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Ige signs bills to advance clean energy, protect domestic violence survivors

Lawmakers, government officials and supporters of Hawaii’s transition to clean ground transportation, including Maui state Rep. Tina Wildberger (first row, third from left), attend a bill signing ceremony with Gov. David Ige (seated) at Oahu’s Central Middle School on Thursday. Photos courtesy Office of the Governor

The Maui News

Gov. David Ige signed bills into law to support energy and environmental goals as well as two measures that protect domestic violence survivors and minors.

In a ceremony on Thursday, Ige signed three House bills that support Hawaii’s transition to clean ground transportation.

One of those new laws, Act 73, requires all state agencies to put a preference on electric or hybrid vehicles when renting a vehicle to conduct official government business, provided the vehicle is suitable for specific travel requirements and available, according to a news release from the state House of Representatives.

Maui state Rep. Tina Wildberger, whose district includes Kihei, Wailea and Makena, was the primary introducer of the bill.

Members of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, including Maui state Sen. Roz Baker (third from left), and supporters attend a bill signing ceremony with Gov. David Ige (center) on Thursday for measures to protect domestic violence survivors and minors.

“Everything we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be everyone’s goal,” said Wildberger, who is the vice chairwoman of the House Government Reform Committee. “This measure will help encourage the rental car companies to invest in electric vehicles and know there is a market share that will rent them.”

Another bill signed into law as Act 75 allocates monies from the state’s barrel tax to fund the rebate program for the installation of electric vehicle charging systems.

The third bill, now Act 74, establishes a goal for state agencies to transition 100 percent of light-duty motor vehicles in their fleets to zero-emissions vehicles by Dec. 31, 2035. The bill also establishes procurement preferences to encourage cleaner medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

In separate ceremony, Ige signed two bills into law from the bipartisan Women’s Legislative Caucus 2021 legislative package.

One bill, 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 live in or be physically present in the state continuously for at least six months before applying for divorce. The removal of the 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 or harm and jeopardize safety, according to a news release from the state Legislature.

Another bill, now Act 67, establishes the offense of importation, sale or possession of one or more childlike sex dolls. Designed to look and feel as lifelike as possible, the dolls often contribute to the exploitation, objectification, abuse and sexual assault of minors, the news release said.

Hawaii is a pass-through for shipments of the dolls from international suppliers to the continental U.S.

“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,” said Maui state Sen. Roz Baker, whose district covers South and West Maui. “I also want to thank our male colleagues for their support of these measures.”

A bill that will become law without Ige’s signature would add “coercive control” to the definition of abuse of a family household member.

Coercive control is often part of the cycle of domestic violence and is 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,” the news release said.

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