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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 9, 2004

How major bills fared at the Legislature

Advertiser Staff

Lawmakers closed the 2004 legislative session Thursday after passing more than 200 bills. Here are many of the more significant bills.

Bills that passed have been sent to Gov. Linda Lingle for signature or veto. Lawmakers can override a veto by a two-thirds vote of each house.



State budget

(HB 1800 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Provides a $3.6 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2004-2005. The bill became law without Gov. Linda Lingle's signature.

Campaign spending

(SB 459 SD1 HD1 CD2)

Prohibits campaign contributions from government contractors selected in a nonbid process for contracts greater than $25,000 and bans contributions from out-of-state corporations and unions. Makes it a felony, instead of a misdemeanor, to falsify reports and contribute under a false name with an intent to circumvent the law.

Ethics training

(HB 680 HD2 SD1 CD1)

Requires ethics training for elected state officials and executive department heads and deputies.

HGEA raises

(HB 1043 SD1 CD1)

Funds arbitrated raises of between 5 percent and 9 percent for 23,000 white-collar government workers in the Hawai'i Government Employees Association. Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed the bill, but lawmakers overrode the veto.

Executive departments

(HB 2741 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Requires the governor to justify to the Legislature deputy director and special assistant positions in the executive branch that are not included in statute. Exempts positions in the state Department of Education and the University of Hawai'i.

Campaign Spending, Office of Elections

(HB 267 HD2 SD2)

Allows the state Campaign Spending Commission and the Office of Elections to communicate directly with the Legislature and the governor, make personnel decisions and purchase equipment without the approval of the state comptroller. Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed the bill, but the Legislature overrode the veto.

Appellate jurisdiction

(HB 2301 HD1 SD1)

Requires most appeals to be filed directly to the Intermediate Court of Appeals rather than the Hawai'i Supreme Court beginning July 2006. Appoints a task force to review changes and make recommendations on implementing the law.

Civil service

(SB 3182 HD1 CD1)

Grants civil service status to existing public employees at the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's business action center.


Vexatious requesters

Would have allowed the state Office of Information Practices to declare a person to be a "vexatious requester" if that person shows a pattern of abusing the records request process. The OIP would be able to limit vexatious requesters' requests for certain government records.

Elected attorney general

Would have proposed a constitutional amendment to provide for the election of the attorney general and the insurance commissioner.

Clean elections

Would have allowed up to three candidates in each House race to receive state money to campaign if they abide by strict contribution and spending limits.


Would have created offenses of second-degree bribery for public servants, a class C felony, and giving unlawful gifts to public servants.

Balanced budget

Would have proposed a constitutional amendment requiring the Legislature to comply with the same standards for balanced budget applicable to the executive branch, and to use the latest Council on Revenues estimates to enact a balanced budget.

Campaign spending commission

Would have allowed the Senate to fire the Campaign Spending Commission executive director without cause and to appoint members of the commission.

Supreme Court

Would have required the Supreme Court to resolve civil cases within one year of taking them "under consideration." Also would have set a six-month time limit for the Intermediate Court of Appeals.



Capital investments

(HB 2396 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Extends the Act 221 high technology tax credits for five years through 2010 and tightens eligibility requirements.

Hawai'i Tourism Authority

(HB 2608 HD1 SD1)

Allows the Hawai'i Tourism Authority to hire its own attorneys and exempts the HTA's accounts from the state comptroller's supervision. Appropriates $8 million out of the tourism special fund to the HTA. Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed the bill, but the Legislature overrode the veto.

Small business waiver

(HB 2074 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Ensures that allowable waivers or reductions of penalties for small businesses will not apply to any laws protecting the environment or cultural resources.

Business registration fees

(SB 1318 SD1 HD2 CD1)

Authorizes the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to adjust business registration fees and other nontax revenues. Reduces filing and miscellaneous fees.

Military business loans

(HB 2662 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Appropriates $100,000 for state loans for businesses threatened by military base realignments and closures.

Certificates of good standing

(SB 2906 SD1 HD2 CD1)

Reduces the filing fees charged for certificates of good standing.

Airport concessionaires

(SB 3080 SD2 HD2 CD1)

Allows the governor to waive or modify the terms of an airport concession's lease and obligations to the state.

