The 2017 Legislature is well underway. Bills are heading now into conference committee where final amendments and testimony will be deliberated prior to floor votes and (for bills that pass) ultimately the Governor’s desk. While several measures are on our radar, we are taking special effort to urge lawmakers to uphold civil liberties through their votes, and have hand delivered a copy of the following to their offices:
HB 845 (Inmate Access to ID) – SUPPORT
Helps inmates obtain ID cards and other vital records. This assists individuals who have paid their debt to society in their successful reentry into their communities. Successful reentry significantly increases the likelihood that someone will stay out of jail and is a key factor in reducing the number of people in jail while building safer communities.
HB 1195 (Homeless Services/LEAD) – SUPPORT
Appropriates funds to the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program, which is a proven game-changer in addressing drug use and homelessness by giving police new tools to divert low-level, non-violent offenders away from prison and towards health and community services.
HB 1501 (Drug Paraphernalia) – SUPPORT
Reclassifies drug paraphernalia possession and delivery from a felony to a violation subject to a fine. This is an important first step in moving Hawaii away from the failed War on Drugs and towards treating drugs as a public health issue, reserving jails and prisons for serious offenses.
SB 502 (Equal Access to IVF) – SUPPORT
Ends the discriminatory and unlawful exclusion of same-sex couples and single women from coverage under the State’s 30-year-old in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) insurance mandate, which currently requires a woman to be married to a man before she can be covered. As this bill merely provides for equal access to an existing benefit, the State will not have to defray any costs under the ACA.
SB 718 (Community Court Project) – SUPPORT
Creates the community court outreach project in Honolulu, allowing people who have been charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses to participate in rehabilitation or community service programs instead of going to jail. It’s a mobile court to meet people where they’re at and unburden the court system of low-level criminal cases.
SB 429 (Soc. Media Privacy) – SUPPORT Senate version, OPPOSE HD2
The Uniform Law Commission’s model act on social media privacy in employment and education leaves most students unprotected and contains dangerous loopholes for abuse. We support the Senate version, which protects more students and safeguards students and employees from abusive practices that invade their privacy.
HB 461 (Resisting Arrest) – OPPOSE
Creating a new felony—resisting arrest in the first degree—will not prevent the tragedy of an officer being fatally shot with her or his own gun, which has happened in Hawaii three times in the past 40 years. More likely, this will be used to justify police brutality (often, it is the officer’s word against the defendant’s) or to bolster charges against someone who would otherwise only face a misdemeanor.
SB 895 (Criminal Trespass State Land) – OPPOSE
Creates an overly harsh and vague new criminal trespass offense, adding to Hawaiiʻs growing body of laws and rules that criminalize being poor. Fails to provide language translation for signs that notify the public that land is closed and applies to land without a fence or boundary. Additionally, the bill chills free speech and cultural practices.
Printable version available: Eight to Watch – April 2017
Contact: Mandy Finlay, Advocacy Coordinator (808) 522-5905 email@example.com