Maui News

Gov. Green signs first bills into law, relating to felony prosecutions and reproductive rights

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Gov. Josh Green’s inaugural bill signing ceremony. (3.22.23) Photo credit: Office of the Governor.

Governor Josh Green, M.D. signed his first bills into law on Wednesday, relating to felony prosecutions and reproductive rights. 

Senate Bill 36, resolutely codifies conditions under which felony prosecutions can be initiated within the State of Hawai‘i. Another measure, Senate Bill 1 seeks to provide stronger, clearer protections for reproductive health care services, and increases access to those services.

Senate Bill 36 (SB36) amends state law to allow county prosecutors to initiate felony cases by complaints following preliminary hearings and prohibits multiple attempts to initiate a felony prosecution for an offense, except in certain circumstances. According to Gov. Green, the amendment to HRS Section 801-1 resolves an issue resulting from the Hawai‘i Supreme Court decision in State v. Obrero, in which the court ruled that HRS 801-1 did not permit initiation of felony criminal charges via preliminary hearing. The ruling came despite active use of the process for some 40 years. 


A subsection of SB36 limits the prosecution to one attempt to charge a felony case via grand jury indictment or complaint following preliminary hearing unless certain conditions are met, including presentation of additional material evidence, there is evidence of misconduct by the grand jury or grand jury counsel, or if a court finds good cause to allow another attempt.

“The people of Hawai‘i want to feel safe in their homes and communities and have every right to expect government leaders to provide public safety. This legislation is a tool that will help our law enforcement officers and county prosecutors continue their work toward that goal,” said Gov. Green. Upon his signature, SB36 became Act 1.

Another measure, Senate Bill 1 (SB1) advances Hawai‘i’s long civil rights history. Key aspects of new law are that it expands access to reproductive health care services; clarifies that the state will not deny or interfere with a pregnant person’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy and protects Hawai‘i health care providers from punitive legal action from within or outside of the state relating to the provision of legally provided reproductive health care services, according to a news release issued by the state. Additional protections, prohibitions and requirements are included.


“This is one of the most important issues of our time and as Hawai‘i’s physician-governor, I tell you absolutely that this goes beyond a complex social issue for political discussion. This is 100% about fundamental, practical health care for our people,” Gov. Green said. Upon his signature, SB1 became Act 2.

Abortion has again risen to the forefront since the 2022 US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Dobbs v. Jackson Woman’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. “Roe” was a 1973 SCOTUS decision that decriminalized abortion and protected the right to access the procedure legally across the country.


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