SB540  has passed through both the House and Senate and is expected to be on Governor Ige’s desk for a signature this week. The bill, introduced by Sen. Karl Rhoads (808-586-6130, senrhoads@hawaii.capitol.gov) eases the task for law enforcement in fining and jailing pandemic rules violators. 

Mask and social distancing violations, such as not wearing a mask in public or hosting large gatherings, as well as hiking on State lands closed to the public, would be subject to a $200 fine, a year in jail, or both. Higher fines, up to $5,000 were previously being allowed for such infractions, but with thousands of cases gumming up the courts, reports from the public mention that many such cases were dismissed. 

This new bill would make punishment of infractions more readily executable. Infractions will be treated in much the same way as traffic violations in order to move cases through the court system more rapidly. In most cases, law enforcement will not be required to appear in court as a witness, and to further expedite matters, as is written in the bill, such adjudication would encourage the public to resolve the infraction by simply paying the monetary fine.

To voice opposition to the erosion of civil liberties in the Aloha State, concerns can be addressed to Gov. Ige at https://governor.hawaii.gov/contact-us/contact-the-governor/ You can also speak to his office at 808-586-0034.

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