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    April 2016
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Hawaii House Passes Bills on Social Media Sharing of Marked Ballots, Firearms Possession and Gender Based Discrimination

The full House today passed three measures relating to: the sharing of digital images of a voter’s marked ballot, possession of firearms by individuals who have misdemeanor convictions of stalking or sexual assault, and discrimination based on gender identity. Capital

HB27 SD1, allows a voter to distribute or share an electronic or digital image of the voter’s own marked ballot via social media or other means. The intent of the measure is to repeal the prohibition against willfully exhibiting one’s own ballot at polling places during an election.  The prohibitions originally related to the operation of polling places, where it was meant to prevent voters from declaring how they voted in order to encourage others to vote in the same way.

The prevalence of electronic mobile devices and social media applications and platforms increases the opportunities for people to display their ballots via social media, which are commonly known as “ballot selfies.”  This measure clarifies that voters may exhibit their own ballots, which includes the dissemination of ballot images electronically or digitally.

HB625 HD1, SD1 prohibits a person from legally owning, possessing, or controlling any firearm or ammunition, if he or she was convicted of misdemeanor stalking or sexual assault.  The Honolulu Police Department, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Domestic Violence Action Center, Center for American Progress, BradyHawaii, IMUAlliance, and others testified in support of this measure.

Supporters noted that actions such as stalking and misdemeanor sexual assault are precursors to more extreme acts of domestic violence and that precautions are necessary to prevent individuals convicted of these offenses from accessing firearms.  Disqualification from firearms ownership for a misdemeanor offense requires a conviction, unlike disqualification for a felony offense which only requires an indictment.

HB2084 HD2, SD1 prohibits all insurers in the state, including health insurers, mutual benefit societies, health maintenance organizations, and health benefits plans under chapter 87A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, from discriminating against any person on the basis of a person’s actual gender identity or perceived gender identity.

The bill was initiated in response to the fact that many health insurance plans and policies include some form of transgender-specific exclusions.  As a result, transgender individuals may be excluded from healthcare coverage based on actual gender identity or perceived gender identity, rather than because of lack of medical necessity of treatment.  In addition, these exclusions may also prevent transgender individuals from obtaining common wellness care treatment.

The three bills, which were amended by the Senate, now go to the Governor for his review along with 13 other bills passed today.

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