Exceptional trees tax deduction

(HB 1848 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Establishes a tax deduction of up to $3,000 for maintaining an "exceptional tree" that is designated by a city or county and is on a taxpayer's property.

Excise Tax Exemption

(SB 2396 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Exempts certain charitable groups from the general excise tax for fees derived from convention, conference, and trade show exhibit or display spaces.

Brewpub licenses

(SB 2606 SD1 HD2 CD1)

Amends brewpub licensing law to authorize brewpubs to sell beer for consumption off-premises.

Fuel tax reduction

(SB 1239 SD1 HD2 CD1)

Reduces total fuel taxes for ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, and other alternative fuels, other than liquefied petroleum gas.


Convention Center

Would have exempted booking records of the Hawai'i Convention Center from the freedom of information law until 10 days after the events have occurred, under certain circumstances. The Legislature passed the bill, but Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed it.

Hotel project tax credit

Would have provided a hotel project tax credit for qualified costs relating to the plan, design, construction and equipment needed to construct, alter, renovate or modify a hotel project. Sets a total available cap of $14 million annually for 10 years.

Entertainment industry tax credit

Would have expanded the provisions of the motion picture and film production tax credit by increasing the credit amount by an unspecified percentage; and includes commercials and sound recordings.

County retail sales tax

Would have authorized counties to establish a retail sales tax of up to one percent on sales of tangible personal property. Changes the transient accommodations tax allocations to the counties if a county enacts a sales tax.

Tax returns

Would have allowed the Tax Department to impose civil penalties and injunctions on tax return preparers who support unrealistic positions on tax returns and on promoters of abusive tax shelters.

Education/Social services


School reform

(SB 3238 SD2 HD2 CD1)

Implements a "weighted student formula," which bases schools' finances on the individual characteristics of students rather than enrollment, by the 2006-2007 school year. Also requires each school to have a council that would have some say over the school's financial and academic plans. Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed the bill but the Legislature overrode the veto.

Junior kindergarten

(SB 17 SD1 HD1 CD2)

Establishes a junior and regular kindergarten. Starting in 2006, children who turn 5 after Aug. 1 would attend junior kindergarten rather than kindergarten, but there would be some flexibility to move the children into whichever level is most appropriate.

Charter schools

(SB 2425 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Appropriates an additional $2.5 million to New Century Charter Schools to reflect an increase in enrollment and an updated per student allocation.

Charter school audit

(HB 2911 HD2 SD1 CD1)

Requires accountings conducted by new century charter schools to be subject to audit and inspection by the charter school administrative office. Requires disclosure of certain financial records and policies and procedures.

Tax check-off

(HB 1860 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Creates a state income tax check-off box to donate $5 of an individual's tax refund to domestic violence programs.

Drug-affected newborns

(SB 2165 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Requires the Department of Human Services to implement a program to provide drug affected newborns and their families with referral services, safe care, and triage procedures.

Pregnant immigrants

(SB 2936 SD2 HD1 CD1)

Authorizes the Department of Human Services to provide state-funded medical assistance for pregnant legal immigrants with low incomes.

Early childhood care

(SB 3230 SD2 HD1 CD1)

Establishes a pilot project providing community-based early childhood care services for children under age five and their families in critical need areas as determined by the Department of Human Services.


Local school boards

Would have proposed a constitutional amendment to break up the public school system into districts with locally elected school boards.

Welfare drug testing

Would have allowed the state to administer drug tests for those receiving public assistance and requires photos of recipients to appear on electronic benefits transfer cards that are issued.

Board of Education

Would have proposed a constitutional amendment increasing the number of voting members on the Board of Education from 14 to 17.

BOE governance

Would have proposed a constitutional amendment giving the Board of Education "exclusive jurisdiction" over the management and operation of the public school system.

Caregiver tax credit

Would have provided a $500 tax credit for caregivers of "eligible care recipients."

Child safety seats

Would have required 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.

Student drug testing

Would have authorized random drug testing of public school students whose parents or legal guardians have consented; specifies procedural requirements.

School nutrition

Would have established nutrition standards for food and beverages sold in public schools and creates a school nutrition advisory council.

Children's Health Insurance Program

Would have increased eligibility for the State Children's Health Insurance Program to 300% of the federal poverty level.



