CAP Presentation at Public Health Conference

From Kat:

I hope this finds you well and happy this Monday, Indigenous People Day!

Last Friday, I was part of a panel at the Public Health Association Conference. I was researching for three weeks to prepare a presentation.  Our panel at the conference was interesting as it focused on incarceration, immigration, homelessness, something called “epigenetics”, Hawaiian culture, and domestic violence. Below is my research presentation.

Addressing Health DIsparities within a Health-in-All-Framwork_A Panel Discussion

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs died last Sunday. She was/is an inspiration to everyone who believes  we can create a better world. There is a film, AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY – The evimgres-1olution of Grace Lee Boggs, that was shown at last year’s film festival.  The film followed her as she walked through a desolate section of Detroit and said, “I feel sorry for people who don’t live in Detroit!” She spoke about the rebirth of Detroit. She walked a little further to  a section with burned out factories and she turned to the camera and said, “This is how giants fall!” Here optimism in the face of adversity has been an inspiration to me.

Here is a beautiful tribute from yes! magazine followed by a Postcript from the New Yorker. This was an extraordinary woman, similar to our own Ah Quan McElrath. We are all fortunate that these teachers have forged the path for us.

Remembering Grace Lee Boggs and the Revolution She Inspired in Us
YES! has put together a tribute page to honor Grace Lee Boggs and the lives she touched while she was with us. Share your own thoughts with #RememberingGrace.
YES!Staff, YES! Magazine, Oct. 8, 2015

Editor’s note: We at YES! were saddened to learn that our dear friend and long-time collaborator Grace Lee Boggs passed away on Monday. Here, we offer some remembrances, both from our staff as well as from others who knew and loved her. We invite you share your own thoughts in the comment section below, or on social media with #RememberingGrace.


Postscript: Grace Lee Boggs
Thomas J. Sugrue, The New Yorker, Oct. 8, 2015

“For most of her remarkable one hundred years, Grace Lee Boggs saw herself as a revolutionary, and her adopted home town of Detroit as the Midwestern front of that revolution. Despite the frustrations of living in a counterrevolutionary time, and in a city that suffered a lot of setbacks and precious few victories, she never lost her optimism about the possibility of change, even as she began to drop the “r” from revolution.”


Grace Lee Boggs, Human Rights Advocate for 7 Decades, Dies at 100
Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times, Oct. 5, 2015


A Cautionary Tale For Hawai`i Nei…

Today’s post is a single story that serves as a cautionary tale for Hawai`i’s short-sighted prison building plan….

Millions of dollars wasted on nearly empty prisons built twice as large as planned, watchdog say
Lisa Rein, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2015

“Two brand new tribal jails built by the Navajo Nation in Arizona and paid for by the federal government are sitting almost empty because they’re more than twice as large as planned — and now there’s not enough money to run them.”

This brings to mind the quote from Field of Dreams…If you build it, they will come. The real question is:  Why is Hawai`i so intent on building a criminal underclass when we have alternatives at hand to reduce the population????


Prison Conditions

Today’s post is all about prison conditions.

The articles are about the rampant abuse in the system that has been largely ignored.

  • Judge Allows Class-Action Suit Over Mississippi Prison Conditions
  • Heat takes toll on prison inmates
  • What Happens When Inmates in Solitary Confinement Blow the Whistle on Their Abuse

The last article is by former NY Governor and AG Eliot Spitzer on How to Deal with Prison Brutality.

Judge Allows Class-Action Suit Over Mississippi Prison Conditions
Timothy Williams, NY Times, Oct. 1, 2015

“Inmates at a privately run Mississippi prison where, they say, guards arranged for prisoners to attack one another, ignored fires set by inmates to signal distress, and allowed prisoners to trade whiskey and cellphones will be permitted to file a class-action lawsuit against the facility, a federal court judge ruled this week.

“The judge, William H. Barbour Jr., granted the request by inmates at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian on Tuesday in their lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

“Judge Barbour wrote in his opinion that there was sufficient evidence that the prison had failed to appropriately address complaints that inmates were being denied ‘adequate food, shelter, medical and mental health care, and safety.'”


Heat takes toll on prison inmates
Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union Tribune, Oct. 5, 2015

“There’s no easy in hard time.

