'Gut and replace' bill would give emergency powers to health director
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii implores state legislators to hold back the measure until there can be broader public input
News Release from Grassroot Institute, June 24, 2020 (See update below)
HONOLULU, June 24, 2020 >> Hawaii legislators should hold off on making any rash decisions about a bill that would give the state director of health broad powers to declare a statewide public health emergency.
That's the message of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii in testimony submitted today to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health, which will be meeting at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, to consider HB2502, Proposed SD1.
According to Joe Kent, institute executive vice president, "The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii has grave concerns about the content of the proposed bill, which would give the state director of health broad powers to declare a public health emergency; screen, test, isolate and monitor individuals; close schools and businesses; release confidential information; and take other, unspecified actions if the director deems it necessary for the public health".
The powers contemplated in this bill are so sweeping and broad, Kent said, as to raise significant questions about privacy, civil liberties and constitutionality. Moreover, as a “gut and replace” bill, the proposed language "should not be contemplated without full opportunity for public testimony and comment — something that is not possible during this truncated legislative session."
Kent strongly urged the committee members to defer this measure, on the grounds that "Hawaii’s citizens and policymakers need more time to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state response before enacting legislation that addresses the state’s police powers during a future crises."
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HB2502 UPDATE: Lawmakers pare back quarantine-powers bill after public concern
KHON June 26, 2020: … After thousands of pages of testimony mostly in opposition, lawmakers on Thursday pared back a draft bill that would have given government sweeping new powers related to quarantine, an issue Always Investigation reported on Wednesday.
“We’re going to remove the sole authority of the Director of Health to declare a public health emergency,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker, chair of the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee. “That instead needs to be vested as it is with the governor.”
The consumer protection committee also removed the Transient Accommodations Tax as a funding mechanism for a proposed extended screening and order-enforcement, and they intend to add ways that those ordered into quarantine can challenge it quickly in court.
“What we’re going to need is due process,” said committee member Sen. Laura Thielen. “This is going to be especially important for people who are not residents because they’re not going to have access to understand the legal system here, but a lot of residents won’t either and it’s going to be raising due process issues. I think it’s best if we have some kind of expedited ex parte process if somebody does want to challenge it.”
Baker agreed, saying language would be worked on “to make sure there’s a way that folks who are being isolated, ordered into isolation or quarantine if they feel that’s not appropriate, have a way of challenging that and having it be done in an expedited manner.”
Sen. Russell Ruderman added: “I’m very cautious about going down this road, I share some of the concerns of the thousands of people we heard from opposing it. I would be more comfortable if it had a much quicker sunset date so we can revisit and analyze it quickly with public input and review.”
The state Department of Health had testified in favor of the measure….
The Attorney General’s office drafted the language of the bill at DOH’s request….
The committee advanced bill HB2502, which now goes to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for consideration. Track the measure HB2502 here.
read … Lawmakers pare back quarantine-powers bill after public concern
Related: Dead in Conference Ctte: HB220 would expand Department of Health emergency powers
Flashback: VIDEO: Hawaii DoH Official Goes on 10-minute Rant Against Corona Testing
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an independent nonprofit research and educational institution that seeks, in the spirit of “E hana kakou!” (Let’s work together!), to educate people about the value of individual liberty, economic freedom and accountable government.