Governor signs
business-friendly bills

Gov. Linda Lingle has signed bills into law intended to boost Hawaii as a place for investment and business expansion, saving money for companies by reducing fees and qualifying them for cheaper health care plans.

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"I consider them building blocks in us building a reputation as a good place to do business, a fair place to invest," Lingle said.

Lingle invited business organizations and Republican and Democratic state lawmakers to yesterday's ceremony at the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

"These really were group-effort bills," she said, citing that they passed the Legislature unanimously. "And we don't necessarily have a lot of those that come across."

House Vice Speaker Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Makiki-Dowsett Highlands) said this was the first time the Republican governor invited the entire Legislature to a bill-signing ceremony. Previously, Lingle invited only Republican lawmakers.

Bills signed into law yesterday included:

>>Senate Bill 1318, CD1, which reduces many of the business registration fees the state charges by 50 percent or more, and authorizes the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs director to further adjust those fees to keep revenues in line with expenditures.

Director Mark Recktenwald said the reduced fees will save Hawaii businesses $1.5 million per year.

>> Senate Bill 2906, CD1, which reduces the fee the state charges businesses for certificates of good standing to $5 from $25.

>> House Bill 2408, SD1, which requires health insurers to offer group plans to trade and professional associations.

>> Senate Bill 2358, CD1, which sets up a process for property owners and contractors to resolve construction defect claims without going to court.

>> Senate Bill 2882, HD1, which opens the door for foreign insurers to become licensed in Hawaii and sell insurance throughout the country.

>> Senate Bill 2908, CD1, which clarifies ambiguities and corrects errors and inconsistencies in state business regulation laws. It also allows directors or shareholders of a corporation to act with less than unanimous consent and authorizes the appointment of a trustee for dissolved corporations.

>> House Bill 2411, CD1, which conforms state insurance laws with federal law, and exempts health insurance polices for self-employed persons from mandatory coverage requirements.

>> House Bill 851, CD1, which repeals the so-called "pay to play" law which requires the payment of assessed taxes before they can be appealed to the Tax Appeal Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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