“Prison is supposed to be unpleasant and uncomfortable, a deterrent for people who veer from the straight and narrow. But when temperatures rise across San Diego County, as they have at record highs this year, the heat climbs even higher inside the concrete cells at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.


“’It’s 94 degrees inside my cell at 12 o’clock at night and there is no ventilation going in or out of these cells,’ said William Nible, 57, who was handed a life sentence on his third strike when he was arrested a few years ago for resisting arrest. ‘You don’t sleep at night. You’re irritable. There’s always the potential for violence because of that.'”


What Happens When Inmates in Solitary Confinement Blow the Whistle on Their Abuse?
Molly Crabapple, VICE Magazine, Oct. 5, 2015

“On April 28, 2010, in the Restricted Housing Unit of Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution at Dallas, Carrington Keys heard his friend Isaac Sanchez scream. Like Sanchez, Keys had spent years locked in the “hole.” It had been years since he’d hugged his mom. Years confined to a filthy box, drinking rust-brown water, enduring beatings by guards. Years beneath a fluorescent light that never went off, freezing in winter, smothering in summer’s heat, the sole window to a bare hallway covered with Plexiglas. Years in which each day dragged the same as the last, their monotony punctuated only by explosions of violence.”


How to Deal with Prison Brutality
It’s time to take these cases away from local prosecutors.
Eliot Spitzer, The Marshall Project, Oct. 5, 2015


“With almost metronomic regularity, investigative reports have shed light on a lawlessness that seems to pervade the prisons of New York. From Rikers to Attica, Clinton to Ulster and Fishkill, well documented and widespread reports of abuse by corrections officers have been detailed in a manner that evokes images of an era we thought long gone. And just as troubling, these instances of reported abuse are met with only marginal inquiry and minimal prosecution from authorities who appear all too comfortable being merely passive observers.


“This is a moment when prosecutorial choices and police behavior on the street are properly garnering much attention; perhaps it is time we also extend that scrutiny to a venue too often shielded from the public eye – our prisons.”


Mahalo for remembering all our brothers and sisters serving sentences near and far. Please send some aloha their way … and also their loved ones … they need your support.




Report: “Gender Injustice”

Today’s post will focus on a new report entitled GENDER INJUSTICE about how girls get caught in the juvenile justice system. Hawai`i’s adult incarcerated women are about 12% of the incarcerated population.  We need to pay attention to and stop the flow of the youth to adult prison pipeline.

We must all be concerned with the inequality in our justice system. Please speak out in support of appropriate sentencing that is proportionate to the offense. We cannot afford to continue creating a criminal underclass.

The Prominence and Plight Of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System
Girls, many of whom have suffered a range of trauma at home, make up a growing share of children arrested and detained across the country.
Joe Sexton, ProPublica, Oct. 2, 2015


“But a recent report by researchers has highlighted what they call a disturbing trend: the prominence and plight of girls in the juvenile justice system.

“In 1992, according to the report, Gender Injustice, girls made up 20 percent of the children arrested in the U.S. In 2012, girls accounted for 29 percent of children arrested, a near 50 percent increase. The percentage of girls in the population of children sent to formal detention facilities grew similarly over those years.

“The authors of the report, Francine Sherman, a professor at Boston College Law School, and Annie Balck, a lawyer formerly with the Children’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., explain the trend by citing the unintended consequences of a crackdown on domestic violence as well as the failures of reform efforts to address the specific needs of girls.

“Girls in the juvenile justice system, they argue, are far more likely to have suffered a range of trauma at home before they wind up arrested. Indeed, girls are 4.4 times more likely than boys to have been sexually abused prior to their brushes with the law.”

The Report:

GENDER INJUSTICE   System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls

Francine T. Sherman and Annie Balck, 2015
In partnership with: The Crittenton Foundation and National Women’s Law Center

Full Report here

Executive Summary here


“Every day in the U.S., abused and traumatized girls enter and are pushed through the justice system. Despite decades of attention, the proportion of girls in the juvenile justice system has increased and their challenges have remained remarkably consistent, resulting in deeply rooted, systemic gender injustice. Even in the midst of the current “developmental era” of reform, juvenile justice systems are routinely failing to modify promising system reforms for girls or even to collect data on how girls are affected by the problems systems seek to remedy.

