'Boneheaded' Bills and More Legislative Highlights from Hawaii
The proposed Steven Tyler Act that would grant celebrities and other public officials more privacy by penalizing those who record or photograph them on private property without their permission is gaining more notoriety nationally.
An editorial in the USA Today called it unconstitutional and outlined several reasons it should be opposed.
An editorial in the New York Times called the idea “bone headed.”
Journalism groups, which oppose the measure, are mounting a campaign to defeat the legislation in the House, because they believe it is unconstitutional and will hurt newsgathering and reporting efforts.
Steven Tyler and Mick Fleetwood came to the Hawaii State Senate Judciary committee along with their attorney to testify in favor of the bill.
Several other celebrities including Britney Spears and all of the Ozborne family members have joined Tyler in lobbying for the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Kalani English at Tyler’s request.
The Senate judiciary and labor committee passed out two bills last Friday that will heighten penalties against patrons of prostitutes.
Those current arrested for prostitution – even with children – are arrested just on a petty misdemeanor, which is equal in penalty to remaining over hours at a city park.
The legislation would make it a more serious crime to solicit a child prostitute and crack down on those who solicit prostitutes near schools.
A second bill would prevent those busted for soliciting prostitutes from having the offense wiped from their record.
Kathryn Xian, who heads the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, said the children who are working as prostitutes are trafficking victims, and more needs to be done to protect them.
Proposals to impose new taxes on sugary beverages, plastic bags and conveyance tax are moving forward.
The House has given life to a proposal to increase the state’s General excise tax by 25 percent to fund teachers’ salaries.
And fees are also on the rise. The Department of Health is a proposal to raise the marriage license fee from $60 to $100. And licensing application and renewal fees on regulated businesses may also be increased.
A proposal to increase gasoline taxes was deferred in the Senate but could still be revived.
The Senate is also moving a plan to increase the state Transit Accommodation Tax, which is charged on hotel rooms.
Rep. K. Mark Takai introduced a House resolution that suggests granting military funeral honors and burial benefits to Hawaii’s governors, even if they have not served in the military.
The bill was heard in the House and deferred for now, even though the only two groups to submit testimony were in support.
But veterans who heard about the resolution after the fact say they are strongly opposed to allowing public officials - who did not serve in the military and serve or sacrifice - to have government funded burial benefits.
"As a veteran, I would be totally against authorizing the state (National Guard) to provide military funeral honors to a non-veteran, Governor, and against a proposed legislation for any non -veteran who did not serve or sacrifice; nor wear the fabric of our nation to receive any government funded burial benefits," said U.S. Marine Veteran Gene Castagnetti.
All for the Kids?
There was an epic battle on the Senate’s chamber floor yesterday, but Hawaii’s children were on the losing end. The city prosecutor pushed through a bill that would mandate a minimum prison term of 6 years and 8 months for sex offenders who targeted children 11 years old and younger.
But Sen. Sam Slom was hoping for the passage of Jessica’s Law, which mandates a 25-year sentence for those preying on minors. After a debate on the floor Tuesday between Slom and Judiciary chairman Clayton Hee, Slom was asked to submit an amendment proposal.
Slom, the only Republican, tried to do so on Wednesday, but none of the 24 Democrats would second his amendment so it could be debated. Finally, after Sen, Les Ihara agreed to offer the second, Slom called for a roll call vote. All of the Democrats except one - who walked off the floor for a vote - opposed the amendment. Senators thought the penalties on those who target children were too harsh.
Jessica’s law is named for Jessica Lunsford, a 9 year old girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered when she was buried alive by her captor who was a twice convicted sex offender released from prison after serving very little time.
Some 44 states have a version of Jessica’s law, and Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford, has gone from state to state to lobby for the bill. He offered to come to Hawaii to tell Jessica’s story if lawmakers had been willing to listen.
Gaming the System
Senators who favor legalizing gambling pushed through a last minute proposal on Wednesday to keep the issue alive.
Sen, Malama Solomon used a short form bill, and inserted new content into what was essentially an empty bill.
In the process, Solomon got into a heated argument with Sen. Laura Thielen who opposes gaming,
Hawaii is one of just two states with no form of legalized gambling, and over the years, there has been a push to establish a stand alone casino in Waikiki, off shore gaming, Bingo and gambling of all sorts on Hawaiian Homelands.
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