Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Advertiser Staff

Posted on: Sunday, May 17, 2009

How major bills fared at the Capitol

 •  Hawaii governor, Legislature began session on high note, ended in a 'mess' of contention

State lawmakers adjourned the session on May 8 after reviewing hundreds of bills. Here is the status of some of the more significant bills. Bills that have passed have been sent to Gov. Linda Lingle for her signature or veto. The governor can also allow bills to become law without her signature. Lawmakers can override vetoes by two-thirds' votes in each chamber.



State budget
(HB 200 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Closes the budget deficit through a combination of spending cuts, program reductions and the elimination of 200 mostly vacant state jobs. Relies on separate bills to raise taxes and divert revenue to the general fund.

Ceded lands
(SB 1677 SD1 HD2 CD1)

Requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature before the state sells former crown lands.

Salary freeze
HB 1536 HD2 SD1 CD1)

Imposes a 5 percent pay cut and freezes the salaries of the governor, lieutenant governor, judges, state department directors and state lawmakers through 2011.

Campaign finance
(HB 128 HD1 SD1 CD2)

Restricts limitation on contributions by contractors with the state to contributions by nonbid contractors only. Increases percentage limit on contributions by Mainland residents from 20 percent to 30 percent. Allows campaign funds to be used for donations to public schools or public libraries, subject to limitations.


Highway modernization

A six-year, $4 billion plan to upgrade highways that would be financed in part through vehicle tax and fee increases.

Recreational renaissance

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources' major renovation plan for state parks, trails and small-boat harbors.

Broadband commission

Establishes a commission to oversee the telecommunications and cable services industries and to expand broadband capabilities.

Civil unions

Provides same-sex partners who enter into civil unions the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as married couples under state law.

Rainy-day fund

Diverts money from the state's rainy-day fund to maintain spending levels for health, human services and public education programs.

Ceded lands moratorium

Prohibits the state from selling ceded lands until Native Hawaiian claims are resolved or until 2014.

Publicly financed elections

Delays a pilot project for comprehensive public funding of Big Island County Council elections from 2010 to 2014.

Corporate campaign contributions

Adjusts the limit on contributions from corporate treasuries to corporate political action committees. The limit would be $50,000 per election cycle, up from $2,000.

Tourism emergency

Adds a national or global economic crisis to the situations considered a tourism emergency.

Aloha Tower Development Corp.

Abolishes the Aloha Tower Development Corp. and transfers functions to the Hawai'i Community Development Authority, except for harbors modernization, which would fall under the state Department of Transportation.

Voting rights for prisoners

Allows prisoners with less than two years remaining in their sentences to vote by absentee ballot in state elections.

Rail-transit tax

Diverts $150 million from Honolulu's rail-transit tax to help the state close the budget shortfall. The city would have the option to extend the tax surcharge for two years. The state would also repay the city in the short-term with $250 million in bonds.




Income tax increase
(HB 1747 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Raises state income taxes on higher-income residents and in two years increases the standard deduction and personal exemption, which would provide breaks for some taxpayers. Higher taxes would apply to individuals who make $150,000 a year or more, heads of households who make $225,000 a year or more, and couples that make $300,000 a year or more.

Hotel-room tax increase
(SB 1111 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Increases the hotel-room tax over two years — from 7.25 percent to 9.25 percent — to generate money for the general fund.

Conveyance tax
(HB 1741 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Increases the conveyance tax on the sale of property worth $2 million or more and on second homes. Temporarily reduces conveyance tax revenues to the rental housing trust fund and the natural area reserve fund.

Cigarette tax
(HB 1175 HD3 SD2 CD1)

Increases the cigarette tax from 10 cents per cigarette by 2 cents, which, along with previously scheduled increases, brings the tax to 13 cents beginning July 2009, 14 cents beginning July 2010, and 15 cents beginning July 2011.

Tobacco tax
(HB 895 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Raises wholesale taxes on smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco and cigars to increase revenue for the general fund.

Tobacco settlement fund
(SB 292 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Diverts money from the tobacco-settlement fund to the general fund.

High-tech tax credits
(SB 199 SD1 HD1 CD2)

Places an 80 percent cap on tax liability write-offs from high-technology tax credits known as Act 221. Limits investor return to a one-to-one ratio.

Food and energy security
(HB 1271 HD3 SD2 CD1)

Increases the "barrel tax" on each barrel of petroleum product sold by a distributor from 5 cents to $1.05. Allocates portions of the taxes collected to various funds to promote renewable energy and protect agriculture.

Internet sales tax
(SB 1678 SD3 HD1 CD1)

Allows Hawai'i to join with other states in a compact to help collect taxes on Internet sales, pending federal legislation.

Internet GET tax
(HB 1405 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Establishes a nexus standard to apply the state general excise tax on Mainland retailers that have a local Web presence.

