Hawaii lawmakers are pushing for energy independence, easing the high cost of living and improving working conditions in the state's commercial fishing fleet as they begin the 2017 legislative session.
They're also facing tough battles over money.
The state ended last year with money in the bank, but the budget proposed by Gov. David Ige relies on deficit spending as revenue is projected to come in lower than expected. The budget is already stretched tight by growing unfunded liabilities for public pensions and retiree health care costs, and lawmakers are concerned about the ballooning cost of building Honolulu's rail transit project.
"The state finances will be a big project for us, especially if you consider the tax revenue forecast and the big ticket items, such as the unfunded liability, infrastructure costs and the rail project," said Rep. Scott Saiki, House majority leader.