Happy Birthday to Senator Clayton Hee

Today is Senator Clayton Hee’s birthday. To celebrate, his staff got together for scrumptious cake.

His staff sends their best to Senator Hee on his special day.

Clayton Hee is the state senator for District 23 encompassing the neighborhoods of  Kane‘ohe, Ka‘a‘awa,Hau‘ula, La‘ie, Kahuku, Waialua, Hale‘iwa, Wahiawa, Schofield Barracks, and Kunia.

Senate Judiciary Chair Announce Effort to Establish “No Fishing Zone” Around Ni’ihau Island

(Two owners of the Island of Ni‘ihau, Bruce and Leiana Robinson joined eight other island residents, DLNR Director William Aila, Deputy Director Esther Kiaaina and members from the Senate’s Hawaiian Caucus- Senators Clayton Hee, Michelle Kidani and Brickwood Galuteria at a press conference today, announcing efforts to resolve issues relating to the depletion of near shore fisheries on the Island of Ni‘ihau.)

Honolulu- Hawai‘i State Senate Judiciary Chair Clayton Hee in a press conference today announced that the Hawaii State Legislature and the Department of Land Natural Resources (DLNR) intend to respond individually to the depletion of near shore fisheries on the Island of Ni‘ihau.

Ni‘ihau is a constant and living reminder of the interdependence of man and nature,” said Senator Hee. “There is no question that unless the government takes dramatic proactive steps to reserve the near shore fisheries for the island population, their survival going forward is in jeopardy.”

Unlike every other populated Hawaiian Island, Ni‘ihau is the only island that does not have any commercial stores where food can be purchased.  As such, the near shore reef fishery serves as their predominant source of food.

With the fisheries of Kaua‘i Island becoming more depleted as the population has grown, accompanied by a disregard for taking care of the near shore fisheries, more and more people have been going to Ni‘ihau at greater frequency taking food sources upon which the native population of Ni‘ihau is totally dependent.

To protect these valued resources and resolve ongoing issues caused by the external exploitation of Ni‘ihau, Senator Hee announced that the Senate, in consultation with the Hawaiian Affairs Committee of the House, intends to introduce legislation to establish a “no fishing zone” law for Ni‘ihau Island. In addition, DLNR is currently analyzing a series of administrative rules to strike a balance between the protection of Ni‘ihau residents and offshore opportunities.

This is a unique situation unlike anywhere else in Hawai‘i and this unique situation calls for unique legislation,” said Senator Hee. “The Hawaiian Caucus of the Senate intends to introduce legislation that will in essence create a no-take zone around the island.”

Governor Signs Senate Bill 1, Relating to Equal Rights, into Law

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii, making Hawaii the 15th state to enact such legislation.

In a release by the Office of the Governor, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor Clayton Hee stated, “Although Hawaii was not the first to enact same-sex marriage, what shouldn’t be lost is Hawaii was the first in the Baehr v. Lewin lawsuit, that started the same-sex marriage discussion nationally. I am pleased today to be able to open a new chapter in our state’s history and to join the growing list of states in conferring to all Americans equal treatment under the law.”

Senate Bill 1, Relating to Equal Rights recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage to which opposite-sex couples are presently entitled.

The new law takes effect on December 2, 2013.

To view the Governor’s press release: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/gov-abercrombie-signs-historic-marriage-equity-legislation-into-law/.

Hawaii State Senate Sends Governor Measure to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Honolulu- In an historic vote, the Hawaii State Senate today passed a measure on final reading  to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii, accepting the House amendments to Senate Bill 1 (SB 1 HD 1), Relating to Equal Rights.  The measure will now go to the Governor’s desk for his approval.

Today’s passage of Senate Bill 1 marks a pivotal moment in our State’s history, a moment enshrined in equality and justice,” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria, who introduced the bill. “Working together with our colleagues in the State House we have come to a compromise which provides a balance between religious freedom and equal rights.”

SB 1 HD1 recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage to which opposite-sex couples are presently entitled.