“Despite overall declining juvenile arrest rates, in the last two decades, girls’ share of the juvenile justice system increased at all stages of the juvenile justice process:

  • Arrests increased 45 percent (from 20 to 29 percent);
  • Court caseload increased 40 percent (from 20 to 28 percent);
  • Detentions increased 40 percent (from 15 to 21 percent);
  • Post-adjudication probation increased 44 percent (from 16 to 23 percent); and
  • Post-adjudication placement increased 42 percent (from 12 to 17 percent).

“The traumatic and unhealthy social environments in which many girls live result in behaviors that are criminalized or are mishandled by other systems, resulting in girls’ entry into the juvenile justice system. Once girls are there, misguided processes pull them deeper into a system that is not built to help, heal, or respond to girls’ developmental needs, and often actually worsens girls’ situations.”


Update on what CAP’s been working on

Sorry that our posts have been sketchy lately. Life has been amazingly busy. Just a sample of what CAP has been working on:

  • Keynote Speech at 2015 Social Advocacy Conference – 9.23
  • Ongoing review of Penal Code’s Chapter 706 – full meetings and subcommittee meetings
  • Preparing for October 9th Panel at UH Medical School on Health Impacts regarding incarcerated persons returning to committee
  • Preparing remarks for sermon at Church of the Crossroads on 11.22
  • Researching/bill drafting for 2016 session

So life has been a little crazy, but incredibly interesting.  Our work is really to bring the message of overcriminalization to as many communities as possible and gain more allies in different sectors of the community.

This is why we need oversight of correctional facilities

Today’s post is about prison conditions/prisoner abuse and why we need community oversight of correctional facilities. We start off with a very disturbing story from Santa Clara, California about 3 deputies who beat a person to death who was awaiting a slot in a treatment program. The next item is about why prisoner abuse is so common and overlooked and the last item is about phone calls from prison.

3 Santa Clara County deputies arrested in mentally ill inmate’s beating death
Three jail deputies were arrested Thursday on suspicion of murder in the beating death of a mentally ill inmate in Santa Clara County — an act that Sheriff Laurie Smith described as “heinous and cowardly.”


Prison Guard ‘Beat Up’ Squad Accused of Killing Inmate: Why Prison Abuse Is So Common and Overlooked
America is the only democracy in the world that doesn’t have independent oversight of prisons.
Terrell Jermaine Starr, Sept. 3, 2015, AlterNet

“Samuel Harrell’s death at the hands of a group of correctional officers at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon N.Y. known as the ‘beat-up squad’ is a tragic, but all too common instance of abuse taking place in America’s correctional facilities.


“According to the ACLU, America is the only democracy in the world that doesn’t have independent oversight of its prisons. While it is not uncommon for the Department of Justice to enforce oversight of a police department, it is rare for such intervention to take place at a prison or jail. In a rare case, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department just agreed to federal oversight of its jails after several of its deputies were convicted of abusing inmates.”


A Phone Call From Jail? Better Watch What You Say
A confession, a threat—it’s probably taped. And admissible.
Ken Armstrong, Sept. 4, 2015 The Marshall Project
“Although people do things against their own interest all the time, even the police can be amazed. Moe Greenberg, a Baltimore County police detective, is the author of Detective’s Notebook, an advice column for fellow investigators. One time he wrote: ‘Most facilities that record inmate’s calls or visitations play a preliminary recorded message informing the inmate that their call or visitation will be recorded. One would think that this would eliminate any references to criminal acts, actions, knowledge, or involvement. Despite this very clear warning to the inmate, they still talk!'”


States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions. -Noam Chomsky



CAPWatch Conference Update 5.1.15

Conference Committee – Day 7 – Friday, May 1, 2015




Senate: Keith-Agaran (Chair); Espero, Harimoto (Co-Chairs);Dela Cruz, Slom

House: Takayama, Rhoads, Johanson (Co-Chairs); Woodson, Tupola





Senate: Tokuda (Chair); Espero, Riviere, Ruderman, Slom

House: Johanson (Chair); Kobayashi, Pouha




4.14.15 PASSED 3rd Reading – 23-2 Ayes w/ reservations: Espero, Harimoto, Riviere . Noes, 2 Kouchi, Slom           

House: Belatti, Rhoads, Luke (Co-Chairs); Sanbuenaventura, Takayama, Fukumoto-Chang

Senate: Green (Chair); Espero, Keith-Agaran, Tokuda (Co-Chairs);  Gabbard

The committee will reconvene on Monday, May 4th at noon in Room 229. Here’s the link to the hearing notice:

Since leadership in both chambers has stepped in, something will emerge. Our hope is always is that puts patients first.


