CAP Watch: Kat’s Reflections on the 2013 Legislature

Sunday, May 5, 2013

This session was different than other sessions in many ways.

Quote 5.6.13The new leadership in the House actually proved that things could be different. For the first time in my memory, the Finance and Ways and Means Chairs worked so collaboratively that the budget was completed three days before their internal deadline! They eliminated that last long and painful Friday night, where the old guard was ‘auctioning’ off bills that affect all our lives. There was more transparency (although there is still much to be done in this regard) and less frenzy than usual.

The House was responsible for passing more progressive bills that have been stalled by the old guard – many for more than a decade (such as compassionate care for rape survivors – HB411; transferring the medical marijuana program from public safety to the department of health (as in most other jurisdictions); and finally listening to patients and doctors to make some improvements to the program). None of this would have happened without the new leadership in the House.

Throughout the session, the old guard in the House did its best to stymie the success of the new leadership. There were many behind the scenes maneuvers, starting with the former Speaker refusing to move from his office until right before the opening of the session. Childish moves that reeked of politics rather than ‘doing the people’s business’ as they have repeatedly proclaimed. Despite these challenges, the new leadership stepped up and got down to business right away.

The session opened on January 16th with the House introducing 1,484 bills and the Senate introducing 1,388 bills – in total 2,872 bills were introduced to the 2013 Legislature.

CAP did very well this session.

We helped pass 6 Justice bills:

·         HB 919 – state employment for drug offenders; (signed as ACT 30)

·         HB 1133 – Repealing the PLDC (that had corporate prison profiteers salivating); (signed as ACT 38)

·         SB 61 – Promoting restorative justice for juveniles; (signed as ACT 62)

·         SB 68 – Increasing judicial discretion and reducing mandatory sentences for B & C drug felonies;

·         HB 218 – Adding OHA and a Hawaiian practitioner to the Corrections Population Management Commission; and

·         HB 1279 – Securing $250,000 for reintegration.

We helped pass 4 Health bills:

·         HB 411 – Compassionate care for rape survivors (signed as ACT 27)

·         HB 668 – Moving the medical marijuana program from PSD to DOH

·         SB 642 – Making some improvements to the medical marijuana program

·         SB 655 – Allowing doctors to prescribe medication to partners of those who have sexually transmitted diseases – as recommended by the Center for Disease Control

We worked on many bills this session that didn’t make it (about 35 bills) and we will be working on them next session. I have already been talking with Chairs about them and will work hard in the interim to educate legislators on the wisdom of caring for those incarcerated; those exiting incarceration; and for those struggling individuals and families in our communities.

The most important thing in this work is to never, ever quit. We work on those issues that most folks don’t want to talk, or even think, about. It is our mission to ensure that these important issues are top of mind for policymakers.

Again, CAP humbly thanks all of you who have promoted justice. It does take a village to make the necessary changes.


“Reach for the moon, because if you don’t make it you’ll land among the stars.”
Les Brown


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