10 Interesting New Proposals Approved by Hawai‘i State Lawmakers That May Affect You

Legislative proposals include social media privacy at work, a latex glove ban and an interisland ferry study. 

Hawai‘i state lawmakers closed the 2016 legislative session on May 5, after approving almost 300 new legislative proposals on a wide range of topics, including agriculture, crime, transportation, affordable housing and homelessness. 


Gov. David Ige has until July 12 to sign or veto legislation, otherwise these proposals will become law without his signature. We sifted through the list to bring you the 10 most interesting proposals state lawmakers approved this session. 


1. Interisland Ferry Study 

Hawaii Superferry

Could the Hawai‘i Superferry make a comeback? Hawai‘i state lawmakers approved a feasibility study to explore the option. The proposal requires the state Department of Transportation to conduct a study on whether successful ferry systems, such as those in Washington state and Alaska, could be used as a model for Hawai‘i. If Gov. David Ige signs the measure into law, the study is scheduled to be completed 20 days before the start of the regular legislative session in 2017. And, in case you’re wondering, one of the former Hawai‘i Superferry ships is currently in action as USNS Puerto Rico, traveling between Maine and Nova Scotia. 

Status of SB2618 SD1 HD2 CD1Sent to the governor on May 9.


2. Social Media Sharing of Marked Ballots 

If this measure becomes law, you might start seeing more ballot selfies on your Facebook feed when the November elections roll around. State lawmakers approved repealing the existing ban forbidding voters from sharing their marked ballots online, allowing voters to share electronic or digital photos of their own completed ballots on social media or other means.

Status of HB27 SD1: Sent to the governor on April 26.  


3. Social Media Privacy at Work 

Photo: Thinkstock 

Don’t think it’s pono for your supervisor to access your personal Facebook account at work? State lawmakers agree: Personal social media accounts should stay private at the office. State lawmakers approved amending the state law to prohibit employers from requiring, requesting or coercing current or potential employees from giving access to their personal social media accounts. The violating employer will be slapped with a fine costing between $25 and $100. The rule will go into effect immediately if the governor signs it into state law. 

Status of HB1739 HD2 SD1 CD1Sent to the governor on May 5. 


4. Latex Gloves Ban 

Should restaurants, doctors and dentists stop using latex gloves? State lawmakers believe so. They approved amending the state law to ban the use of latex gloves at restaurants, hospitals, or in ambulance and emergency medical services due to concerns of severe allergic reactions. There’s an exception, though: Doctors and dentists may use latex gloves as long as the conscious patient can physically communicate they are not allergic to latex. 

Status of SB911 SD2 HD2 CD1: Sent to the governor on May 9. 


5. The World Conservation Congress Conference

More than 8,000 delegates from the International Union for Conservation of Nature are expected to meet at the World Conservation Congress held at the Hawai‘i Convention Center from Sept. 1–10. The group meets once every four years and this year’s Honolulu conference will be the first time the Congress has convened in the U.S. State lawmakers approved appropriating the sum of $4 million for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to host the meeting in town. 

Status of HB2037 HD1 SD2 CD1: Sent to the governor on May 5. 


6. Insurance Coverage of Health Screenings 

Hawai‘i state lawmakers approved amending the state law that would make it easier for patients to receive annual health screenings for sexually transmitted diseases. The plan would ensure that all insurers in the state provide insurance coverage for screenings of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS. If the proposal is signed into law by the governor, it would take effect on July 1 and apply to all health insurance policies, contracts and plans issued or renewed after Jan. 1, 2018.

Status of HB1897 HD1 SD1 CD1Sent to the governor on May 5.


7. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death 


A deadly fungus is threatening to wipe out the native ‘ōhi‘a tree, and state lawmakers want to stop the plague from spreading. A recent survey by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources indicates 34,000 acres of ‘ōhi‘a forest are affected by the disease. State lawmakers approved appropriating $300,000 during the fiscal year 2016–2017 for research to combat rapid ‘ōhi‘a death.

Status of HB2675 HD1 SD2 CD1Sent to the governor May 5. 


8. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Campus Safety Training 

If you’re a student or employee at the University of Hawai‘i, this new proposal will require the school to train you on campus safety. That includes lessons on dating violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault and stalking policies. Under the proposal, each campus in the system will designate a confidential advocate for its students. The university will also be required to conduct a campus climate survey and submit the report to the state Legislature by March 31, 2017, and once every two years thereafter. 

Status of HB2772 HD1 SD2 CD1: Sent to the governor on May 5. 


9. Firearms Disqualification for Mental Illness 

Photo: Thinkstock 

The Hawai‘i State Legislature approved amending the state law to make it easier for law enforcement to keep firearms out of the hands of people with mental illness. Under current law, the disqualified firearm owner is notified by certified mail to surrender his or her firearm. The owner has 30 days to volunteer to surrender or transfer the gun. The new proposal would let the chief of police immediately seize firearms and ammunition from disqualified gun owners who fail to surrender after receiving a written disqualification notice.

Status of HB2632 HD2 SD2 CD1Sent to the governor on May 5. 


10. Trafficking Endangered Species or Products 

Illegal wildlife trader, beware. The Hawai‘i State Legislature approved amending the state law to discourage illegal animal trafficking for profit. State lawmakers approved imposing penalties for those violating the ban on trafficking the following animal parts or products: 

  • Elephant (Elephantidae)

  • Rhinoceros (Rhinocerotidae)

  • Tiger (Panthera tigris)

  • Great ape (Hominoidea)

  • Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

  • Lion (Panthera leo)

  • Pangolin (Manis)

  • Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) 

  • Jaguar (Panthera onca)

  • Leopard (Panthera pardus).

The proposal bans the barter, sale, purchase, trade or possession with intent to sell any part or product from the animal parts or products mentioned above. There are exceptions to the rule, including traditional cultural practices protected under the state Constitution. 

Status of SB2647 SD1 HD2: Sent to governor on May 10.