The following bills did not make it this session:


4.10.15 PASSED 3rd Reading – UNANIMOUS

Senate: Green (Chair); Chun-Oakland,Inouye (Co-Chair); Gabbard, Slom

House: Belatti, Kobayashi (Co-Chairs); Jordan, Fukumoto-Chang

This bill needed clearance from the money committees but that did not happen so the bill is dead this session. As with all bills that are “deferred” it is alive for next session and starts where it  left off this session. In other words, this bill will start the 2016 session in conference committee – no more hearings.


HB 148 HD2 SD1                  WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT

4.10.15 PASSED 3rd Reading – UNANIMOUS Aye w/reservations: Thielen

House: Rhoads, DeCoite (Co-Chairs); Sanbuenaventura, McDermott

Senate: Keith-Agaran (Chair); Tokuda (Co-Chair), Riviere, Shimabukuro, Thielen

This bill needed clearance from the money committees but that did not happen so the bill is dead this session. As with all bills that are “deferred” it is alive for next session and starts where it left off this session. In other words, this bill will start the 2016 session in conference committee – no more hearings.


SB 737 SD1 HD1         LIMITING INTEREST ON PAYDAY LOANS                                                                                       

PASSED 3rd Reading – UNANIMOUS   Ayes w/ reservations: DeCoite, Har, Kawakami, Keohokalole, LoPresti, Lowen, Matsumoto, Oshiro, Pouha, Rhoads, San Buenaventura, Tokioka, Ward

Senate: Baker (Chair); Kidani, Taniguchi

House: Woodson, Nishimoto (Co-Chairs); Brower, McDermott

The Senate held firm to the 36% cap (the advocate position) and the House would not agree. My prior post has the story from Civil Beat on the blow up at the final conference committee.


This was supposed to be it.  Now that the HB 321 conference committee is reconvening on Monday, there is still one more bill that we helped pass that looks like it will make it to the Final vote.

So far we are doing well.

  • We helped 16 bills pass;
  • 2 have already been signed into law as Act 15 (SB 564 – Reentry Commission) and Act 16 (Data Collection re Children of Incarcerated Parents);
  • 11 or 12 bills went to conference (1 was SB 682 the companion bill to HB 321);
  • 7 bills passed conference (and we’re not done yet) – SB 982; SB 211; SB 569; SB 1291; HB 631; SB 213; SB 555


It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Nelson Mandela


CAPWatch Conference Update – Day 7 – Last Conference Day Drama

Day 7 – Last Conference Day Drama

CAPWATCHI will send out the update of the bills after this, but I have to share a little background and then what happened last night at the legislature. In a nutshell, the majority of both the House and Senate want to see a statewide dispensary system. Conference committee has been a battle with both sides holding firm on the selection process. The House made several concessions to the Senate and still  no movement. On Thursday, both Senate and House leadership (Senate President Donna Kim and House Majority Leader Scott Saiki) started showing up at conference. Then,  on Friday, the Speaker attended. At the 4th conference committee meeting of the day on HB 321 (5:15 pm), Senate Chair Josh Green held firm on the first come, first served approach to applications for dispensaries. The House held firm to their merit-based selection process. When it was obvious that no agreement would be reached, House Chair Belatti deferred the bill (dead for this session but still alive in 2016), banged the gavel, and the meeting was adjourned (to a stunned audience). Then, hours later, something amazing happened – Green was removed from the committee, Espero became Chair and Ihara and Gabbard became new members! At one this morning, a press release came out saying that the conference committee would be reconvening onMONDAY AT NOON IN ROOM 229. Here’s the link to the notice followed by the story in Civil Beat.


Hawaii Legislature Resurrects Bill to Establish Marijuana Dispensaries

A Senate panel will reconvene Monday to consider the bill after Senate leadership kicked Sen. Josh Green off the conference committee.