I am pleased to have played a small part in this legislation which will bring equality, justice, and liberty for all regarding all Americans,” said Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.

Incorporating public input and changes proposed by the House, the measure takes into account the concerns expressed by both the religious community and same-sex advocates. Specifically, language regarding religious exemptions for religious organizations and clergy performing solemnization has been amended to closely model similar provisions currently in effect in the State of Connecticut.

Under SB 1 HD1, religious organizations and affiliated nonprofits would be exempt from having to provide goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or the celebration of solemnization if it is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith. It also specifies that clergy and religious officers are not required to solemnize if it is against their religious beliefs or faith. In addition, the measure grants immunity from administrative, civil, and legal liability to religious organizations and officials for the failure or refusal to provide services, good, or facilities as described. Language has also been included that conforms the above exemptions to the existing civil union statute.

If signed into law by the Governor, same-sex marriages would begin December 2, 2013 in the State.

Statement by Senator Clayton Hee in Response to House’s Passage of SB 1 H1, Relating to Equal Rights

Honolulu- Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor Clayton Hee released the following statement regarding the House’s passage of Senate Bill 1, House Draft 1 (SB 1 HD1), Relating to Equal Rights.

“The Senate is currently reviewing the proposed House amendments to Senate Bill 1,” said Senator Hee. “Each member will evaluate the House Draft and we will meet to discuss the next appropriate step for the Senate to consider.

I believe each member understands the weight of justice embodied in this legislative proposal. I also believe the Senate will act in the best interest in the State of Hawaii and in concurrence with the constitutions of the United States and Hawaii.”

The Hawaii State Senate will convene Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. to consider the proposed amendments.

Senate Advances Marriage Equality Bill

Honolulu- The Hawaii State Senate today passed a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii.

“The Senate’s passage of this bill marks an historic step towards equality, fairness, and justice,” said Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “I look forward to working with our colleagues in the House as this measure moves forward.”

Senate Bill (SB) 1, Relating to Equal Rights, recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage to which opposite-sex couples are presently entitled.

“This measure represents the Senate’s best effort to strike a balance between religious freedom and equal rights,” said Senator Hee. “Language has been included that preserves the sincerely held religious beliefs of religious organizations.”

Incorporating public input, the Senate’s measure takes into account the concerns expressed by both the religious community and same-sex advocates. SB 1 recognizes freedom of religion by:

  • Exempting a religious organization from liability for refusing to make its facilities or grounds available for solemnization of any marriage celebration if the religious organization does not make its facilities or grounds available to the public for solemnization of any marriage celebration for a profit; and
  • Specifying examples of the types of religious organization activities that do not constitute “for a profit.”

The measure has been transmitted to the House for consideration.

To review the bill, receive more information about special session, and keep updated about the bill’s status, please go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsession.aspx?year=2013b.

 

Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor to Hold Hearing on Marriage Equality Bill

Honolulu- The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor will hold a hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 1, Relating to Equal Rights, on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the State Capitol Auditorium. The hearing will follow the convening of the Second Special Session of 2013 called by Governor Neil Abercrombie.

Listening to public input, we’ve strived to strike a balance between the concerns expressed by both sides of this issue,” said Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “We have also done our best to provide the public with ample opportunity to review the measure posted online to offer further input. Everyone wishing to participate may do so by submitting testimony.”

Testimony is currently being accepted. The deadline to submit testimony is Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.

Members of the public wishing to submit testimony may do so online, via email, in person, or by fax. More information about the hearing and how to submit testimony can be found on the Committee’s hearing notice at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsession2013b/Hearing%20JDL%2010-28-13.pdf.

If the bill passes out of the Judiciary and Labor Committee, it will go to the full Senate for a vote.

To review the draft bill, receive more information about special session, and keep updated about the bill’s status, please go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsession.aspx?year=2013b.

During special session, the Senate will also take action on numerous interim appointments to boards and commissions requiring Senate confirmation. Confirmation of these appointments is the responsibility of the Senate; if the Senate elects not to take action on the appointments, the individuals appointed cannot continue to serve and are ineligible for another interim appointment to the same position.

