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New year, new laws

December 31, 2013 - 6:43pm

Problems of high incarceration and hospitalization rates of those with severe mental illness exist in Hawaii. The state Legislature found “the situation can be mitigated if individuals are assisted in being treated in the community.”

A new state law takes effect today establishing an assisted community treatment program for people with severe mental illness, as well as features amended procedures for program admission and discharge. It strives to treat these individuals in “the least restrictive setting” and reduce the trend toward criminalizing mental illness.

The law requires an entity designated by the state Department of Health to submit an annual report to the Legislature about the hospitalization of people under an order for assisted community treatments. It also prohibits state-operated providers from filing a petition for assisted community treatment until July 1, 2015. However, it allows private providers and any other interested parties to file a petition after today.

In 2013, there were 288 acts produced by the state Legislature and a dozen bills that became law without Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s signature. Several new state laws take effect today. Others were implemented July 1, which was the start of the fiscal year, or on other dates specified in the bills.

Among the new state laws ringing in 2014 is one requiring employers provide employees with specific wage and employer information in the employees’ pay records while also maintaining accurate and timely record keeping.

Health care facilities performing mammography exams are now required to give patients with dense breast tissue a mammography report and notification about associated cancer risks, as well as supplemental screening benefits.

Another measure taking effect today broadens the petty misdemeanor crime of second-degree criminal trespass to include a person who enters or remains unlawfully in or upon the premises of a public housing project or state low-income housing project, following “a reasonable request or warning” to leave by housing authorities or a police officer. A reasonable request or warning includes communication in writing at any time within a one-year period inclusive of the date the incident occurred.

The state and counties are now required to take action within 60 days for broadband-related permit applications or the applications will be deemed approved. The state is also required to take action within 140 days for use application for broadband facilities within the conservation district.

Another law establishes base monthly contributions for health benefit plans, including two-party plans, paid by the state and counties for retired employees. The specified amounts include $524.73 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in supplemental Medicare self plans; $1,051.70 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in supplemental Medicare two-party plans; $1,531.78 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in supplemental Medicare family plans; $736.60 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in non-Medicare self plans; $1,484.72 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in non-Medicare two-party plans; and $2,173 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in non-Medicare family plans.

As of the new year, escrow depositories are required to report any change of their corporate designated escrow officer or branch manager to the state Commissioner of Financial Institutions. Other changes include a statutory fee for the transfer or change in control of an escrow depository license; increases the fidelity bond maintained by escrow depositories to a minimum of $100,000; increases the errors and omissions policy amount escrow depositories are required to carry to not less than $250,000; providing powers for the commissioner to supervise and regulate the industry; and increases net capital requirement to $100,000.

For more information about these laws, visit

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