Hawaii lawmakers are looking to revive a bill to establish a medical marijuana dispensary system after conference committee negotiations collapsed Friday.

Update A conference committee made up of Senate and House negotiators plans to reconvene Monday at noon to consider House Bill 321, according to a Senate press release emailed at 1:21 a.m. Saturday.

After Sen. Josh Green refused to agree to a House draft of the bill, Senate leaders kicked him off of the panel and made Sen. Will Espero the new chair.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and House Speaker Joseph Souki sent a letter to all lawmakers Friday evening saying they decided to grant a waiver of negotiation and filing deadlines for the bill.

The deadline for completing negotiations was supposed to be 6 p.m. Friday. But under the waiver, the conference committee can meet between noon and 2 p.m. on Monday, with a conference committee report due by 5 p.m. that day.

The rule waiver comes after HB 321 had apparently died Friday when Green and Rep. Della Au Belatti couldn’t agree on the application process for potential dispensary owners.

Green rejected Belatti’s final draft of the bill, contending that it would invite organized crime into Hawaii. Belatti held her ground, saying that she was representing the view of House leadership.

A notice posted late Friday on the Legislature’s website revealed that Green had been discharged from the committee and Sen. Les Ihara was added to it. Espero, a big proponent of the bill and head of the Senate Public Safety Committee, took Green’s place as the lead negotiator.

Kim announced Friday night that the Senate might agree to the final draft presented by Belatti. In that version, Belatti capitulated to many of Green’s concerns about the structure of the dispensary system but not his preference for a first-come, first-served application process.

The late developments came as a relief to Rafael Kennedy, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, who has been lobbying hard to pass the bill this year.

“We’re excited that there may still be an opportunity for this bill to be passed and get patients the access to medicine that they desperately need,” Kennedy said.

How the Bill Fell Apart

Kennedy began the week expecting approval, given the bill’s broad support in both the House and Senate. Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for 15 years and there’s consensus among political leaders that it’s time to give patients a place to legally buy it if they can’t or don’t want to grow their own.

But when the conference committee led by Green and Belatti met Tuesday, it became clear that there was a huge gulf between the lawmakers’ visions for the program.

Green preferred a program where a single health care professional in each county would own all of the dispensaries and marijuana farms. He wanted eligible applicants selected on a first-come, first-served basis, and said his version took into account concerns from law enforcement.

Belatti favored more licensees and dispensaries over a longer timeline. She wanted the state Department of Health to choose licensees through a merit-based evaluation. Compared with Green’s, her version was more in line with the recommendations of a state task force report.

House and Senate leadership have spent the last few days trying to convince Green and Belatti to come to an agreement.

Even Gov. David Ige got involved. Green spoke with Ige’s chief of staff Wednesday, but declined to meet with the governor directly and said he wouldn’t revise the bill even if the governor planned to veto it.

“The governor doesn’t know half of what I know or what you know or Sen. Espero knows about this program,” Green told Belatti Friday. “He is a fantastic guy but he is not in the trenches.”

While Green resisted Ige’s overtures, the senator did compromise some, including agreeing to expand the definition of who could own the dispensaries so that it wouldn’t be limited to health care providers.

For her part, Belatti agreed to permit fewer licensees, and adopted Green’s requirement that a licensee own both the dispensaries and the production centers.

But 40 minutes before the deadline, neither would budge on the application process.

Green argued that Belatti’s proposed process was ambiguous and would open the door to favoritism and lawsuits.

“It is a process that would result in behind closed doors decision-making that has utterly no connection to right or wrong,” said the senator from the Big Island.

Despite her longtime support for establishing dispensaries, Belatti stood firm.

“That simply is the only and last point remaining,” she said. “The House cannot accept the Senate’s decision and I’m sorry but the bill is deferred.” She slammed her gavel and left the packed room.

Triage Began Almost Immediately

Minutes afterward, Espero met with Kim to try to figure out a way to revive the bill.

After a short floor session at 6:30 p.m., the Senate’s 24 Democrats went into caucus to discuss what to do.

Later, Belatti requested a recess during the House session and spoke quietly on the floor with House Speaker Joseph Souki, House Majority Leader Scott Saiki and Reps. Sylvia Luke and Karl Rhoads.

By 7:30 p.m. it became clear that the conference committee was planning to reconvene to resurrect the bill.

