2021 Legislative Session

Ryan Finnerty/HPR

HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that would standardize the state's pandemic travel restrictions across the islands, a departure from the current system that allows individual counties to opt out of a state pre-flight testing program or add their own modified safety measures.

Office of Mauna Kea Management

HONOLULU — Two Hawaii legislative committees on Thursday passed a resolution creating a working group to develop recommendations for new management of the state's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea.

Hawaiʻi lawmakers are considering legislation to help the state’s funeral services industry accommodate traditional Hawaiian burial practices by using a technology known as water cremation. Supporters say this is a cleaner alternative to burial or traditional cremation. But industry representatives say it could come at a higher cost to consumers.

Casey Harlow / HPR

HONOLULU — A bill advanced Tuesday by the Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee would automatically register to vote eligible U.S. citizens who apply for a driver's license or state identification card, unless the individual declines to be registered.

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Updated 2/23/21, 9:40 a.m.

A proposal to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour is moving forward at the state legislature. But is increasing the minimum wage a good idea for Hawaiʻi's economic recovery?

AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, FILE

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Senate is reconsidering allowing county emergency departments to charge out-of-bounds hikers for rescue costs as government spending remains under pressure because of the coronavirus pandemic.

AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy

Hawaii's housing crisis did not go away during the COVID-19 pandemic, in fact in some ways it got worse. In response, the Legislature is considerign dozens of bills on housing.

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A new tax on gasoline-powered cars priced more than $60,000 would be used to fund electric vehicle infrastructure across the state.

AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

HONOLULU — The state House education committee on Tuesday passed legislation compelling the state Department of Education to use federal coronavirus relief money to support public school teacher salaries instead of allocating the funds for uses including tutoring and school security.

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

HILO — Proposed changes would make Hawaii's aid-in-dying law more accessible for terminally ill patients who want to end their lives.

Casey Harlow / HPR

The state is considering a measure that would create a state lottery system to fund public education. But some think it may hurt low income families.

AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana

Updated 2/11/21, 11:57 a.m.

A recent statewide survey found 91% of participants plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine. State officials say it's a strong indication that attitudes about the vaccine are rapidly shifting since vaccinations began in mid-December.

AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool

Updated 2/10/21, 12 p.m.

Hawaii is awaiting federal approval of an additional 175 million dollars for its vaccination program against COVID-19.

AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, File

HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers are considering bills that could force oceanfront property owners to remove sandbags and heavy tarps that can significantly contribute to coastal erosion.

Casey Harlow / HPR

HONOLULU — Hawaii's commercial landlords would be prohibited from evicting tenants under a bill that state lawmakers are considering to help businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

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HILO — Some Hawaii restaurant owners have come out against a proposed bill to place a 2-cent tax on each fluid ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the state.

AP Photo/Eugene Tanner

HONOLULU — A bill introduced at the Hawaii Legislature would broaden the powers of the state agency managing the redevelopment of Aloha Stadium.

Casey Harlow / HPR

Updated 1/26/21, 11:57 a.m.

Governor David Ige says it's time to upgrade the state economy to what he calls "Hawaii 2.0" and to "embrace digital technology." The governor says that process can help reduce our reliance on tourism and help diversify the economy.

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In his annual state of the state address, Hawaii Governor David Ige outlined his vision for Hawaii’s post-pandemic future; what he called Hawaii 2.0.

Casey Harlow / HPR

Updated 1/25/21, 12:51 p.m.

The Department of Health's State Laboratories Division has detected a variant of COVID-19 in the islands. The L452R strain was first detected in Denmark in March 2020, and is now found in more than a dozen U.S. states.

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In his state of the state address on Monday, Governor David Ige is expected to outline a plan for solving Hawaii’s nearly $2 billion budget shortfall. That spending plan will have to be passed by the state legislature, which has several options to plug the hole.

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

The main task facing state lawmakers this session will be to plug the $1.8 billion hole in Hawaii’s budget. Leadership signaled a reluctance to accomplish that through raising taxes.

Legislature convenes with increased security measures; Reality Check: Panel will evaluate State Auditor's performance; The Long View with Neal Milner: Building national unity; Hawaii's strategy to combat sex trafficking evaluated; Realities of the digital divide; Manu Minute


Legislature convenes with increased security measures


The Hawaii State Legislature marks the first day of its new legislative session with increased security and public health restrictions. HPR Government reporter Ryan Finnerty breaks down this unprecedented start.

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

Wednesday marks the start of the 2021 session of the Hawaii State Legislature. Lawmakers are back in the capitol under increased measures for public health and physical security.

Casey Harlow / HPR

HONOLULU — Cut spending, raise taxes or perhaps both. Hawaii lawmakers face tough choices as they convene a new legislative session this week amid a pandemic that has pummeled tourism, the state's biggest industry, and depleted tax revenue.

Chip Fletcher

While much of focus for the 2021 legislative session will be on responding to the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, some state lawmakers are still pushing for policies to  address climate change.

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Improved public access at the state Legislature; Priorities from the Hawaii Senate; Reality Check with Civil Beat: Audit slams Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp.; Hawaii Island doctor shortage worsens

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

With unemployment in Hawaii at some of the highest levels in the country, a group of local business owners are pushing back on a state plan to end commercial operations at Oahu’s Dillingham Airfield.

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Much of the state legislature’s business during the upcoming five month session will be conducted remotely, which is already creating technical challenges.