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Women’s Health, Safety Gets Hawaii State Support with New Laws

Measures that toughen the laws on violence against women, increase healthcare access, and provide more help for female veterans are among the bills signed into law today by Governor David Ige.

2016 Women's Legislative Caucus Members with Gov. Ige

2016 Women’s Legislative Caucus Members with Gov. Ige

A total of nine bills have been signed into law that were part of a package of bills submitted this session by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus (WLC).  Additionally, five resolutions were adopted by the Legislature. The Women’s Legislative Caucus is a bi-partisan organization comprised of women legislators in the House and Senate who support an agenda designed to improve the lives of women, children, and families in Hawai‘i. This year, the WLC expanded their membership to include women lawmakers at the City and County level.  The WLC co-conveners for 2016 are Senators Rosalyn H. Baker and Laura H. Thielen and Representatives Della Au Bellati and Lauren Kealohilani Matsumoto.

“I’m incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Caucus this year,” said Sen. Laura Thielen (Kailua, Waimānalo, Hawai‘i Kai). “The bills we advocated for this session address serious concerns about violence against women and healthcare and will make a difference in the lives of women and children throughout the state.”

“I’m pleased that these important measures made it to the Governor’s desk and are now law,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker (South and West Maui). “There’s much more work to be done to improve the lives of women and children here and I look forward to continuing these efforts with our colleagues in 2017. These new laws, however, demonstrate a strong commitment by our state to address health and safety concerns for women and families throughout Hawai’i.”

“By collaborating with our community partners and all of our colleagues in the Legislature, the Caucus has been successful in passing laws and policies that will improve the health and well-being of women and families throughout the State.  I am incredibly proud to be part of this bi-partisan Caucus that is committed to tackling complex and challenging problems, year after year, to find solutions that will benefit the people of Hawaii,” said Rep. Della Au Bellati (Makiki, Tantalus, McCully, Pawa‘a, Mānoa)

“The bills the Governor is signing today represents this Legislature’s continued commitment to women and addressing key issues such as sex trafficking, HIV/STD, jury duty and breastfeeding, and veterans issues statewide.  While there is still more work to be done, I am incredibly proud of the work our bi-partisan caucus has accomplished this year and I look forward to continuing our work in the next legislative session,” said Rep. Lauren Matsumoto (Schofield, Mokulē‘ia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipi‘o Acres, Mililani)

The House and Senate bills signed by the Governor today:

  • HB1902 CD1: Creates the offense of sex trafficking where a person advances prostitution by the use of force, threat, fraud, or intimidation or where a minor is prostituted.  Sex trafficking is classified as a violent crime and a class A felony.
  • HB1907 CD1: 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.  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.
  • HB 1897 CD1: Ensures that all insurers in the State provide insurance coverage for sexually transmitted disease screenings, including HIV and AIDS.
  • SB2319 CD1: Requires health insurers in the State, including health benefits plans under the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund and Medicaid managed care programs, to cover reimbursement for contraceptive supplies intended to last for up to a twelve-month period for an insured.
  • SB2317 CD1: Requires and appropriates funds for the Department of Health to conduct child death reviews, implement a program to perform maternal death reviews, and submit annual reports to the Legislature relating to child and maternal deaths and death reviews in the State.
  • HB2772 CD1: Adopts the preliminary recommendation of the affirmative consent task force including requiring the University of Hawaii to train employees and students on sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking policies.
  • HB2489 CD1: Appropriates funding for a veterans services counselor IV position within the Office of Veterans’ Services to address problems and needs of all veterans, with a primary focus on female veterans.

The following bills were signed into law earlier this session:

  • SB2315 HD2 (Act 46) which exempts from jury duty a woman who is breastfeeding for a period of two years from the birth of a child.
  • SB2310 (Act 4) provides further safeguards and protections for victims of domestic abuse by prohibiting the court from granting mutual protective orders unless separate petitions are filed and reasonable notice of the filing of a separate petition is provided.

The following resolutions were adopted by the Legislature:

  • HCR137 SD2: Requesting the Department of Education to convene a working group to review after-school programs in Hawai‘i’s public middle and intermediate schools.
  • HR89: Requesting the Department of Education to affirm its commitment to uphold the tenets of Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972.
  • SCR85 SD1: Affirming support of Planned Parenthood, recognizing its vital role in providing health care, and denouncing violence towards abortion providers and their patients.
  • SR56 SD1: Affirming support of Planned Parenthood, recognizing its vital role in providing health care, and denouncing violence towards abortion providers and their patients.
  • SR57 SD1: Requesting the convening of a paid Family Leave Task Force to examine the benefits and costs of a potential paid family leave program in Hawai‘i.

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