A press release sent around 8:15 p.m. announced that the bill would be heard at8:30 p.m. but Kim later announced that the measure would wait until Monday.

The political wrangling over the measure illustrates the importance of the bill that many lawmakers believed was a sure thing this session.


And there’s more. The payday loan bill went down in flames. The industry has people who travel the country selling these loans to the most vulnerable in our communities. They also employed the good ole boy lobbyists (Red Morris, John Radcliff and Bruce Coppa).  For a session that most described as kind of mild, all the excitement was saved until the end …and after! Civil Beat has a story on what happened at the conference committee on SB 737


Effort to Cap Payday Loan Rates Dies After Maui Lawmakers Clash

Rep. Justin Woodson wanted to maintain the current maximum interest rate, while Sen. Rosalyn Baker was adamant about lowering it.


A bill to lower maximum payday loan interest rates died Friday after a fiery standoff between Sen. Rosalyn Baker and Rep. Justin Woodson, both of Maui County.

Baker’s proposal, Senate Bill 737, would have capped the annual percentage rate for payday loans at 36 percent, much lower than the current 459 percent.

Woodson countered with a different proposal Thursday that he said was intended to improve enforcement of the current law and maintain the existing interest rate cap.

On Friday morning, Baker wasn’t having it.

“Basically what your bill does is to put this kind of anti-consumer predatory lending thing in the statute in a different way than what it currently exists,” she said. “That’s not acceptable to the Senate.”

“The House position is 18 percent transactional fee, the Senate position is 36 percent APR,” Woodson said, noting that the law stipulates loans must be paid back within 30 days and he doesn’t think the APR is an appropriate way to measure their cost.

Baker pointed out that most borrowers take out multiple loans and remain indebted for months. A national study found that 80 percent of payday loans are rolled over or renewed within two weeks.

“But if the House wants to be known as the group that is anti-consumer protection and wants to be standing up for a predatory lending practice, so be it,” she said. “The Senate will not agree, and we can adjourn now. Is that your pleasure?”

“There’s a lot of misinformation …” Woodson started to say.

“Is that your pleasure?” Baker interrupted.

“We agree to disagree Senator,” he said.

“We’re adjourned.” She slammed the gavel.

Math Problems

Hawaii legalized the payday lending industry in 1999 through a statute called “deferred deposits.” The law permits lenders to charge a 15 percent fee on a loan of up to $600, and the money has to be paid back within a month.

Generally the loan lasts for a two-week period and in practice, lenders charge a total of 17.65 percent per loan. For example, one customer who took out a $500 loan at Money Mart paid $88.20 after two weeks.

To Woodson, that’s a reasonable fee that will let payday loan companies stay in business. He said after Friday’s hearing that he doesn’t think Baker understands the way the loans work.

“We have to conduct ourselves in a certain way in this building but I think how Sen Baker was acting was unbecoming,” he said. “What happened today was… potentially a burning of a bridge.”

But Baker thinks that it’s Woodson who is miscalculating how much the loans cost. His latest draft of the bill changed the law to allow a lender to charge $17.65 per $100 loan, which she believes would actually increase the legal interest rate.

Kim Harman, a community organizer who has been advocating for the 36 percent APR cap, agreed.

“Woodson either truly doesn’t understand how payday loans work or it feels like he was punishing borrowers for trying to improve them,” Herman said.

The representative from Kahului has been taking heat from advocates like Harman who see his position as defending a predatory industry at the expense of low-income residents.

Woodson said he believes his position, which is backed by key House leaders like Rep. Sylvia Luke, helps consumers while still ensuring that payday lenders can stay in business.

He disagreed that the annual percentage rate is the best way to measure the cost of the loan, even though a national study found that payday loan borrowers are indebted an average of 199 days each year.

‘Window Dressing’

Woodson’s proposal would have implemented a five-day cooling-off period between loans to discourage repeat borrowers.

Steve Levins, who leads the state Office of Consumer Protection, said studies from other states have shown that cooling-off periods are not effective in protecting debt traps.

For Levins, only the 36 percent APR would create meaningful reform. Although the state has laws in place banning companies from rolling over loans and giving out more than one loan to the same customer, the rules haven’t been effective in keeping consumers out of debt, he said.