Mandatory tax credit
(HB 35 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Provides a $1 tax credit to satisfy a state constitutional requirement after two straight years of budget surplus.


GET increase

Increases the state general excise tax to raise money for public education, tax breaks for low- and middle-income residents, and to help close the budget deficit.

Hotel-room tax for counties

Suspends the distribution of hotel-room tax revenues to counties for six years to help close the state's budget shortfall.

Rental car surcharge

Increases the $3 rental car surcharge by an unspecified amount to raise money for the general fund.


Legalizes slot machines and video poker machines in designated resort areas on O'ahu and at security areas at Honolulu International Airport.




Charter schools
(SB 496 SD2 HD2 CD1)

Clarifies the functions and duties of the charter school review panel to improve fiscal and budgetary accountability.

Sex education
(SB 777 SD1 HD1)

Requires groups that receive state funding for sexual health education provide medically accurate, factual information that is age-appropriate and that includes education on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus.

College savings
(HB 1057 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Allows family members and friends to contribute to state-established college savings accounts for children that are currently limited to contributions from the account owners.

Military children
(SB 1164 SD2 HD2 CD1)

Enacts the interstate compact on educational opportunity for military children to remove barriers to educational attainment faced by children of military families due to frequent moves and deployment of parents.

School meals
(SB 160 SD2)

Adds a definition of "school meals" to include breakfast and lunch and clarifies that the state Department of Education shall set prices for all school meals, based on the previous year's cost.

Green schools
(HB 986 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Requires construction and renovation of public school facilities to meet the Collaborative for High Performance Schools standards. Requires replacement of old portable buildings with high performance classrooms.


Abstinence education

Requires the state to reject federal money for mandated abstinence-only-until-marriage education programs.

Home school activities

Requires the state Department of Education to allow children who are home schooled to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school they would otherwise attend.

VEBA trust

Moves up the sunset date of the law on the Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association to July, up from July 2010. Requires that, upon insolvency, the trust and the Hawai'i State Teachers Association assume all liabilities and indemnify the state.

Charter school funding

Eliminates the per-pupil method of funding for charter schools, requiring the charter schools to follow the same budgetary request process as other state agencies. Requires the Charter School Administrative Office to submit a report of all means of financing with its budgetary request to the state.

Reconstituting schools

Allows the schools superintendent to reconstitute public schools. The superintendent can also recommend to the charter school review panel actions that should be taken to reconstitute a charter school that has been in restructuring for three or more school years.

Facilities commission

Creates the Facilities Alignment Commission to establish criteria for the selection of public schools to be constructed, expanded, consolidated or closed.

Tuition assistance

Expands the state adjutant general's authority to award tuition assistance to Hawai'i National Guard members at the University of Hawai'i.




Home-care licensing
(SB 415 SD2 HD1 CD1)

Requires the state Department of Health to license home-care agencies.

Worker retraining
(SB 1665 SD2 HD1 CD1)

Establishes a program at community colleges to retrain and cross-train workers to help them adapt during the economic downturn.

Employee credit history
(HB 31 SD1 CD1)

Bars employers from using a person's credit history or credit report to discriminate in hiring or termination.

Union organizing
(HB 952 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Allows workers to organize a union when a majority sign unions cards at companies with annual gross revenue of $5 million or more. The method is an alternative to secret ballot elections.

Mortgage fraud
(SB 34 SD1 HD1 CD1)

Excludes certified public accountants and licensed real estate brokers and salespersons from the definition of distressed property consultants in the Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act. Prohibits certain conduct relating to the acquisition of an ownership interest in distressed property by licensed real estate brokers and salespersons.

Insurance fraud
(HB 262 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Expands the authority of the state insurance division's insurance fraud investigations unit to prevent, investigate, and prosecute — both civilly and criminally — insurance fraud to all lines of insurance except workers' compensation.

Rental car transport
(HB 267 HD2 SD1)

Promotes the interisland shipment of rental cars by easing documentation requirements for these vehicles when they are transported by any water carrier.

Federal grants
(HB 1739 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Deters tax fraud and conforms state tax law to the Internal Revenue Code for tax preparers and tax return accuracy-related issues.


Temporary health insurance

Creates a temporary health insurance program in the state Department of Human Services for workers who have lost their healthcare benefits as the result of a layoff, furlough or reduction in hours.

Tenant rights after domestic violence

Allows a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence to terminate his or her rental agreement.

Unemployment options after domestic violence

Allows victims of domestic and sexual violence to collect unemployment insurance benefits when the victim is separated from employment and is unable to accept otherwise suitable and available work.

911 services

Establishes a single entity to administer enhanced 911 services for the state.

Plastic toys

Requires the Legislative Reference Bureau to study the risks involved in the use of phthalates and bisphenol-A in consumer products, including children's toys.




