Measures include sex offender restrictions, health care, legal protections, telework
As part of its ongoing efforts to protect and enhance the lives of women, children and families in Hawaiʻi, the bipartisan Hawaiʻi Women’s Legislative Caucus (WLC) held a virtual panel discussion on Wednesday, January 27 in partnership with the YWCA of Oʻahu to announce their 2021 legislative package of bills and resolutions.
“As a member of the Hawaiʻi Womenʻs Legislative Caucus, I am proud to introduce this package to safeguard the health, safety and professional protections for women and children in Hawaiʻi. Throughout 2020, we have seen the devastating impact of the pandemic within the home with additional stresses placed on women. These bills and resolutions will provide the necessary support not only for their individual success but for that of their families as well,” said Senator Michelle Kidani
The package includes five bills including measures to prohibit sex offenders from living near their prior victims or a victim's family; increases the categories of women required to be covered for mammogram screenings; remove the six-month residency requirement prior to seeking divorce in family court; expand the definition of abuse of family or household member to include coercive control; and require each state department to establish a telework and alternative work schedule policy.
“I look forward to engaging my colleagues on these measures, especially those to expand protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns put many victims in a tenuous situation. These bills will give victims added protection and resources,” said Representative Linda Ichiyama.
The Women’s Legislative Caucus co-conveners for 2021-2022 are Senators Rosalyn Baker (D-6, South and West Maui) and Michelle Kidani (D-18, Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia) and Representatives Lauren Matsumoto (D-45, Schofield, Mokulē‘ia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipio Acres, and Mililani) and Linda Ichiyama (D-32, Moanalua Valley, Salt Lake, and Āliamanu). New co-conveners are elected every two years.
The House has 16 women Representatives. There are nine women Senators of the 25 members, more than one-third of that body.
The caucus is dedicating its 2021 efforts to former State Representative Cynthia Thielen and her daughter, former State Senator Laura Thielen. Both women left elected office last year and are well known for their contributions to the betterment of women, children and families.
“We are deeply grateful for the many years of service from Rep. Thielen and Sen. Thielen," said Representative Matsumoto. "They represent both the bipartisan spirit and heartfelt passion for improving the lives of women that are the hallmark of the Women’s Legislative Caucus."
The WLC package includes two resolutions.
The resolutions request the Hawaiʻi State Commission on the Status of Women to convene a task force to study missing and murdered Native Hawaiian women and girls; and to convene a task force to address implementation of Hawaiʻi's State Law Corollary to Title IX in light of recent changes to Federal Title IX Regulations.
The caucus is also supporting four additional bills that are not part of the package, due to a limit on the number of bills that can be introduced by a caucus.
The additional bills supported by the caucus would establish the felony offense of importation, sale, or possession of a childlike sex doll; expand the time period for commencing a civil action for childhood sexual abuse; expands the victim-counselor privilege under Rule 505.5 of the Hawaiʻi Rules of Evidence to include confidential advocates employed by the University of Hawaiʻi System; and authorize a prosecution for sex trafficking to be commenced at any time.
“The Women’s Legislative Caucus has always advocated for issues that are important to women and their families,” said Senator Rosalyn Baker. “This year is no different. We will continue to champion efforts to ensure that their voices are heard here at the Legislature.”
See the entire 2021 Legislative package