Gasoline price cap

(SB 3193 SD2 HD2 CD1)

Delays the start of the gasoline price cap law from July 1 this year to September 2005. Amends the law by basing the price-cap formula on spot prices in several markets across the nation rather than only on the West Coast, and expands the caps to cover all gasoline grades except diesel.

Enhanced 911

(HB 2883 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Establishes a monthly surcharge of 66 cents on cellular phones to pay for a wireless enhanced 911 system set up by wireless providers and county public safety agencies.

Gift certificates

(HB 2143 HD2 SD1 CD1)

Prohibits retailers and restaurants from charging fees when an electronic gift card hasn't been used for a period of time.

Identity theft

(HB 2674 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Exempts disclosure of social security numbers from government payroll records that are public information. Restricts retail merchant card issuers from sharing cardholder information and requesting personal information except for credit purposes.

Camera phones

(SB 2377 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Amends definition of "record" to include digital recordings for purposes of privacy violations; includes use of any device for recordings that constitute privacy violations.

Workers' compensation fraud

(HB 1374 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Except in criminal cases, authorizes a person who successfully defends a workers' compensation insurance fraud charge to recover attorney's fees and costs from the person who initiates and prosecutes the action. Authorizes the insurance commissioner to investigate complaints and prosecute cases of workers' compensation fraud against an insurance carrier, a self-insured employer, or a full-insured employer.

Workers' compensation, excluded employees

(HB 1919 HD1)

Requires that civil service employees excluded from collective bargaining receive adjustments to compensation and benefit packages at least equivalent to those under collective bargaining.

Property disclosures

(SB 2704 HD1 CD1)

Requires sellers of residential real property to disclose any release or waiver of liability for a construction defect.


Compliance resolution fund

Would have abolished the compliance resolution fund and placed the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' finances within the state general fund.

Workers' compensation dispute

Would have provided for the arbitration of all workers' compensation disputes under a policy negotiated between an employer and union.

Binding arbitration cap

Would have capped the amount HGEA units could receive through binding arbitration at 1.5 percent annually.

Workers' compensation scrutiny

Would have appropriated two new positions in the Disability Compensation Division of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to review and process vocational rehabilitation plans submitted by service providers.

Minimum wage adjustment

Would have tied the state's hourly minimum wage to increases in the federal cost of living allowance.

Worker's compensation law

Would have required that an employee, for the first 120 days after a work-related injury, see a physician or physicians' group on a list approved by the employer.



Crystal methamphetamine

(HB 2003 HD1 SD1)

An omnibus "ice" bill that includes new drug trafficking offenses, allows judges to sentence a first-time, nonviolent drug offender to treatment rather than prison, even if the person has repeated convictions of non-drug crimes, and requires health insurance plans to offer the same level of benefits for substance abuse as they do for other illnesses. Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed the bill, but lawmakers overrode the veto.

Drug treatment, prevention

(HB 2004 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Appropriates $14.7 million to expand drug treatment, prevention and other programs. Gov. Linda Lingle let the bill become law without her signature.

Megan's law

(SB 2843 SD1 HD2)

Proposes a constitutional amendment establishing a public right to access information about sex offenders and allows the Legislature to determine guidelines to such access.

Rape shield

(SB 2846 SD1 HD2)

Proposes a constitutional amendment allowing the Legislature to make inadmissible in trial any privileged communications between a victim and her counselor, psychologist, physician or licensed mental health professional.

Property crimes

(SB 2844 SD1 HD1)

Creates the offense of habitual property crime for those who have repeated property crime convictions and makes the offense a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Information charging

(SB 2851 SD1)

Proposes a constitutional amendment to allow a felony prosecution to be initiated by a criminal prosecuting officer through the filing of a signed written information setting forth the charge.

Sex tours

(HB 2020 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Makes it a class C felony to sell or offer to sell travel services for the purpose of promoting prostitution; authorizes suspension or revocation of travel agency registration for engaging in these acts.


(HB 1770 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Allows the court to revoke driver's licenses for speeding more than 90 mph. Also sets fines of up to $500 for repeatedly allowing car alarm to sound for longer than 5 minutes.


(SB 2294 SD1 HD1)

Amends the offense of criminal trespass in the second degree to prohibit persons from entering or remaining unlawfully on public property for a specified time period, after a reasonable warning or request to leave the premises has been issued. Gov. Linda Lingle signed the bill into law.



