East Hawaii News

Governor Signs Bills Protecting Women and Children

July 1, 2013, 5:54 PM HST
* Updated July 2, 1:44 PM
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a variety of bills designed to strengthen laws protecting the rights of women and children.

The bills include protecting children and their mothers from certain types of convicted sex offenders, extending the age of voluntary foster care to 21 and making it a crime to solicit a minor for prostitution.

Abercrombie said many of the bills were the result of members of the community getting involved in the legislative process to protect the rights and safety of women and children.

“I commend the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus, Commission on the Status of Women, and women’s advocates for their dedicated efforts in support of these measures, which address a wide variety of issues ranging from protections for domestic workers, to human trafficking, to recognition of the societal and health benefits of breastfeeding,” Abercrombie said.

The bills signed today included:

  • Senate Bill 529, which requires family courts to deny custody or visitation, and allows courts to terminate parental rights, to a person convicted of a sexual assault when the child is conceived through that assault. Current state law does not prevent the “perpetrator-parent” from asserting parenting rights, including custody and visitation, which can force the victim of the assault to be confronted by her victimizer on a recurring basis.
  • Senate Bill 1340, which extends the voluntary age of foster care from 18 to 21. According to the bill, youth coming out of the foster-care system often do not have financial support, and this legislation will help provide resources as they attend college and transition into society.
  • Senate Bill 192, which makes solicitation of a minor for prostitution a Class C felony, makes the minimum fine for the offense $2,000, and extends the statute of limitations for cases from two to six years. It also requires that those convicted of the crime be required to register as a sex offender and also subjects their assets to forfeiture.
  • Senate Bill 655, which allows health professionals to treat partners of patients diagnosed as having certain sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, by dispensing or prescribing medication to the partners without examining them. Such “expedited partner therapy” will be done in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
  • Senate Bill 532, which requires employers to provide reasonable time and private location for breastfeeding employees to express breast milk. The measure also requires covered employers to post a notice, and establishes a civil fine for each violation. The law does not apply to companies with fewer than 20 employees that can demonstrate it would cause a financial or other hardship.
  • House Bill 587, which amends state law to include persons in a dating relationship under the definition of “family or household member” in terms of physical abuse and subject to police orders for a 48-hour separation.

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