Ige to sign bill on harassment, violence

HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige intends to sign a bill supported by the bipartisan Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus that legislators passed related to sexual harassment in the workplace and domestic violence.

Ige intended to veto the HB 2054, HD1, SD1, but after meeting with the Women’s Legislative Caucus, reportedly changed his mind.

A concern with this bill is that abusers are granted a complete deferral term and would not be subject to the firearm prohibition because deferral is not a conviction.

The caucus addressed the concerns of Ige in a recent meeting, said state Rep. Nadine Nakamura (District 14, Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, Anahola, Kapa‘a, Wailua).

This bill will allow abusers to own and possess firearms.

Ige will sign Bill SB2638 to make the bill become law by Sept. 15 and establish a five-year pilot program to strengthen government response to domestic violence and increase offender accountability.

Under the current legal climate, any person convicted of an abuse offense is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm.

A portion of HB 2060, HD1, SD1, relates to the complexities of reporting domestic-violence claims.

The updated proposal package’s highlights include the courts’ sealing any record of a denied temporary restraining order or protective order. Under current law, perpetrators of domestic violence can file a restraining order against the victim.

Typically, temporary restraining orders from the perpetrator are denied, but the victim will still have it on their record under current law.

The bill also prohibits retaliation against an employee for disclosing sexual harassment or assault.

The impetus for a portion of the bill related to sexual harassment was a 2019 study conducted by Safe Spaces &Workplaces. The study found that 52% of women and 42% of men experienced workplace sexual harassment while working in Hawai‘i.

“Women and families are the biggest beneficiaries of this bill,” Nakamura said.

A portion of the bill prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to enter a non-disclosure agreement related to sexual harassment or assault.

“I would like to credit the work of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the bill introducers for going to all of the counties three years ago and sitting down with domestic-abuse victims, advocates, police and prosecutors to understand the issues and then craft this bill,” Nakamura said. “It took several sessions to achieve this result, which addresses domestic violence.”

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Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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