HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. Josh Green M.D. signed two bills into law today. One codifies county prosecutors’ ability to initiate felony prosecutions; one strengthens safeguards to protect the right to privacy and access to healthcare for pregnant persons.
Senate Bill 36 is a law that amends current State law in order to provide allowances for county prosecutors to initiate felony prosecutions.
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The law explicitly amends their ability to initiate those cases by complaints following preliminary hearings. It also prohibits the move to make multiple attempts to initiate felony prosecutions for offenses, except in specific circumstances.
“The people of Hawai‘i want to feel safe in their homes and communities and have every right to expect government leaders to provide public safety. This legislation is a tool that will help our law enforcement officers and county prosecutors continue their work toward that goal,” said Gov. Green upon signing SB36 which became Act 1.
The amendment to HRS Section 801-1 tackles issues that have arisen since the Hawai’i Supreme Court made its decision in State v. Obrero. In this decision, the Supreme Court ruled that HRS 801-1 “did not permit initiation of felony criminal charges via preliminary hearing”.
According to Gov. Green’s office, the ruling came despite precedent that was set with over 40 years of actively using the process.
SB36 limits the number of attempts to one that the prosecution can implement to charge a felony case via grand jury indictment or complaint unless certain conditions are met by the prosecution.
This includes presentation of additional material evidence, there is evidence of misconduct by the grand jury or grand jury counsel or if a court finds good cause to allow another attempt.
Senate Bill 1 safeguards and advances Hawaiʻi’s civil rights which has a long history of being at the forefront of protecting the rights of Hawai’i citizens.
This new law expands access to reproductive health care services in numerous ways.
It clarifies that the state will not deny or interfere with a pregnant person’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy and protects Hawai‘i health care providers from punitive legal action from within or outside of the State relating to the provision of legally provided reproductive health care services.
“This is one of the most important issues of our time; and as Hawai‘i’s physician-governor, I tell you absolutely that this goes beyond a complex social issue for political discussion. This is 100% about fundamental, practical health care for our people,” Gov. Green said as his signature codified SB1 to become Act 2.
Hawaiʻi has a long history of advancing the rights of those oppressed and marginalized. In 1950, Hawaiʻi implemented Article I § 5 in the State’s constitution. It guarantees that ”[n]o person . . . shall be denied the enjoyment of the person’s civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex or ancestry.”
Hawaiʻi was also the first state in the U.S. to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. This Constitutional Amendment has yet to be fully ratified by two-thirds of U.S. states despite the fact that it has been 100 years since it was first proposed in 1923.
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And, Hawaiʻi led the charge in 1990 to guarantee universal freedom for marriage, ensuring that same-sex couples are not discriminated against.