The Hawaii State Senate will convene in special session on October 28, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. in the Senate Chambers.  Floor sessions for the remainder of the special session will convene at 11:30 a.m., unless circumstances require otherwise.

Monday’s hearing will be broadcast live by Capitol TV on Olelo Channel 53.

Hawaii State Senate Confirms Judge James H. Ashford to Oahu District Court

(Hawaii State Senate confirms James H. Ashford as a district judge for the First Circuit, located on Oahu.)

Honolulu- In a special session, the Hawaii State Senate today confirmed James H. Ashford as District Judge of the First Circuit, located on Oahu.   He was nominated by Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald and was subject to Senate confirmation. Judge Ashford fills the vacancy created by the selection of Dean Ochiai as First Circuit Court judge.

A son of Hawaii and of a well known attorney, Judge Ashford has shown himself to be an individual of great candor.  With his appointment I believe that the people of Oahu will be well-served,” said Senator Clayton Hee, who chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.

Ashford currently serves as a partner at the law firm of Cades Schutte, where his practice focuses on commercial litigation, including real estate disputes, employment law, construction and condominium disputes, trust and estate litigation and education law. He has tried more than 20 cases in state and federal court and is a regular speaker at litigation and employment law seminars in Hawaii and on the mainland.

Ashford earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Loyola Law School.

He will serve a term of six years.

Hawaii State Senate Announces Transformation in Committee Lineup

Honolulu–The Hawaii State Senate today unveiled changes to its committee lineup and chairmanships. Two committees have been added, splitting the current Committee on Tourism and Hawaiians Affairs (THA) into two separate subject matter committees. The new committees are Tourism (TSM) and Hawaiian Affairs (HWN).

Senator Gilbert Kahele will chair TSM with Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran serving as vice-chair. Senator Maile Shimabukuro will chair HWN with Senator Clayton Hee serving as vice-chair.

In the beginning of the session we acted quickly to organize and kept changes to a minimum so that we could focus our attentions on the issues and prepare for the 2013 session,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “Now that session is over, we are afforded the capacity to listen to feedback and evaluate ourselves. In doing so, we have been able to make some positive changes.  These new assignments maximize the skills and interests of each of our members, while providing us with greater opportunity to focus on the individual subject areas.”

Currently, Senator Brickwood Galuteria has served as both the Majority Leader and Chair of THA. The new committee assignments will allow the newly appointed chairs to take on greater leadership roles while providing Galuteria with more flexibility to serve in his continued capacity as Majority Leader.

I am pleased with this new leadership lineup for the committees,” said Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria. “Understanding the role of a chair makes my Senate Majority Leadership assignment more effective. I look forward to working with both Chairs Kahele and Shimabukuro in their new capacities and most importantly to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues to advance the priorities of the Senate Majority.”

Additionally, the Senate announced changes to the vice-chairmanships of the Committees on Commerce and Consumer Protection (CPN) and Water and Land (WTL). Under the new changes Senator Brian Taniguchi will serve as vice-chair of CPN and Galuteria as vice-chair of WTL.

 

The change in committee assignments will take effect July 1, 2013.

Statement by Senator Clayton Hee in Response to Governor’s Signing of Click it or Ticket Bill

Honolulu- On May 20, 2013, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill (SB) 4, relating to Motor Vehicles, into law.  This measure requires all front and back seat passengers to be restrained by a seat belt assembly or child passenger restraint while the motor vehicle is being operated on any public highway.

Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor, issued this statement in response to the enactment of SB 4:

The data regarding seat belt use is irrefutable,” said Senator Hee, who was the introducer of the bill. “Seventy-five percent of back seat passengers suffer serious injury of death when they are not properly buckled up.  People’s lives will be saved by this new law and, at the end of the day, that is really what counts!”

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, seat belt restraints increase the safety of all motor vehicle occupants by as much as forty-five percent.  By requiring all front seat and back seat occupants to buckle up, this bill seeks to protect the safety of Hawaii’s motor vehicle drivers and passengers.

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