HAWAII STATE CAPITOL Photo: Emily Metcalf
HAWAII STATE CAPITOL Photo: Emily Metcalf

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE LEGISLATURE?

This notice is to give you a birdseye view of the issues that have come up during this legislative session.  We are now moving into the time period where we will be sending out alerts on the issues so we thought we should at least give you an overview of what has been happening since session opened on January 16th.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE

As many of you are already very aware, the issue of same-sex marriage has taken the forefront in many news stories recently.  Leaders, including Governor Abercrombie and Mayor Caldwell, have come out strongly in support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii.  We have been receiving so many phone calls from people who believe that this issue was settled in 1998 and they can’t believe that the legislature is trying to pass it.

Today, around 150 people gathered at the capitol to demand what they are calling “marriage equality” (another name for redefining marriage.)  Tomorrow, (February 12, 2013) they plan to visit the capitol all day.  The timing is critical because if nothing happens by Wednesday, than the issue will be off the table for this legislative session.  That’s why the push is happening so strongly all of a sudden.

Right now there is no bill scheduled for hearing; however, if you stay silent, that could change.

Visit this link if you would like to send a message to your own Representative asking them not the pass same-sex marriage in Hawaii.  Our system will allow you to make contact directly with your own Representative, even if you don’t know who they are.

We also encourage you to call them and make personal visits if you have the time.  Please forward this email to your friends and family and ask them to do the same.


LEGALIZED GAMBLING

There is a move that began today (in the Senate) to push through bills that would legalize gambling in Hawaii.  These problematic bills include a stand-alone casino (SB 769)shipboard gambling (SB 767)internet gambling (SB 768), and a proposed study for a state lottery (SB 766).

Some Senators want to hear these problematic bills in committee within the next two days.  They scheduled them for a hearing and them removed them from the hearing notice.  Don’t let that fool you!  We are hearing that they are trying to get the bills heard in committee(s) that are amenable to gambling…

If you don’t want all the societal problems that come with gambling to be part of our islands, thencontact your Senator and encourage them NOT to schedule the bills for hearing.

We ask that you be prepared to receive a notice as early as tomorrow about when the hearing will be and in what committee(s).  If and when you receive that notice, please take a moment to take action.


EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVES

(HB 411 Relating to HOSPITAL EMERGENCY COMPASSIONATE CARE FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS.)
(SB 1109 Relating to HOSPITAL STANDARDS FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS)

This issue has raised its ugly head every year for the past several years.  The issue in the past was the effort to force St. Francis Hospital to provide emergency contraceptives in its emergency rooms.  As many of you are already aware, the Catholic Church believes that the emergency contraceptives can act as an abortificient.  The FDA required warnings on the medication say the same thing.  The bill died in the past because opponents were able to successfully argue that the government should not be allowed to force a religious institution to act contrary to its religious tenets.

Although St. Francis no longer owns the land under the hospital, they sold the property to Queens with the understanding that they would not act contrary to Catholic Religious and Ethical Directives.  However, proponents strongly disagree.

There is a strong effort to pass this bill.  If it is passed without a religious exemption or conscience protection, any religious individual who works in any emergency room will not be able to opt out.

The bill overwhelmingly passed the House Health Committee and is now moving to the House Judiciary Committee.  When the bill comes up for hearing, we will notify you.  If any of you have a medical and/or legal background and would like to help us on this issue, contact us.


BIRTH CERTIFICATE BILL
(HB 412 Relating to Birth Certificates)

In Hawaii, if someone who has sex change surgery wants to get a new birth certificate issued with their new gender, they are allowed to do so; however, it is marked as “amended.”

The language in this bill changes the legal requirement of having a sex change operation and says that instead of the operation, a person who takes hormone therapy or any therapy their doctor deems appropriate for them, can change their birth certificate and it will NOT SHOW AS AMENDED.

We want to make it clear that we do not oppose someone changing their birth certificate.  What we are opposing is the fact that it puts pastors in a difficult position of having a vital record presented to them that is neither accurate nor historically factual.

This bill passed the House Health Committee and is now headed to the House Judiciary Committee.

If you have a legal background and would like to help us on this issue, please contact us.


LEGALIZED RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA USE
(HB 699 Relating to Marijuana)

Yes, you read that right.  There is a move in the legislature to legalize marijuana for personal use.  The description of this bill states that the bill “Authorizes persons 21 years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. Provides for the licensing of marijuana cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, safety testing facilities, and retail stores. Applies an excise tax on transactions between marijuana establishments.”

The bill was heard in the House Judiciary committee and decision making will be tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.  The bill, if it passes Judiciary will move to the House Finance Committee.

Interesting that a bill that supposedly will enhance tourism was not scheduled to be heard in the Tourism committee nor was it heard by the House Health Committee.

We strongly oppose this bill and will be sending out an alert once we receive word of a hearing.

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