There must be hundreds of proposed bills floating around the state Legislature these days, dealing with all manner of topics. Some are vital, others (probably the majority) are considerably less so. Given the importance of law enforcement and criminal justice, we’ve gone through that vast pile of possible future laws and found 20 that we think our readers should know about. A few of these would make important checks on the power of cops and courts, while others would (in our opinions) further erode civil rights.
This bill protects our valiant public sidewalks from being unjustly “obstructed” by members of the public. In a thinly veiled assault on being homeless, the bill “Specifies that the offense of obstructing includes, in addition to obstructing a highway or public passage, providing less than one meter of space for passage on any paved public sidewalk, except as authorized by law, or failing to obey a law enforcement officer’s order or request to cease any of the foregoing activities.”
Status: Referred to Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on Feb. 6
For anyone who reads MauiTime on at least a semi-regular basis, the following sentences–taken right from the bill text–are not at all surprising: “Hawaii is the only state in the country without any state-level regulation of police. Regulation is left to the counties. Hawaii is only one of six states that does not establish minimum standards required to be a police officer and does not have any procedure for revoking a police officer’s certification for serious misconduct.” For that reason, this bill seeks to set up a statewide “law enforcement standards board” that would certify cops (and any other public agency with police powers).
Status: Referred to Senate Public Safety/Judiciary and Labor and Ways and Means Committees on Jan. 23.
Unlike other states, in Hawaii it’s not just anyone who can get access to a person’s public health statistics records (like a birth certificate). Usually, it’s just the person named on the record or a close relative. This bill adds police officer to the list. Specifically, “A law enforcement officer, as defined by section 710-1000(13), who needs a public health statistics record as evidence in a criminal investigation.”
Status: Referred to House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 11.
This creates “a homeless person’s bill of rights to guarantee that the rights, privacy, and property of homeless persons are adequately safeguarded and protected under the laws of this State.” It seeks “to ensure that their person, privacy, and property are safeguarded and protected. And the bill further makes it legal for people without homes to “Move freely in public spaces, including on public sidewalks, in public parks, on public transportation, and in public buildings without harassment or intimidation from law enforcement officials, in the same manner as other persons.”
Status: Referred to Human Services, Judiciary Committees on Jan. 27
This bill sets out the legal steps Hawaii police chiefs can take to start issuing Concealed Carry Licenses. But before you grab your Glock and run to the police station (an act you might want to think twice before attempting), please note that the bill lists A LOT of steps that must be completed before anyone gets said license.
Status: Referred to House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 27
According to the bill’s summary, this “Establishes an internet crimes against children fee for each felony or misdemeanor conviction.” The bill summary also states that the fund would “provide training and resources for local law enforcement agencies’ and investigators’ use in investigating and prosecuting internet crimes against children.”
Status: Referred to House Human Services, Judiciary and Financial Committees on Jan. 27.
Missing children are every parent’s nightmare, and this bill brings the hammer down on caregivers who don’t act as quickly as they should when a child disappears. It “Establishes penalties for caregivers who fail to report the death or disappearance of a child to law enforcement or who provide false information to law enforcement authorities.”
Status: House Human Services Committee passed it on Feb. 4
The bill text is pretty clear about why this is necessary. “Mother-child separation presents a serious challenge to continuing breastfeeding,” the bill states. “It costs nothing to exempt a breastfeeding woman from jury duty, and this exemption can make a big difference in preserving the breastfeeding relationship. A woman should never have to worry about how she is going to feed her baby while required to sit in a courtroom, or while sequestered.”
Status: Referred to House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 11.
Because we can never have too many special crime categories, this bill “Adds intentionally or knowingly causing bodily injury to medical services providers to assault in the second degree offense,” states the bill summary. It also “Expands the medical services providers to which the offense would apply.”
Status: Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee has hearing scheduled on Feb. 12.
Much like the federal Internal Revenue Service, the state Department of Taxation employs criminal investigators, whose job is to track down people who show more than a slight hesitation to pay the taxes they owe. But apparently, the existence of this bill seems to show that people just aren’t respecting the state tax cops like they should. Hence this piece of legislation, which states that “Persons appointed and commissioned under this section shall have and may exercise all of the powers and authority and the benefits and privileges of a police officer or of a deputy sheriff, including the power to arrest.”
Status: Senate Public Safety Committee passed it on Feb. 11.