Would have eliminated the current requirement for an adversary court hearing on a request for a wiretap warrant, in which a court-appointed lawyer represents the public interest to oppose a warrant.

Traffic cameras

Would have allowed the counties to establish a fixed traffic-enforcement program for red-light and speeding violators.


Would have increased penalties for those who exceed the speed limit by at least 30 mph.

Drug investigations

Would have proposed a constitutional amendment question aimed at restoring "walk and talk" and "knock and talk" drug investigations.


Would have prohibited people from buying ammunition without showing the registration for the firearm for which the ammunition is to be purchased.

Driving with drugs

Would have made it illegal for motorists to drive with any measurable amount of drugs in their blood, even if driving was not impaired.



Prescription drugs

(SB 3237 SD1 HD1)

Fine-tunes a law scheduled to take effect in July that creates a state purchasing pool to buy medicine at discounts and pass the savings on to consumers. Restricts the state program, called Hawai'i Rx Plus, to uninsured or underinsured people who earn no more than 31/2 times the federal poverty level. Gov. Linda Lingle signed the bill into law.

Drug repository

(HB 2005 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Establishes return, credit, and reuse procedures for unused prescription drugs within health care institutions and authorizes pharmacists to receive and redistribute previously dispensed drugs.

Smoking in schools

(HB 2871 HD2 SD1)

Prohibits public employees from using tobacco in public schools and at public school functions, so long as affected public employees be provided smoking breaks at locations off-campus. Requires the Department of Education to offer a smoking cessation program to interested employees.

Public urination

(HB 1828 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Makes public urination or defecation in the downtown Honolulu area a violation punishable by no more than forty hours of community service or a fine of up to $200.

Intranasal vaccines

(HB 2798 HD1 SD2)

Allows appropriately trained pharmacists to administer intranasal or oral vaccines.

Patients' bill of rights

(HB 1839 HD2 SD2)

Authorizes prescribing medically necessary controlled substances to treat severe acute or severe chronic pain, allows doctors to refuse to prescribe but refer patients to doctors who use opiates for pain management. Authorizes the board of medical examiners to establish pain management guidelines.

Hospital building permits

(HB 2539 HD2)

Eliminates requirement for an existing hospital to obtain a Certificate of Need from the Health Department prior to applying for a building permit. Gov. Linda Lingle signed bill into law.

Sterile syringes

(HB 2472 HD2 SD1 CD1)

Makes permanent the law allowing the sale of sterile syringes to intravenous drug users.


Physician-assisted suicide

Would have allowed terminally ill, competent adults to get a lethal dose of medication to end their lives. Prohibits mercy killings, lethal injections, and active euthanasia.

Canadian drugs

Would have authorized the state to purchase prescription drugs from and negotiate manufacturer's rebates with Canadian pharmaceutical companies for participants in the Hawai'i Rx program.

Newborn abandonment

Would have provided immunity from prosecution for leaving an unharmed newborn at a hospital, fire station or police station within 72 hours of birth. Provides immunity from liability for hospitals, fire stations, and police stations and their personnel for receiving a newborn.

Long-term-care reimbursement

Would have authorized state agencies to reimburse family caregivers who provide free and continuous day-to-day care in the home to relatives who are functionally dependent or suffering from dementia.

Tobacco settlement

Would have redirected a portion of tobacco settlement money for crystal methamphetamine abuse treatment and prevention programs.

CPS medical disclosures

Would have allowed all licensed health care providers to share medical information with other licensed health care providers of children under the child protective services system.

QUEST dental services

Would have appropriated money to restore basic dental care for adults enrolled in QUEST and Medicaid, including the aged, blind, and disabled.



Bottle bill

(SB 1611 HD2 CD1)

Fine-tunes the deposit beverage container program that will allow consumers to be charged up to 6 cents per bottle or can beginning Nov. 1, and to redeem those containers for a 5-cent return beginning Jan. 1. Gives retailers required to set up redemption centers until July 1, 2005 to do so.

Light pollution

(HB 1743 HD2 SD2 )

Prohibits floodlights and other artificial lights from shining onto the ocean unless such lights are authorized and required for safety or ocean navigation purposes. Creates an exception for outdoor fixtures at hotels/hotel-condos that are under water or directed downward and illuminate an area of no more than 30 feet into the water.

