2016 Hawaii Legislative Watch: Up for Debate

2016 Hawaii Legislature

The 2016 Hawaii Legislative Session started on January 20. It’s hard to believe, but 2,658 bills are under consideration in the House of Representatives and 2,371 bills are up for debate in the Senate.


In previous weeks, I highlighted bills that affect taxes, education, and individual rights vs. government powers. In this last legislative review, I tackle controversial bills that (in my opinion) aren’t black and white, right or wrong. It would be impossible for me to read every bill in such a short time, so I’m relying on bill summaries to accurately reflect a bill’s intentions.

Here is an overview of proposed bills in the 2016 Legislative Session that I think need more discussion and debate. This is a shorter list of bills, grouped into three sections: 4 bills that may be a good idea, 6 bills that could do more harm than good, and 2 bills that seem unnecessary. If I’ve missed any significant bills, please let me know!

4 “This may be a good idea, but I need more convincing” proposals:

  1. Ticket for a windfall. HB1830 authorizes a single operator for a lottery in Hawaii. HB2536 establishes a state lottery to fund homeless programs.
  2. Sports fantasies on my mind. HB1838 and SB2722 authorize fantasy contests. On the other hand, SB2429 prohibits fantasy competitions.
  3. Smoking for adults only. HB385 HD1 and HB587 increase the minimum age for smokers from 18 years to 21 years.
  4. More family leave. HB535, HB1049, HB1785, and SB2229 increase family leave from 4 weeks to 12 weeks.

6 “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” proposals:

  1. Men, women, and everyone. HB2216 requires single-occupancy restrooms in public buildings to be gender-neutral. I like the privacy of separate restrooms.
  2. Politicians rewarding campaign donations. HB2600 creates an income tax deduction for political contributions. The fox rewarding the hens for opening the coop?
  3. Who pays for public education? HB1301 creates an income tax credit for parents or guardians who home-school their children. We all pay for public education. Next will be a tax credit for private school parents, couples with no children, and seniors with adult children.
  4. Who controls the medicine we give our kids? HB1722 requires all public school students to be immunized, except for cases in which the immunization would endanger the life or health of a child. I am concerned about laws that force us to receive immunizations.
  5. This may be the end of recycling. HB167 repeals the Deposit Beverage Container Program. We put a lot of effort into the program. What are the alternatives?
  6. When you lose control over selling your property. HB1319 requires sellers to give qualifying Hawaii residents the right of first refusal in the sale of residential real property. A better way to approach this would be to limit the amount of property that non-residents can own, instead of taking away homeowner rights.

2 “What are they thinking?” proposals:

  1. Standard vs. metric signs. HB399 and SB360 would require roadway signs to show US standard and metric measurements. Is this really necessary?
  2. An association to manage other associations. HB286 establishes the Hawaii Property and Health Association to manage and guide the operation of the Hawaii Property Insurance Association, Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund, and Hawaii Health Insurance Exchange. How many levels of bureaucracy do we need?

If you feel strongly about an issue, please speak up! Contact your state senator and representative by phone, mail, or email. Talk to your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Write to a local newspaper or magazine.

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