Electronic harassment
(HB 615 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Extends the offense of harassment to all forms of electronic communication to prevent people from being harassed through new and innovative technology.

Ignition interlock
(HB 981 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Requires drivers arrested for drunken driving to have ignition interlock devices on their vehicles to check for alcohol.

Animal hoarding
(SB 1222 SD1 HD1 CD2)

Prohibits the confinement of a pet animal in a kennel or cage in a cruel or inhumane manner. Prohibits the tethering or restraining of a dog to a dog house or any other stationary object by means of a choke collar. Reduces from 20 to 15 the number of dogs or cats required for the animal hoarding statute to apply.

Selling dead bodies
(HB 28 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Expands the prohibition against buying dead human bodies to include the selling of dead human bodies. Defines the term "dead human body" to include plastinated bodies and body parts and increases the fine for buying or selling a dead human body to up to $5,000.


Red-light cameras

Establishes a photo red-light imaging detector system and authorizes counties to implement the program. Requires fines collected to be paid directly to the county in which the fine occurred.

Karen's law

Mandates that minors between the ages of 15 and 17 be tried as adults in cases of first- and second-degree murder. Provides for discretionary remand of the minor in specified cases.

Fireworks task force

Creates a task force to study ways to stop the importation of illegal fireworks and explosives.

Mainland prisoners

Requires the return of all prisoners held on the Mainland by the end of 2015. Orders the state Department of Public Safety to construct sufficient prison space to house the returning inmates.

Hawaiian prisoners

Establishes a task force within the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs to study the disparate treatment of Native Hawaiians and other ethnic groups in the state's criminal justice system.

Distracted driving

Prohibits teenagers under 18 with provisional licenses or temporary instruction permits from using cell phones or eating while driving to discourage distractions.

Second-degree theft

Increases the minimum value of stolen property or services constituting theft in the second degree from $300 to an unspecified dollar amount.


Amends current law to clarify the acts that constitute prohibited dogfighting. Makes it illegal to organize, facilitate, attend or wager on a dogfight.


Prohibits the possession of gaffs designed to be attached to gamecocks or other fighting fowl.

Gun rights

Prohibits the government from seizing lawfully permitted firearms during a civil defense or disaster relief emergency.

Excessive speeding

Exempts excessive speeding from the requirement to provide proof of financial responsibility from a license suspension or revocation. Decriminalizes the offense for first-time offenders. Removes license suspension for first-time offenders.




Public hospitals
(SB 1673 SD2 HD2 CD1)

Authorizes public hospitals in the Hawai'i Health Systems Corp. to go private and amend maintenance of service requirements to become more financially competitive. Restructures the corporate board to promote greater regional autonomy.

(SB 1676 SD2)

Clarifies that telehealth, such as the Hawai'i Medical Service Association's new Online Care initiative, is within the scope of a physician's practice.

Smoking in prisons
(SB 1073 SD1 HD2 CD1)

Authorizes smoking in designated areas of correctional facilities for employees and volunteers.

Keiki Care
(HB 989 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Extends the children's healthcare program for three years and requires that participants receive primary healthcare services at federally qualified health centers.

Universal healthcare
(HB 1504 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Establishes the Hawai'i Health Authority to develop a comprehensive plan to provide universal healthcare.

End-of-life treatment
(HB 1379 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Creates a process for a patient to direct end-of-life treatment in a standardized physician orders-for-life sustaining form.


Medical-malpractice reform

Encourages further caps on noneconomic damages in medical-malpractice lawsuits against doctors in five specialties. A task force would recommend the caps and a rate commission would suggest market-based malpractice premiums.

Hawai'i Health Corps

Establishes a loan repayment program and other incentives to attract doctors and dentists to practice in rural or underserved areas.

Emergency contraception

Requires hospitals to provide information about emergency contraception to women who are sexually assaulted and to provide emergency contraception when requested.


Authorizes prescriptive authority for qualified psychologists who practice at federally qualified health centers.

Smoking at public events

Bans smoking at public beaches, parks and recreational areas during certain community events.

Smoking in public housing

Restricts smoking to no more than half of the units in public housing complexes and limits smoking outside to designated smoking areas.

Emergency room doctors

Provides additional legal protection for doctors who render medical services in emergency situations involving an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury, including emergency obstetrical care.

Healthcare for uninsured

Provides money to offer healthcare for the uninsured through nonprofit community-based providers.

Slim cigarettes

Prohibits the sale of slim or ultra-slim cigarettes that have been marketed to women as lipstick-sized "purse packs."

Food stamps

Eases state eligibility requirements in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as the food stamp program.




