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Hawaiʻi Senate announces plans to address corruption and reopen State Capitol

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COVID-19 Legislature reconvenes. PC: Hawai’i Senate Majority

The Hawaiʻi State Senate announced plans to advance legislation that aims to address fraud, white collar crime, political corruption and sex and human trafficking. SB 2930 SD1 gives the Attorney General the necessary tools to investigate and assist law enforcement agencies in the prosecution of these crimes.

This comes following an announcement from the US Attorney’s Office – District of Hawaiʻi earlier this week accusing former Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English of Maui and former state Rep. Ty Cullen of taking bribes and receiving payment for actions involving cesspool legislation.

Political Corruption and Sex and Human Trafficking

The Senate Government Operations Committee introduced a short form bill (SB 2930 SD1) that aims to establish two new divisions within the Department of the Attorney General to address fraud, white collar crime, political corruption and sex and human trafficking.

The measure would appropriate $834,000 for the operations of the Special Investigation and Prosecution unit and $754,000 to operate the Sex and Human Trafficking unit.

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“In working closely with the Attorney General and Senate Ways and Means committee chair Donovan Dela Cruz, we believe that the establishment of these two divisions within the Department of the Attorney General will provide the State with the ability and jurisdiction to investigate wrongdoings by individuals who commit fraudulent crimes and exploit women and children,” said Senator Sharon Moriwaki, chair of the Senate Committee on Government Operations. “This measure also reinforces our commitment to ensure that the public’s trust in government is not undermined by those who abuse their positions of power.”

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The measure heads to the Senate floor for first reading and will be referred to committee.

Click here to review the proposed bill language. 

Reopening The State Capitol

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Due to declining counts of COVID-19 cases across the State, the Senate is reevaluating the opening of the State Capitol. 

“With COVID-19 cases on a rampant rise in early January, State and legislative leaders made the decision to keep the Capitol building close to minimize the spread of COVID-19 among members, staff and other building occupants,” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi. “Earlier this week, I announced to the caucus that with COVID-19 cases on the decline, Senate leadership will be working with the House, the Governor and the Department of Accounting and General Services to formulate a reopening plan for the Capitol.”

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