Public Policy

The 2016 Hawai'i State Legislative Session

During the 2016 legislative session, the Sex Abuse Treatment Center (SATC) tracked over one hundred bills and resolutions relating directly or indirectly to sexual violence in a number of areas of the law, including Hawai'i's penal code, public safety, family courts and victims' rights.

Hawai'i lawmakers passed three bills supported by SATC this session that are particularly important for survivors of sexual violence.

Act 207 (House Bill 1907), which was signed into law on July 5, 2016, requires all law enforcement agencies and departments charged with maintenance, storage and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits to conduct an inventory of all stored kits and report to the Attorney General, and further requires the Department of the Attorney General to report to the Legislature on the number of untested sexual assault evidence collection kits being stored, plans and procedures for the disposition of new and untested kits, and related information, and makes an appropriation for the purpose of initiating testing of at least 500 kits by the end of 2016.

Act 231 (House Bill 2561), which became law on July 11, 2016, enacts recommendations of the Penal Code Review Committee convened pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution 155 (2015), including the removal of an exemption for married persons whose sexual contact by strong compulsion with their spouse would, but for the exemption, be considered sexual assault.

Act 213 (Senate Bill 2811), which was signed into law on June 6, 2016, provides that parental rights may be terminated if the court determines, by clear and convincing evidence, that the child was conceived as a result of a sexual assault, and creates a presumption that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child if the child was conceived as a result of the sexual assault.

These measures contribute substantively to improve our state's response to sexual violence, by allowing the development and implementation of additional resources to better help survivors, their families and their communities throughout the islands, and by updating the laws of our state to better reflect a current understanding of sexual violence and how it should be addressed.

A number of other measures related to sexual violence that SATC supported and that passed are also noteworthy. These include Act 209 (House Bill 2489) which provides funds for a veterans' services counselor within the Hawai'i State Department of Defense's Office of Veterans' Services; Act 206 (House Bill 1902) which updates Hawaii's laws regarding sex trafficking; and Act 625 (House Bill 625) which specifies that harassment by stalking and sexual assault are among the offenses that disqualify a person from owning, possessing or controlling firearms or ammunition.

 

If you would like additional information regarding this legislative session or the SATC's public policy advocacy, please contact Justin Murakami, Policy Research Associate, at (808) 535-7600 or justin.murakami@kapiolani.org.