- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii lawmakers will return from a long holiday weekend to tackle a slew of resolutions and bills in committee hearings.

They’ll take up one resolution about driving under the influence of marijuana and another asking the federal government to set limits on how small airline seats can get.

Lawmakers are also looking at ways to address a shortage of mental health services for teenagers. And they’re hearing proposals on ways to help homeless female veterans and pedestrians.

Here’s a look at what legislative committees will tackle in the upcoming week.



How much weed can a person smoke and still drive safely? Hawaii law currently bans people from driving if they’re under the influence of a drug that impairs their ability to drive. But there’s no set threshold for how much marijuana is acceptable in the blood stream. Now that Hawaii is setting up a new medical marijuana dispensary system, lawmakers are expecting more people to have access to the drug. A House resolution - HCR97 - asks the Department of Health to conduct a study to figure out whether a person can or can’t safely operate a car while under the influence of marijuana. A House committee will take up the resolution Monday.



Also Monday, lawmakers in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health are considering a resolution to ask the state to audit the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division, which provides mental health services to minors in the state. The resolution, SCR140, says that legislators have major concerns about the lack of residential treatment programs on neighbor island. Right now, there are only two mental health facilities for teens in the state, both of which are on Oahu.

On Tuesday afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee is hearing a bill, SB2886, to lower the age of consent from 18 to 12 for teens to receive mental health services such as counseling. Center for Disease Control data shows Hawaii is in the top 10 for states with the highest suicide attempt rates for teens.


CRAMPED AIRLINE SEATS - Many air travelers are getting fed up with the amount of space they have during their flights. Citing a growing problem with obesity and gradually shrinking airline seats, some Hawaii lawmakers want to urge the Secretary of Transportation to set minimum standards for seat size. A resolution - SR 121 - will be heard in two Senate committees Tuesday.



Pedestrians in Honolulu sometimes feel like they’re taking a risk just crossing the road. A House bill - HB32 - clarifies that a pedestrian is in a crosswalk when any portion of their body, wheelchair or cane is in the crosswalk. The Honolulu Police Department says making that distinction would help them enforce when vehicles violate the right of way. That bill will be heard in a Senate committee Monday.



Female veterans are one of the fastest growing homeless populations in the nation, and state officials say it’s no different in Hawaii. On Monday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee will consider HB2489, which would help provide more services to female veterans. The bill would create and fund a full-time counselor position in the Hawaii Office of Veterans Services with a focus on female veterans who served in active duty.



A bill to increase the use of technology in Hawaii public schools - SB2267 - is also being considered Tuesday in the Senate money committee. It would allow public schools to use money allocated for traditional curricular materials such as textbooks on digital formats like electronic books. In its original form, the bill would have given $12.8 million to help buy electronic schools supplies, but lawmakers blanked out the amount in the most current draft.

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