Renewable energy
(HB 1464 HD3 SD2 CD1)

Provides for and encourages renewable energy use and development, and energy efficiency, including increasing requirements for renewable energy portfolio standard, expanding duties of the energy resources coordinator, establishing energy efficiency portfolio standards, requiring energy-efficient state buildings, requiring sellers to provide electricity-cost information, and appropriating funds from the Renewable Energy Facility Siting Special Fund.

(SB 1338 SD2 HD2 CD1)

Allows the use of clotheslines on any privately owned single-family home or townhouse.

Kahana Valley
(HB 1552 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Places a two-year moratorium on the evictions of people who live at Kahana Valley State Park.

Mauna Kea
(HB 1174 HD3 SD2 CD1)

Authorizes the University of Hawai'i to charge fees and enter into lease agreements for the Mauna Kea lands, adopt rules to regulate public and commercial activities on Mauna Kea lands, and establish and collect administrative fines for violations.

Agriculture utilities
(HB 591 HD1 SD2)

Authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to set preferential rates for the purchase of renewable energy produced in conjunction with agricultural activities.

Hybrid vehicles
(SB 2 SD2 HD2 CD1)

Establishes the development of energy efficient vehicles as a state policy goal. Requires the designation of parking spaces for electric vehicles. Requires state and county agencies to follow a priority list when purchasing energy-efficient vehicles.


Bottle redemption

Requires large supermarkets and big-box retailers to serve as redemption centers for recycled bottles and cans.

Genetically engineered taro

Prohibits the development, testing, release, importation, planting or growing of genetically engineered taro.

Fossil-fuel plants

Prohibits the approval of any new electricity generating facilities using fossil fuel and the modification of existing electricity generating facilities to allow the use of more fossil fuel.

Leeward Coast landfills

Places a moratorium on new solid-waste landfills or the expansion of existing private landfills on the Leeward Coast.

Ag land protection

Sets a 100-year moratorium on the development of agricultural land on the North Shore and surrounding areas unless general planning has already started.

Moloka'i fishing

Designates certain state waters around Moloka'i as a community subsistence fishing area.

Ka'ena Point

Establishes a pilot program to issue annual passes for residents to fish overnight at Ka'ena Point State Park Reserve.

Genetically modified plants

Prohibits state administrative regulatory actions and county regulatory actions from banning or otherwise regulating activities related to genetically modified plant organisms, with certain exceptions.

Superferry EIS

Extends a law that allows Hawaii Superferry to operate while the state completes an environmental impact statement.

Smoking ban in Waikiki

Prohibits smoking on Waikiki Beach.




Affordable housing
(HB 1186 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Eliminates the Hawai'i Community Development Authority's cash-in-lieu option for meeting reserved housing requirements, while retaining the option in cases of a fractional unit resulting from the percentage requirement calculation.

(HB 994 HD1 SD2 CD1)

Provides money for the application for a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration to establish space tourism in Hawai'i.

Zipper lanes
(SB 714 SD1 HD2 CD1)

Allows all motor vehicles, regardless of number of persons on board, to use high occupancy vehicle lanes or zipper lanes when one or more lanes of traffic have been shut down by law enforcement officers or emergency services personnel.

State insect
(HB 135)

Designates the Kamehameha butterfly as the state insect.

Patriot Day
(HB 274)

Designates Sept. 11 as Patriot Day.

Manta ray protection
(HB 366 HD2 SD2 CD1)

Establishes fines and penalties for any person who knowingly captures or kills a manta ray within state marine waters. Provides an exception for special permits granted for scientific, education, management or propagation purposes.

Pet protection
(HB 1512 HD1 SD1 CD1)

Expands temporary restraining orders to include restrictions on visiting, threatening or disposing of pet animals.


Homeless to the Mainland

Helps the homeless who have moved here from other states return to the Mainland.

Leaf blowers

Prohibits the use of leaf blowers during early mornings and late evenings to reduce noise pollution.

Coqui frogs

Authorizes counties to use a portion of hotel-room tax revenues for coqui frog eradication.

Filipino veterans

Requires the state Office of Veterans Services to make burial grant payments for burial costs and for transportation to the Philippines of the remains of deceased veterans who joined the New Filipino Scouts between October 1945 and June 1947 and died after June 2004.

Low-income housing tax credits

Makes state low-income housing tax credits more valuable by shortening the period over which the credits can be taken from 10 years to five years.

Solar-powered condos

Gives boards of directors the authority to install solar energy or wind energy devices on the common elements of condominiums.

Mobile billboards

Amends the restrictions on the use of mobile billboards. Exempts businesses using vehicles with advertising in the daily function of the advertised business.

Driver's licenses

Requires applicants for driver's licenses and instruction permits to submit proof of legal residency in the United States.

Donation fishing

Prohibits pedestrians from walking in or on a highway or its right-of-way for the purpose of soliciting or accepting donations of any kind.

Fireworks ban

Allows counties to adopt more restrictive rules on fireworks than in state law.