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Wednesday, May 5, 1999



State of Hawaii


Bills that passed

AGRICULTURE

bullet Agricultural loans (SB5, SD2, HD2, CD1): Offers loans as much as $400,000 to farmers and ranchers who export crops and livestock.

Capitol assessment: A turnaround for the state, which in the past has not encouraged agricultural exports.

bullet Hemp (HB32, HD2, SD2, CD1): Allows privately funded industrial hemp research under the watchful eye of state and federal authorities.

Capitol assessment: Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua) has been high on this measure.

BUDGETARY

bullet Raiding the highway fund (HB765, HD1, SD2, CD1): Skims "excess" $11 million from the highway fund for the cash-strapped general fund.

Capitol assessment: Linked to raising the auto-rental surcharge to replenish the highway fund.

bullet State budget (HB100, HD1, SD1, CD1): Education is the big beneficiary of the two-year, $12 billion budget, with funding for workload increases and new schools, and federally required funding for special-needs students addressed.

Capitol assessment: Senate Ways and Means Co-Chairman Andrew Levin (D, Volcano) worries that reductions in grants to nonprofit social service agencies may mean some people who need help may not get it.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

bullet Laser pointers (SB365, SD1, HD1, CD1): Prohibits minors from buying or possessing laser pointers; prohibits adults from using laser pointers to harass other people or animals.

Capitol assessment: The city beat them to the punch.

bullet Telemarketing fraud (SB947, SD2, HD1, CD1): Prohibits deceptive telemarketing. Requires telephone solicitors to keep certain records that shall be available to authorities.

Capitol assessment: Easy target.

CRIME AND THE COURTS

bullet Butterfly knives (HB1496, HD1, SD1, CD1): Prohibits the manufacture, sale, transfer, transportation or possession of butterfly knives, which are considered as dangerous as switchblades.

Capitol assessment: Cultural argument for their use did not change minds.

bullet "Dangerous weapon" (SB919, SD1, HD1, CD1): Amends the definition of "dangerous weapon" to include using an animal in a threatening way that can lead to death or serious injury.

Capitol assessment: Use a mean dog, go to jail.

bullet Electronic peeping Toms (HB955, HD1, SD1, CD1): Makes it a Class C felony offense if someone takes sexually oriented photographs or videotapes of a person expecting privacy.

Capitol assessment: Spurred in part by hidden cameras in bathrooms.

bullet Pada bill (SB1119, SD1, HD1, CD1): It will now be up to the defense to prove the defendant in an attempted murder case was under extreme mental or emotional distress during the crime, and no longer up to the prosecution to prove the defendant was not.

Capitol assessment: Seeks to remedy the situation that occurred in the recent attempted murder trial of Kimberly Pada, who was charged with nearly beating her 4-year-old son, Reubyne Buentipo, to death. Pada was convicted of a lesser charge of attempted manslaughter based on the judge's jury instructions involving whether prosecutors had proved that Pada was not under extreme mental or emotional distress when she attacked her son. Public Defender Richard Pollack fears the measure means people who should be convicted of manslaughter may unfairly be convicted of murder.

bullet Repeat offenders (SB1118, SD1, HD1, CD1): Makes habitual violators of a new class of offenses against persons and property subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of nine months in jail.

Capitol assessment: Lock 'em up in prisons already overcrowded.

bullet Sentencing (HB1497, HD1, SD1, CD1): Mandates extended sentences for repeat violent and sexual offenders.

Capitol assessment: Getting tough.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

bullet Microorganisms (HB336, HD1, SD1, CD1): Establishes procedure for importing micro-organisms.

Capitol assessment: Agriculture officials were concerned about the dangers posed by bringing in microorganisms; isle scientists and doctors feared biotechnology research would be hampered by Ag's go-slow approach.

bullet Technology incentives (SB1583, SD2, HD2, CD1): Consolidates high-tech agencies under a technology development czar; offers tax credits for investment by technology firms; prohibits "discriminatory" taxes on Internet commerce.

Capitol assessment: Trying to bring a bit of Silicon Valley to the isles.

bullet "Depyramiding" (SB638, SD1, HD2): Reduces the "pyramiding," or the repeated imposition, of the 4 percent excise tax on wholesale services. Reduction will be by 0.50 percent each year over seven years, so that in 2006 the tax will 0.50 percent. Clarifies that sales of services to licensed contractors and persons furnishing hotel rooms are considered wholesale sales.

