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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 6, 2004

Panel passes speeding measure

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Drivers caught racing on public roads would face tougher penalties, including vehicle forfeiture on a second offense, under a bill approved by the Senate Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee yesterday.

Senate Bill 2017 would increase penalties for those who exceed the speed limit by at least 30 mph by setting a one-year license suspension for a first racing offense and making those convicted of a second offense within five years subject to a vehicle forfeiture and a three-year license suspension.

A third offense within five years would be a class C felony and would be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a five-year license suspension.

The bill's approval follows a number of racing fatalities on O'ahu roads, including a fiery crash Feb. 13 on H-1 freeway in Pearl City that left four people dead.

The committee also approved a bill requiring children ages 4 to 7 and weighing less than 80 pounds to sit in a car safety seat or booster seat.

Current law requires drivers to secure children younger than 4 in a child safety seat.

The committee also passed a bill that would make it illegal to operate a vehicle with any measurable amount of illegal drugs in a person's blood, with an exemption for medical marijuana.

The bills are among hundreds passed by various committees to meet yesterday's deadline in preparation for major floor voting next week in the House and Senate. All measures, except the budget, had to be passed out of their assigned committees by yesterday to remain alive.

Other bills passed this week and poised for floor votes next week:

• House Bill 2002 sets up a new student spending formula, basing school financing on the individual needs of students, rather than school enrollment.

• Senate Bill 2843 would establish a ballot question asking voters whether the state constitution should be amended to allow the Legislature to eliminate the requirement that convicted sex offenders should receive a court hearing before their names and other information are publicized under the state's Megan's Law.

• Senate Bill 2447 and House Bill 2370 would conform Hawai'i wiretapping law with federal law, essentially easing certain restrictions. Unlike federal law, state law requires an "adversary" court hearing on a request for a wiretap warrant, in which a court-appointed lawyer represents the interests of the public to oppose a warrant.

• Senate Bill 3125 proposes a constitutional amendment that creates an advisory council that would make recommendations for University of Hawai'i Board of Regents appointments to the governor. Six council members would be appointed by the governor, three by the Senate president and three by the House speaker.

• Senate Bill 2023 establishes a three-stage graduated driver licensing program for minors and requires minors, with limited exceptions, to be accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian when driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. It also requires minors with driving permits to be drive with a person who is at least 21 years old.

• House Bill 2259 makes using the 911 emergency telephone number to make a false alarm, false complaint, or report of false information a misdemeanor.

• Senate Bill 2848 creates offenses of second-degree bribery for public servants, a class C felony, and giving unlawful gifts to public servants.

Among the bills that are failing:

• A constitutional amendment question aimed at restoring "walk and talk" and "knock and talk" drug investigations.

• A measure to authorize issuance of GO bonds to complete the restoration of the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.

• A bill making it illegal for condominium and apartment owners to place no-pet clauses in rental contracts.

Reach Lynda Arakawa at larakawa@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.