House Bill 426, repealing the limited civil immunity for NRA Instructors, died in the House Judiciary Committee (JUD) yesterday.
The bill, introduced on behalf of the personal injury lawyers in the State by Rep. Scott Saiki ( McCully, Kaheka, Kakaako, Downtown), a personal injury lawyer himself, was given a public hearing yesterday afternoon. Over 360 pieces of testimony were received against the bill. Only one person testified in favor, the representative of the personal injury lawyer's association. 360/1 is unheard of. Dozens of gun rights supporters took off time from work, braved the traffic and parking, and met their Representatives across the conference table to testify in person in opposition during the two-hour hearing on the bill.
JUD Chair, F-rated Karl Rhoads (Kalihi, Palama, Iwilei, Chinatown), still recommended passage of the bill with 3 separate amendments, in spite of the overwhelming testimony against the bill, the fact that the very limited immunity provided Instructors only passed last year, and the manner in which the referral went straight to the JUD Committee only. Normal procedure was subverted by House Leadership liberal dissidents, bypassing the Public Safety Committee, and leaving only one chance to kill the bill in the House.
When JUD Chair Rhoads announced his recommendation to pass the bill to the rest of the Committee there was strong opposition voiced from Vice Chair Sharon Har, and Members Ken Ito, Clift Tsugi, CynthiaThielen, and Bob McDermott. Then the role call vote was taken:
Chair Rep. Karl Rhoads... aye
Vice Chair Rep. Sharon Har... no
Rep. Della Au Belatti...aye, with reservations (expresses some concerns, but still a yes)
Rep. Tom Brower...aye, with reservations
Rep. Rida Cabanilla...excused
Rep. Mele Carroll...excused
Rep. Ken Ito...no
Rep. Derek Kawakami...no
Rep. Chris Lee...aye
Rep. Clift Tsuji...no
Rep. Jessica Wooley...aye
Rep. Bob McDermott...no
Rep. Cynthia Thielen...no
5 ayes, 6 no's
Vice Chair Har announced the bill failed, overriding the Chair's recommendation, a very rare occurrence in the Hawaii State Legislature.
There is no similar bill in the Senate, so, barring resuscitation efforts using legislative manipulation, HB 426 is dead for the year.
We won because of very supportive Legislators on the committee, especially Reps. Ken Ito and Sharon Har, and all of the committee members who voted no. A big MAHALO to them all and their staffs!
And we won because hundreds of men and women, from all corners of the of the firearms community, joined together, stood up for their rights, and supported proper gun safety instruction without fear of unwarranted lawsuits. Give yourself a big Mahalo!
Adjournment of the Legislature May 3, 2013 is a long way off, with many terrible bills left to deal with this year, but this is a very good start, and a strong message to the Legislature.
Dr. Max Cooper
HRA Legislative Liaison