- Associated Press - Sunday, May 10, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - The Hawaii Legislature has wrapped up its work for 2015, ending a session that drew attention for talk of medical marijuana dispensaries, rail tax extensions and Maui hospitals. There were hundreds of bills that were heard in committees that had lower profiles.

The bills that were passed by lawmakers now await a decision from Gov. David Ige.

“While the legislative session is done, the real work begins, because all of these bills have to be implemented into law,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Here are a few bills that slid by quietly and were passed by the Legislature this year:

- ELECTION REFORMS: People weren’t too happy after the 2014 elections, when a slew of ballots were misplaced in Maui. In addition, a tropical storm downed trees on the Big Island, blocking the route to the polls for many who weren’t given a second chance to vote. A number of bills were introduced to address the problem, and one emerged that would designate that the chief elections officer is an at-will employee subject to a performance evaluation two months after an election.



- SAVING OUR COFFEE: A temporary job has been created to help eradicate a pest that wreaks havoc on Hawaii’s coffee beans. The coffee berry borer is a beetle endemic to Africa that has spread through coffee-producing nations across the globe. The University of Hawaii calls the beetle the most economically destructive coffee pest worldwide.

- WHEN NATURE CALLS: There are some remote parts of the Hawaiian Islands where modern plumbing isn’t an option. One bill authorizes counties to approve the installation and use of composting toilets in areas that are inaccessible to municipal wastewater systems. The toilets use little to no water and use natural processes to treat waste.

Another bill would offer a $10,000 tax credit for people to convert cesspools to septic systems if they’re 200 feet from the ocean. Quipped Sen. Will Espero: “Sometimes we deal with crappy issues here.”

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