This bill makes it legal for retired cops, firefighters and National Guardsmen to “double dip”–collect their pension while still employed–if they go to work as a school security guard. The reason for this? “Ensuring safety in public schools is one of the most important responsibilities of the State,” states the bill. “However, security positions are among the lowest paying in public schools, and additional incentives are needed to address increased security needs adequately.”
Status: Referred to House Education, Labor and Financial Committees on Jan. 27
It’s not a repeal of the special exemption in the state’s public records law that protects the identities of bad cops, but this bill does at least call for more detailed reporting of cases of police misconduct.
Status: Referred to Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on Feb. 11
Call it the Officer Nelson Johnson Act. This bill “Requires the court to hold a separate probable cause hearing, when a person is charged with the offense of abuse of a family or household member or refusal to comply with the lawful order of a police officer, to review the charge and determine if there is probable cause to believe that the person charged will benefit from undergoing domestic violence intervention programs.” (Note: Officer Johnson, who was indicted on two charges of abusing family members, has not yet been convicted of a crime.)
Status: Referred to House Human Services, Judiciary and Financial Committees on Jan. 27
The Hawaii statutes already list five ways in which a person can engage in “disorderly conduct” at a bus stop. These include fighting, subjecting someone to abusive language and making “unreasonable noise.” Anyway, this bill adds a sixth way to that list: lying down “at a bus stop shelter or other bus stop structure in a manner that impedes or obstructs the use of or access to the bus stop.” Gee, I wonder which socio-economic strata this bill is aimed at…
Status: Passed Second Reading on Feb. 10.
Here’s a timely bill governing the use of drones–especially in regards to law enforcement against citizens. The bill “Requires individual consent or a search warrant to track an individual through the use of unmanned aircraft systems,” states the bill summary. It “Prohibits the repurposing of data without a search warrant. [It] Prohibits the carrying of firearms aboard unmanned aircraft systems. [It] Prohibits the causing of a nuisance from the operation of unmanned aircraft systems and model aircrafts. [It] Requires the police departments to implement guidelines of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Aviation Committee.”
Status: Referred to House Transportation, Judiciary and Financial Committees on Jan. 27.
Yes, you read that right. “Any individual applying for a permit to acquire the ownership of a firearm shall provide, as part of the permit application, a medical clearance by the individual’s primary care physician or psychiatrist who has examined the applicant no more than ninety days prior to submission of the application,” states the bill. “The primary care physician or psychiatrist shall provide a medical clearance for any individual who has no diagnosis, as of the time of the examination, of any medical condition that could make the individual a danger to self or a danger to others.” Of course, how one doctor diagnoses “danger to self” will be different from another’s, but hey, what do you expect from an explosively charged two-page bill?
Status: Referred to Senate Public Safety/Health and Judiciary and Labor Committees on Jan. 23.
This bill brings the world of firearms registration–which is already mandatory for everyone in the state who owns a gun–into the 20th century. “Each county shall establish an online registration process for registering firearms that generally requires no more than two visits to the respective county police station per registration,” states the bill. “Any funds received from county firearm registration fees shall be used to pay for online registration processing costs.”
Status: Referred to Senate Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 12.
Show of hands of those who loved the TV show CHiPs, which ran from 1977 to 1983 on the NBC network? Starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as two fun-loving but deadly-serious motorcycle officers with the California Highway Patrol? Anyway, this bill would set up the same outfit here in Hawaii, as a division of the Sheriff’s Department (though probably without Erik Estrada, which is sad).
Status: Referred to Senate Public Safety/Transportation, Ways and Means Committees on Jan. 23.
This bill would create a “Silver Alert” system for missing senior citizens, similar to the state’s Maile Amber Alert program for missing children. Oh, and the bill defines “senior citizen” as 65 years old and older, so any 60-year-olds who go missing are pretty much on their own.
Status: House Human Services Committee passed with amendments on Feb. 11.
In response to the recent Christopher Deedy trial, in which a federal agent visiting Hawaii was charged with getting drunk and then killing a local (and which ended in a mistrial), we have this bill that would prohibit any and all public safety employees (ie, cops) from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm or an unspecified number of hours before carrying a firearm. Granted, we already thought it was illegal for cops to get drunk on duty, but that shows what we know.
Status: Bill scheduled for decision making on Feb. 13.