SUGGESTED LANGUAGE FOR GOVERNMENTAL POWERS BILL
The Hawaii Legislature has several bills to amend the statute governing emergency powers. The first to be scheduled for hearing was HB 1585. The second was SB 3089. Both bills take a completely wrong approach by weakening, rather than protecting, the people’s political power.
While emergencies can require drastic action, such action must be limited to that period of time absolutely necessary to protect against infringement on our fundamental rights. I agree that the statute, Chapter 127A, must be amended to ensure that emergency powers are not abused. However, in order to protect the proper balance between the political power of government and the citizens, a constitutional amendment is the better answer.
Therefore, I suggest that the legislature delete the changes to Section 127A-14 in Section 5 of the bill and instead insert this language in SB 3089:
In order to clarify in the strongest possible terms that abuse of emergency powers occurs beyond the first 60 days after the emergency is proclaimed, the following amendment to the Hawaii Constitution is proposed:
Article I Section 1 shall be amended as follows:
Section 1. All political power of this State is inherent in the people and the responsibility for the exercise thereof rests with the people. All government is founded on this authority. Any exercise of emergency powers must automatically terminate on the 60th day after the initiation of the first action pursuant to emergency power unless both the executive and legislative branches act to extend the emergency powers for that specific emergency.
BILL SB 3089. [HB 1585] RELATING TO EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT.
Amends chapter 127A, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), to clarify State and local authority, ensure effective and adaptable emergency response, and further the goals of transparency and democratic accountability. Clarifies that powers granted for emergency purposes shall not be construed as permitting actions inconsistent with the state constitution. Amends chapter 127A, HRS, to provide for greater clarity and specificity regarding the scope of suspensions of law. Clarifies that Hawaii's emergency management system includes coordination between State and county emergency management functions, where appropriate. Clarifies the legal framework governing the extension and termination of emergency periods. Adds the definition of the term "severe weather warning" as used in section 127A-30, HRS.