Hawaii Legislative Watch: People vs. Government
by Rachelle Chang March 5, 2013 Better Hawaii (crossover bills highlighted in yellow)
Recently, we’ve looked at proposed bills in the 2013 Hawaii Legislative session that affect taxes and education. This week, let’s look at bills that pit residents against government.
There are 10 issues, large and small, in which government is intruding more into our lives and our businesses. If I’ve missed any important bills that limit our rights and freedoms, please let me know!
1. Fewer consumer rights: HB 663 and HB1198 ban non-biodegradable single-use checkout bags. SB619 bans polystyrene foam take-out containers. SB620 requires food services businesses to offer compostable or reusable food containers at no extra cost. HB243 and SB428 ban consumer fireworks statewide. Businesses and consumers should make the decision about plastic bags, styrofoam, and fireworks.
2. Privacy concerns: SB693 establishes a red light camera pilot program. This infringes on our privacy, cannot account for the timing of yellow lights, and can only catch the vehicle, not the actual driver. SB465 establishes penalties for “constructive invasion of privacy” if a person (celebrity) has a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. This seems both too narrow (Does it only apply to celebrities? Does everyone have the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy?) and too broad (What about photos of crimes in progress, investigative reporting, and people in the background? What about candid but inoffensive photos of celebrities?).
3. More constraints on law-abiding firearms owners: SB36 requires annual renewals of firearm registrations and mandatory education and training every two years. This makes it unreasonably difficult to own a registered firearm (criminals won’t have this problem).
4. Limits on free speech: HB119 would allow only “natural persons” the right of freedom of speech. What is a “natural person” and could this limit the free speech of other “persons”? HB272 and SB196 make “abusive conduct” against a public employee a “violation”. Who decides what is “abusive conduct” and could this be used to intimidate or retaliate against legitimate complainants?
5. Fewer rights for smokers: HB1210 prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle if a minor is present. SB616 prohibits smoking at public bus stops, parks, beaches, and in motor vehicles if a minor is present. Smokers are being pushed out of private and public spaces.
6. Fewer rights in public housing: HB83, HB515, HB740, HB884, SB88, SB944, and SB1115 ban open containers of intoxicating liquor on sidewalks and/or common areas within public housing projects. HB86, SB330, SB651, and SB942 ban smoking anywhere in a public housing project. Public housing residents should have the choice to ban smoking and alcohol.
7. More constraints on fishermen: HB731 prohibits catching uhu (parrotfish) within state marine waters. SB1320 prohibits catching any parrotfish. This is difficult to enforce; fishermen can’t choose which fish to catch. HB1155 restricts opihi harvesting. SB27 prohibits synthetic nets for gill net fishing.
8. More restrictions on farmers’ markets: SB737 establishes a farmers’ market operator license. Will this become a barrier to entry to small farmers and growing businesses?
9. More constraints on dog breeders: HB233 establishes licensing requirements and minimum standards of care for commercial dog breeders. Can this be enforced? Will this apply to family dog breeders?
10. More restrictions on pest control: HB673 establishes a pesticide use fee and reporting system. This means more bureaucracy and more fees. Will this apply to homeowners too? HB1386 establishes a pesticide-free buffer zone around school, child care facilities, and health care facilities. SB648 and SB649 ban pesticides with glyphosate.
Please think about these issues and how they may affect you and everyone around you. If you feel strongly about an issue, speak out! Talk to your family and friends, let your Hawaii legislators know about it, and write letters to the local newspapers.