AP NEWS

The Latest: Lawmakers discuss raising minimum wage

January 17, 2019

HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on the opening day of the Hawaii State Legislature (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi says his chamber will address legalizing marijuana, increasing the minimum wage, boosting affordable housing and reducing homelessness during the new legislative session.

Kouchi mentioned the list while addressing senators and the public as the Legislature opened Wednesday.

The Democrat from Kauai says he’d also like to pass a bill establishing voting by mail for the entire state.

Gov. David Ige told reporters afterward he’s working on a proposal to raise the minimum wage and he’s considering a level of $15. He suggested people stay tuned for his state of the state speech scheduled for next week.

Ige says officials need to balance the needs of working people and small businesses.

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10 a.m.

Hawaii lawmakers are opening a new session of the state Legislature with music, speeches and chants.

The state Senate will have an opposition party for the first time in two years after voters in Ewa Beach elected Republican Kurt Fevella to be their senator. The 25-member chamber was all-Democrat from 2016 to 2018.

The state House will have five Republicans and 46 Democrats — the same as last session.

Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki are returning to their jobs. They are both expected to speak during on opening day Wednesday.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate say they expect to address Hawaii’s housing shortage and homelessness during the session.

Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn on May 2.