“To just put window dressing on the current law and to make it appear that consumers were being protected… it’s not something that we can support,” Levins said.

The bill’s failure is good news for payday lending companies like Dollar Financial, which owns nine stores in the state, including Money Mart.

“Under existing law, gross income on a $100 transaction is $17.65. Under this proposal, it is $1.38,” the company stated in written testimony opposing Baker’s version of the bill. “No business can survive a 92.2% decrease in gross income. It doesn’t leave enough revenue to pay the light bill, much less employee payroll and benefits.”

Harman said she disappointed but not surprised the bill failed.

“There’s millions of dollars of profit to be made on poor people in Hawaii so of course there’s going to be a huge fight by the lenders and their lobbyists to protect those millions,” she said. “When the industry is able to pay so much money to fight it, you get confusing language and tricky numbers and it’s an uphill battle.”

CAPWatch Conference Update 4.30.15

Conference Committee – Day 6 – Wednesday, April 30, 2015



Now it just needs the final vote in order to send it up to the Governor.


4.14.15 PASSED 3rd Reading  – 23-2  Aye(s) with reservations: Gabbard, Kidani, Kouchi, Riviere;

No: Harimoto, Slom





Senate: Keith-Agaran (Chair); Espero, Harimoto (Co-Chairs);Dela Cruz, Slom

House: Takayama, Rhoads, Johanson (Co-Chairs); Woodson, Tupola

The House and the Senate agree. I was told today that FIN and WAM released the bill (it has no fiscal impact)

And it will be voted on tomorrow, FRIDAY, MAY 1ST at 2pm in 325.



PASSED 3rd Reading – UNANIMOUS   Ayes w/ reservations: DeCoite, Har, Kawakami, Keohokalole, LoPresti, Lowen, Matsumoto, Oshiro, Pouha, Rhoads, San Buenaventura, Tokioka, Ward

Senate: Baker (Chair); Kidani, Taniguchi

House: Woodson, Nishimoto (Co-Chairs); Brower, McDermott

The House does not want the cap and the Senate is holding firm, so I don’t have much hope for this bill. The committee will reconvene FRIDAY, MAY 1st  at 10:15 am in room 016.


HB 148 HD2 SD1                  WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT

4.10.15 PASSED 3rd Reading – UNANIMOUS Aye w/reservations: Thielen

House: Rhoads, DeCoite (Co-Chairs); Sanbuenaventura, McDermott

Senate: Keith-Agaran (Chair); Tokuda (Co-Chair), Riviere, Shimabukuro, Thielen

Although the House and Senate agree on the language, FIN and WAM have not released the bill as yet. I am hoping that this bill passes. It would improve the quality of justice in Hawai`i by asserting that the state is held as accountable as citizens for wrongdoing. The committee will reconvene FRIDAY, MAY 1st  at 2 pm in room 325. PLEASE SEND GOOD VIBES TO THE COMMITTEE. THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT JUSTICE ISSUE.



4.14.15 PASSED 3rd Reading – 23-2 Ayes w/ reservations: Espero, Harimoto, Riviere . Noes, 2 Kouchi, Slom           

House: Belatti, Rhoads, Luke (Co-Chairs); Sanbuenaventura, Takayama, Fukumoto-Chang

Senate: Green (Chair); Espero, Keith-Agaran, Tokuda (Co-Chairs);  Gabbard

There was a much more congenial atmosphere today as leadership (Senate President Donna Kim and House Majority Leader Scott Saiki) attended the conference committee. The Senate and House have agreed to some issues but are still negotiating others. The committee will reconvene FRIDAY, MAY 1st  at 1pm in Room 229.

I believe something will emerge, but in what form, one cannot say. We just hope that this is about patients and helping people.

Today was the last day for filing non-fiscal bills and tomorrow is the deadline for filing fiscal bills.   This is it.

So far we are doing well.

  • We helped 16 bills pass;
  • 2 have already been signed into law as Act 15 (SB 564 – Reentry Commission) and Act 16 (Data Collection re Children of Incarcerated Parents);
  • 12 bills went to conference;
  • 5 bills passed conference (and we’re not done yet) – SB 982; SB 211; SB 569; SB 1291; HB 631

Do your little bit of good where you are;
it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
-Desmond Tutu