CALENDAR OF EVENTS
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SB932, Mental Health, was heard 2/8/13 at 1:35pm in a combined hearing of the Senate Health and Public Safety Committees. The bill would require mental health caregivers to report patients involuntarily hospitalized for “serious” mental illness or any patient who indicated plans to use a dangerous implement against a named person. Failure to report would be a felony. Protection of confidential patient-doctor communication and records would be abolished. Firearms would be immediately seized. A list would be kept by government, and everyone on it would be denied a firearm permit . Those on the list would have to prove they have no mental illness to get off it.
The bill was introduced by Health Chair Sen. Josh Green, a Family Practice physician himself, so Committee support for the bill was expected. Questions and comments by Public Safety (PSM) Committee Chair, Sen. Will Espero during the hearing indicated he also wanted to pass something.
There was no testimony in support and over 125 in opposition. Even the Attorney General’s representative, the Health Department, and The Department of Public Safety couldn’t say much nice about the bill. Like HRA, Mental Health of America, and much of the other testimony in opposition, they agreed the intent was good, reduce violence with dangerous implements, but the bill was unsupportable. To view the on-time testimony, go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/Testimony/SB932_TESTIMONY_HTH-PSM_02-08-13.pdf
Faced with no support, the Health Chair, Senator Green, indicated he and his colleagues intend to amend the bill to establish a working group of representatives from gun rights supporters, law enforcement, attorneys, the Department of Health, physicians, and possibly firearms dealers to make recommendations. Normally these groups meet between Legislature sessions and report back next year.
The Committee will formally announce a decision and take a vote at their hearing Tuesday, 02/11/13, 2:30PM in conference room 229. No testimony is taken. You can view the actual result when a Committee Report and a new draft of the bill with the amendments is posted online. Check the bill history page, maybe by Friday, 2/15, for a Committee Report and a SB932-SD1 (Senate Draft 1): http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=932&year=2013
Once again, good things happened for gun right supporters because many supporters from all corners of the community sent good testimony, and an impressive number showed up to sit across the conference table from their Senators to explain why this bill was so terrible.
NOW IS THE TIME TO GO PROACTIVE, (WHILE STILL MAINTAINING A GOOD DEFENSE OF OUR RIGHTS):
The Legislature goes into a mandatory 5-day recess Feb 21 through Feb 26. Neither the House or Senate convenes although hearings may be scheduled. The offices and staffs stay open to catch up, but many of the Neighbor Island Legislators take time to fly home for a few days. If you are a registered voter on any Island, (they know), please make a phone call this week to your own Senator and Representative and ask for an appointment to meet with them during the recess, or whenever, to discuss gun control, your views and theirs. Be politely insistent that this is very important to you as a constituent. Their staffs will place your message before your Representative and Senator. If you do not hear back in 2-3 days (you may well not), call back. It is understood that every Legislator is expected to represent his or her constituency, and to do so they must open their offices and their schedules to hear you. Some Neighbor Island first-year Legislators may not have a district office yet, but your Legislators should be willing to meet you in their offices or a public place like a restaurant or coffee shop for a chat. Take a friend or relative along.
Not registered to vote? There is still time. Go to http://hawaii.gov/elections/forms/voter_pab_application_english.pdf or call 808 453-VOTE or for Neighbor Islands 800 442-VOTE (8683) and ask that a copy be mailed to you.
Don’t know who your Legislators are or how to call them? Go to the Legislature home page, http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/ and click on the “Find Your Legislator” box in the upper right corner. Then go back to the home page, click on “Senate” or “House,” and then “Senators” or “Representatives” to find their web pages with all their contact information. Or call the Senate Clerk at 808 586-6720 or House Clerk, 808 586-6400.
Don’t know quite what to say? Politely expressing your personal feelings is best. HRA will have talking points on the issues on the web site http://www.hawaiirifleassociation.org/ or by request at 808 225-6944.
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