Capitol assessment: Salvaged with the Senate agreeing to the House draft.

bullet Exported services (SB44, SD1, HD2): Exempts from the general excise tax all services exported out of state.

Capitol assessment: Salvaged with the Senate agreeing to the House draft.

EDUCATION

bullet Charter schools (SB1501, SD3, HD3, CD1): Creates a process in which existing schools may be established as new century charter schools. Designates existing student-centered schools as new century charter schools.

Capitol assessment: Intended to be comprehensive charter-school legislation.

bullet Criminal history checks (SB1270, SD1, HD2, CD1): Permits private schools, like their public counterparts, to develop procedures for obtaining verifiable information regarding the criminal history of its employees and applicants who are or will be in close proximity to children.

Capitol assessment: Easy bill to pass.

bullet Emergency appropriations (HB1085, HD1, SD1, CD1): $11.1 million to fulfill the federal consent decree for special-needs students; $3.6 million for books and equipment for Kapolei Middle School; and nearly $1.8 million for Keaau High School.

Capitol assessment: Time to catch up with Felix compliance; new schools need materials.

bullet School performance (SB1307, SD1, HD1, CD1): Requires the Department of Education to establish a comprehensive accountability system, which includes benchmarks such as student-performance measures, school attendance rates, drop-out rates and parental involvement.

Capitol assessment: A prod for Hawaii's much-maligned public schools.

ELECTIONS

bullet Campaign contributions (SB630, SD1, HD1, CD1): Requires public disclosure of contributions of $500 or more made four to 15 days before an election.

Capitol assessment: Shining the light on last-minute cash infusions that now are

reported after an election.

bullet Election review (HB1471, HD1, SD1, CD1): Requires review of how elections are conducted and of the state elections officer's performance.

Capitol assessment: Inevitable after the controversy over how last year's election was run.

bullet Media buys (SB1502, SD1, HD1, CD1): Requires every person who spends more than $2,000 a year to buy air time or print ads to influence an election to file a disclosure report with the Campaign Spending Commission.

Capitol assessment: Trying to clean up MUDPACs.

bullet Party contributions (HB165, HD1, SD1, CD1): Lowers from $50,000 to $25,000 the maximum an individual can contribute to a state political party.

Capitol assessment: Supposed to take aim at fat cats who use political parties to funnel funds to candidates above the individual limit.

FEES AND CHARGES

bullet Copying charges (SB646, SD2, HD3, CD1): Lowers the cost of copying government documents from 50 cents to 5 cents a page.

Capitol assessment: The higher charge lasted just a year.

bullet Highway beautification (HB719, HD2, SD1, CD1): Doubles the highway beautification fee collected from each motor vehicle registration to $2.

Capitol assessment: Don't complain; it could have gone to $3.

bullet Search and rescue (HB161, HD1, SD2, CD1): Allows the state and counties to seek reimbursement for search-and-rescue costs.

Capitol assessment: Take note, hikers and swimmers who ignore warning signs.

bullet Rental cars (HB765, HD1, SD2, CD1): Increases the rental-car surcharge from $2 a day to $3.

Capitol assessment: Advocates say this will hit tourists more than isle residents.

bullet Trailers (HB602, SD1, CD1): You'll be paying $50 - not the current $5 - if you fail to record on time a transfer of ownership of a trailer.

Capitol assessment: But you now have 30 days instead of 20 to make the transfer.

bullet Bench warrant, probate and traffic citation fees (HB1454, HD2, SD2, CD1): Gives judges discretion to recover the actual cost of issuing a bench warrant by assessing a $50 fine on the person for whom the warrant was issued. Raises from $75 to $100 the fee for civil filings in District Court. Imposes fees of $5 to $20 for administrative costs associated with the processing of traffic citations.

Capitol assessment: Get ready to dig deeper into your pockets.

GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

bullet Disability board (SB1036, SD3, HD1, CD1): Establishes a disability and communication access board; eliminates the state coordinating council on deafness, the Commission on Persons with Disabilities and the Architectural Access Committee.