Renewable energy

(SB 2474 SD3 HD2)

Requires electric utilities to meet a renewable portfolio standard of 15 per cent for 2015 and a goal of 20 per cent for 2020. Includes fossil fuels as renewable energy in certain circumstances. Directs the Public Utilities Commission to study the feasibility of implementing a rate structure to encourage the use of renewable energy.

Solid waste control

(HB 2375 HD1 SD1)

Makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to knowingly dispose of certain amounts of solid waste anywhere other than a permitted solid waste management system without the written approval of the health director.

Illegal dumping

(SB 3092 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Allows people who report illegal dumping activity to receive 50 percent of the fines collected. The rest of the money would go to the Department of Health.

Emergency environmental workforce

(SB 2134 HD1 CD1)

Establishes the emergency environmental workforce program to help the counties combat invasive species but does not provide any funding for it. The program is to be administered by the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai'i.

Net energy meters

(HB 2048 HD1 SD1)

Allows larger renewable energy devices to be "net metered," or hooked up to the electrical grid in a way that allows the owners to sell their surplus power.

Environmental impact statements

(HB 1294 SD1 CD1)

Requires an environmental review for wastewater facilities, waste-to-energy facilities, landfills, oil refineries, and power-generating facilities. Gov. Linda Lingle signed the bill into law.

Natural resource violations

(SB 2968 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Creates a civil natural resource violations system within the Department of Land and Natural Resources to expedite the enforcement of environmental laws within its jurisdiction. Also increases the ability to enforce cave protection and historic resources statewide.


Cruise ship pollution

Would have established the commercial passenger vessel environmental compliance program to monitor and regulate discharges from commercial passenger vessels into State waters.

Hazardous land areas

Would have required each county to inventory and identify hazardous land areas and to adopt standards for building in such areas.

Solar requirements

Would have required solar hot water heaters for all new residential developments.

Aquatic inspections

Would have allowed state inspectors to inspect any bag, vehicle, or container used to carry aquatic life, without showing probable cause, to inspect for the possibility of illegal fishing.

Muddy runoff

Would have raised penalty for violating the state Clean Water Act from $25,000 to $40,000; allows citizens to bring lawsuits against violators.



Traffic court fees

(HB 2294)

Doubles fees for processing traffic citations, adding between $5 and $15 per ticket, with half the money tagged for the Judiciary's new computer system.

Illegal car tinting

(HB 1987 HD1 SD1)

Increases the maximum fines that can be levied on illegal sun screens to $500 for vehicle owners and $1,000 for installers.


(HB 2024 HD1)

Prohibits person restrained by court order from transferring ownership of firearm while court order is in effect. Gov. Linda Lingle signed the bill into law.

Ni'ihau shell products

(HB 2569 HD1 SD1)

Prohibits items made of seashells from being labeled "Ni'ihau" unless the item contains 100% Ni'ihau shells and is made entirely in Hawai'i.

Family court

(HB 1980 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Allows open hearings in Family Court child protective services matters. Allows parents involved in such matters to bring a non-lawyer advocate to hearings.

Homestead leases

(SB 2440 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Allows 999-year homestead leases and certificates of occupation to be assigned to a parent's siblings, children of a parent's siblings, or grandchildren of a parent's siblings.

National Guard tax deductions

(HB 1904 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Increases the allowable income tax deduction for National Guard members and reservists over five years beginning in 2005.

Equal pay

(HB 2025 HD3 SD2)

Establishes a pay equity task force to make recommendations for funds and specific actions to correct any gender-based pay inequities.


Civil unions

Would have allowed unrelated couples, including gays, to form civil unions that give them the same benefits and obligations as married people.

Sexual orientation discrimination

Would have barred landlords and real estate agents from discriminating against someone in a real estate transaction based on sexual orientation.

Rental unit pets

Would have barred landlords and rental agents from imposing "no pet" policies on their residential and apartment units.

Intra-island ferry system

Would have appropriated money to establish and implement a permanent intra-island water ferry system.

Animal cruelty

Would have created a new felony offense of aggravated animal cruelty for repeated animal cruelty behavior and harming pet animals for intimidation of persons. It exempts certain offenses related to fighting animals.

Mass transit planning

Would have established a mass transit planning account with up to $3.6 million to be used to develop a mass transit plan that includes a fixed guideway mass transit system, as well as an environmental impact statement for such a plan.