote would ban employers from requiring access to their employees' social media accounts.

Lawmakers also are working on banning sex trafficking and enhancing police oversight. A bill pending in the House and Senate would set up an independent review board to review officer-involved deaths.

The legislators are passing the bills during the final week of the 2016 legislative session.

Some proposals already died, including plans to provide incentives to people who buy batteries for rooftop solar systems. Another bill to regulate the use of police body cameras also died.

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