Capitol assessment: Is minor government restructuring the only sort that can be done?

bullet Permit processing (SB1079, SD1, HD3, CD1): Changes the name of the consolidated application process to the facilitated application process; this underscores that the process assists applicants in obtaining state and county permits - and is not a single permit application process.

Capitol assessment: Nothing to boast about.

bullet Public notices (SB646, SD2, HD3, CD1): Allows the counties to publish legal notices in weeklies.

Capitol assessment: A blow to the Hawaii Newspaper Agency, the business arm of Honolulu's two dailies, the morning Advertiser and the afternoon Star-Bulletin.

bullet Tobacco settlement (SB1034, SD1, HD2, CD1): Carves up the $1.3 billion tobacco lawsuit settlement that the state will receive over the next 25 years: 40 percent for a state "rainy day" emergency fund; 35 percent to the Health Department for health-related programs, including the children's health insurance program; 25 percent for anti-smoking programs.

Capitol assessment: Gov. Cayetano wanted 50 percent for the rainy day fund.

bullet Y2K problem (HB1111, HD2, SD2, CD1): Shields the state from lawsuits related to year 2000 computer problems, except in cases of gross negligence. But keeps door open for claims against manufacturers of government computer hardware and software.

Capitol assessment: State to public: Look elsewhere for deep pockets.

HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS

bullet Public land trust (SB1635, SD2, HD2, CD1): Requires that an inventory of public land trusts be completed in a year. Provides interim revenue of $16 million to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for fiscal 1999-2000.

Capitol assessment: Public land trusts remain a problem.

bullet Trust lands (HB1675, HD1, SD1, CD1): Extends the claims review panel until Dec. 31, 2000. Establishes an individual Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Claims Compensation Commission to develop funding options to compensate successful claimants.

Capitol assessment: State finally agrees to pay claims. Now, where can they find the money?

HEALTH

bullet Birth control (SB822, SD2, HD2, CD1): Requires all health insurers to offer coverage for contraceptive services and supplies; excludes employers if the requirement conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Capitol assessment: Victory for birth-control advocates.

bullet Breast-feeding (HB266, HD2, SD2, CD1): Prohibits discrimination against women who breast-feed. Requires the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission to compile data regarding workplace bias against breast-feeding women.

Capitol assessment: Much-criticized provision to grant unspecified tax credits to companies that built breast-feeding rooms didn't survive.

bullet Hawaii State Hospital (HB1663, HD2, SD2, CD1): Allows for the privatization of services for most of the patients at the state mental hospital in Kaneohe, but retains the facility for patients who need the most help and who could be a threat to the public.

Capitol assessment: This is not what Health Director Bruce Anderson wanted. Since lawmakers did not include $10 million for privatization, Anderson fears that will be seen by the federal courts as reflecting the state's lack of commitment to improve mental-health care. The appointment of a special master to tell the state what to do may be in the offing, Anderson warns.

bullet Tobacco products distribution (HB294, HD1, SD2, CD1): Bans distribution of tobacco products, including sample cigarettes, and tobacco promotional products in any public street, sidewalk, park or within 1,000 feet of any school.

Capitol assessment: The offensive against the tobacco industry continues.

JUDICIARY

bullet Judges' pay raises (HB20, HD2, SD2, CD1): Pay increases in each of the next two fiscal years. For the chief justice, the annual salary jumps from $90,699 to $98,571 on July 1; a year later, to $102,514. The lowest paid judges, now earning $77,699, will get $88,453 on July 1, 2000. The pay raises over two years total $6.3 million. Also imposes more stringent retirement provisions for future judges.

Capitol assessment: Aimed at silencing complaints over low judicial salaries.

LABOR

bullet Pay freeze and pay raises (SB1518, HD1, CD1): Freezes state government salaries for the fiscal biennium that begins July 1. Provision packaged with initiative that raids excess earnings of the state and county retirement fund to pay for retroactive pay raises for county workers.

Capitol assessment: The House, concerned with the state's fragile fiscal condition, got Senate approval of pay freeze provision.

bullet Pay raises (HB1038, HD1, SD2, CD1): $166 million in retroactive salary increases for units of the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers unions.

Capitol assessment: Unions wanted this a year ago.

bullet Salary study (SB1638, SD2, HD1, CD1): Requires the Department of Education and the public-school teachers union to study pay inequities for educational officers and to report to the Legislature before next year's session.

