Bipartisan Women's Legislative Caucus Bills Signed by Governor Ige
Measures address family court jurisdiction, child exploitation
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – House and Senate leaders of the bipartisan Hawaiʻi Women’s Legislative Caucus (WLC) attended a ceremony at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol today as Governor David Y. Ige signed two bills into law from the WLC’s 2021 legislative package.
"The bills signed today reflect the critical importance of legal protections in family court and reducing criminal offenses perpetrated against children," said Representative Linda Ichiyama (House District 32, Moanalua Valley, Salt Lake, Aliamanu), a caucus co-convener. "Even though this session was shortened due to the pandemic, the Women's Legislative Caucus continues to introduce and support many bills that affect women, children and families."
SB828 HD1 SD1, now Act 69, grants exclusive jurisdiction in matters of divorce to the family court of the circuit in which an applicant resides at the time the application is filed. The bill also repeals the requirement that a person lives in or be physically present in the state continuously period for at least six months before applying for a divorce. The removal of the six-month residency requirement will increase safety for survivors of domestic violence who are married. Requiring a survivor to stay in a jurisdiction to complete a divorce can increase risk of harm and jeopardize safety.
SB834 SD1 HD2 CD1, now Act 67, establishes the offense of importation, sale, or possession of one or more childlike sex dolls. Childlike sex dolls, which are designed to look and feel as lifelike as possible, often contribute to the exploitation, objectification, abuse, and sexual assault of minors. Unfortunately, Hawaiʻi is a pass-through for shipments of these dolls from international suppliers to the continental United States. This bill will deter the practice of Hawaii being used as an entry point for childlike sex dolls.
The Women’s Legislative Caucus co-conveners for 2021-2022 are Senators Rosalyn H. Baker and Michelle N. Kidani and Representatives Lauren Matsumoto and Linda Ichiyama.
"As a Senate co-convener of the Women's Legislative Caucus, I am pleased to see these bills being signed by the Governor. I believe they show the Legislature's commitment to women's rights and protection under the law from abusive and coercive situations," said Senator Michelle N. Kidani (Senate District18, Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia).
Also part of the WLC bill package is HB566 HD1 SD1, which will become law without the Governor's signature. The bill adds coercive control to the definition of abuse of family household member. Coercive control is often part of the cycle of domestic violence and defined in part as "a pattern of threatening, humiliating, or intimidating actions, which may include assaults, or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten an individual." Adding coercive control to the abuse of family household member criminal statute will better reflect the lived experiences of domestic violence survivors.
"As one of the four co-conveners of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, I greatly appreciate the Governor for providing a special signing ceremony for these very important bills, spearheaded by the Women’s Legislative Caucus. I also want to thank our male colleagues for their support of these measures," said Sen. Rosalyn H. Baker (Senate District 6, South and West Maui).
“Each year we work closely with community advocates and service providers on a WLC bill package that will address the needs of women and families in Hawai‘i. I sincerely appreciate the dedication and hard work of all the advocates on these important bills,” said Rep. Lauren Matsumoto (House District 45, Schofield, Mokulē‘ia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipio Acres, Mililani).
The Women's Legislative Caucus includes 15 women Representatives in the House and 10 women Senators.
Follow the link to see the WLC's 2021 Legislative Package.
**Photo courtesy Office of the Governor
Members of the Women's Legislative Caucus and supporters attend the bills signing ceremony today.