Capitol assessment: Hawaii State Teachers Association union wanted this.

MOTOR VEHICLES

bullet Driver's license (HB167, HD3, SD2, CD1): Raises from 15 to 16 the minimum age for obtaining a driver's license.

Capitol assessment: Effort to address high number of traffic accidents involving teen-agers.

TOURISM

bullet Strategic plan (HB221, HD2, SD1, CD1): Requires the Hawaii Tourism Authority to submit a long-term plan to the Legislature by Jan. 1. Gives HTA authority to refuse to disclose consultants' reports and its own internal analyses.

Capitol assessment: HTA to decide if secrecy benefits tourism.

bullet Hotel tax breaks (SB1325, SD1, HD2): Establishes a tax credit for the renovation of hotel and resort properties.

Capitol assessment: Salvaged with the Senate agreeing to the House draft. Purposefully passed the bill flawed, so the governor would have to veto it. Lawmakers would then come back in a special session to fix the measure.



Legislature Directory
Hawaii Revised Statutes
Legislature Bills


BILLS THAT DIED

Where it died

Here are the burial grounds for bills:

1) Never had a committee hearing.
2) Died in House.
3) Died in Senate.
4) Died in both chambers or joint conference negotiations.

BISHOP ESTATE

bullet Charitable trusts: Would have limited the salary of trustees of charitable trusts - such as the Bishop Estate - and would have also imposed term limits on trustees.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Judiciary chairmen await results of Bishop Estate investigations.

CRIME AND THE COURTS

bullet Arson: Would have created a separate offense and tougher penalties for arson.

Where it died: 3

Capitol assessment: May pass next session.

bullet Felony murder: Would have created a new "felony murder" offense that would allow prosecution of those who kill another person through "extreme recklessness" or during the commission of a serious felony.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Too extreme at this time.

bullet Hookele Court Navigation project: Would have created a court concierge desk and customer service center at the state's courthouses.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Try again next year.

bullet Vicious animals: Would have made it a crime to fail to confine or destroy a vicious animal that has caused personal or property damage.

Where it died: 3

Capitol assessment: Counties should make this a pet project.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

bullet Cockfighting: Would have established a game bird testing facility on the Big Island.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: Uncertain as to the extent the initiative - very closely tied to gaming - would boost the economy.

bullet Gambling: Would have permitted gambling at a theme park, on ships and would have held a referendum on gaming.

Where it died: 1

Capitol assessment: Not enough support in Legislature to consider gambling measures.

bullet Hotel renovations: Would have provided tax breaks for hotel and resort renovations as a way to boost the state's No. 1 industry, tourism.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: House and Senate negotiators appeared to have reached an agreement. But House Economic Development Chairman Robert Herkes (D, Volcano) accused the Senate of purposefully sandbagging the measure by trying to slip in provisions the House had not agreed to.

EDUCATION

bullet Salary boosts: Would have allowed the state schools superintendent and librarian to receive additional pay from private sources.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Killed after Daniel Mollway, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, protested that private funding opens the door to potential conflicts of interest. For example, would you want a potential bidder on a school construction project boosting the superintendent's salary?

bullet School board attorney: Would have allowed the Board of Education to hire its own attorney without approval of the attorney general on issues related to special-needs students under the federal Felix consent decree.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Not at this time.

bullet Education reform: Would have given the statewide public-schools system political autonomy and given the elected Board of Education taxing powers.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: House sees a school board appointed by the governor as the solution to state's lower-education woes.

ELECTIONS

bullet Recount: Would have provided a procedure to recount election results.

Where it died: 3

Capitol assessment: Still time to change laws before the November 2000 elections.

ENVIRONMENT

bullet Shark finning: Would have regulated the practice of harvesting shark fins.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Opposed because it affects extra money made by fishermen who sell the fins to Asia and local markets for shark-fin soup.

GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

bullet Executive bonuses: Would have allowed the governor to give performance bonuses to Cabinet members and state directors.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: Gov. Cayetano's idea isn't going to be embraced in this economy.

bullet New salary schedule: Would have the Hawaii chief justice, the chief executives of the state and the counties, and the Hawaii health systems chief executive determine the pay for all managerial white-collar employees.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: Hana hou in 2000 session.

bullet Voluntary separation incentives: To reduce the size of the state work force, would have allowed civil service workers to apply for voluntary incentive payments that equal four weeks of salary if the employee has less than two years of service, or four weeks plus an additional week of salary for every year worked, with a maximum of 21 weeks of salary or $25,000.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: There are cheaper alternatives to downsizing state government.

HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS

bullet OHA elections: Would have provided for both primary and general elections for candidates to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Where it died: 1

Capitol assessment: Shelved this session. Has implications for the Rice v. Cayetano case now before the U.S. Supreme Court in which Big Island rancher Harold Rice, who's white, contends that it is unconstitutional for OHA to conduct elections in the which the candidates and voters are limited to native Hawaiians.

bullet OHA seats on state boards: Would have given OHA seats on the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the state Land Use Commission and the Commission on Water Resource Management.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: OHA having that much influence is too scary for some.

bullet Tuition waivers: Would have granted free tuition to native Hawaiian students enrolled in the University of Hawaii system.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Simply, House and Senate disagreed on whether the legislature "shall" or "may" award tuition waivers, a point argued until the end of last Friday's midnight deadline.

bullet Waiting list claims. Would have narrowly defined what claims could by heard by the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Individual Claims Review Panel.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: This was the state's attempt to avoid paying millions of dollars in claims already heard.

HEALTH

bullet Adult residential care homes: Would have forced the Health Department to tell operators of adult residential care homes the approximate date and time their facilities would undergo annual inspections.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Do you want to tell them when inspectors are coming?

bullet Euthanasia: Would have legalized physician-assisted death and physician-assisted suicide, as recommended by a dying with dignity panel.

Where it died: 3

Capitol assessment: Lawmakers are reluctant to pass controversial end-of-life measures until they study the issue to death.

bullet Medical use of marijuana: Would have ensured that severely and terminally ill patients are not penalized for obtaining and using marijuana strictly for medical purposes.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: No joint effort, as House and Senate split on the idea.

bullet Smoking: Would have banned smoking in enclosed areas of workplaces.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: Snuffed out by unions who say smoking is a negotiable item and others who saw it as anti-business.

LABOR

bullet Bumping: Would have restricted the practice of senior government workers targeted for layoffs from "bumping" junior workers from their jobs, which would be taken by the senior worker, who keeps his or her higher salary.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: Coveted privilege in public-worker union contracts.

bullet Minimum wage: Would have raised state minimum wage by $1.25 - to $6.50 per hour - on Oct. 1, as well as set a future "livable wage" standard.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: It woould further hurt small businesses already roughed up by a tough economy.

bullet Retirement calculation: Would have eliminated overtime pay from the calculation of retirement benefits for all government workers as a way to save $20 million.

Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: Gov. Cayetano wanted it. Unions opposed it, and lawmakers listened to them.

bullet Worker retention: Would have required new owners of Hawaii businesses to retain all employees for at least a year after buying the business.

Where it died: 4

Capitol assessment: Businesses opposed, lawmakers listened.

SAME-SEX UNIONS

bullet Domestic partnerships: Would have given gay couples many of the financial benefits of marriage but would have withheld adoption and parental rights.

Where it died: 1

Capitol assessment: Gay rights activists see domestic partnerships as providing societal recognition and a step toward their ultimate goal of same-sex marriage. But domestic partnerships were deemed untouchable in what was supposed to be this "let's-focus-on-the-economy" session.

TAXATION

bullet Automobiles: Would have required the counties to impose a 1.0 percent value tax annually on vehicles except for ambulances, limousines, rentals, commercial vehicles and cars more than 10 years old.

Where it died: 1

Capitol assessment: Lawmakers in both chambers refused to let this initiative from Gov. Cayetano out of the garage.

bullet Education tax: Would have raised the excise tax from 4.0 to 5.35 percent with much of the additional 1.35 percent earmarked for higher and lower education.

Where it died: 3

Capitol assessment: It created a stir, but it never got out of the Senate's money committee, although the measure was proposed by two of the panel's members.

TRANSPORTATION:

bullet Lower blood-alcohol level: Would have toughened the DUI law by lowering the blood-alcohol level for driving under the influence from 0.08 to 0.04 percent. Where it died: 2

Capitol assessment: Lawmakers questioned piecemeal approach to lowering the DUI level.



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