Bad bill for victims
Wednesday morning I awoke to the news that the governor of our state signed Senate Bill 2638 into law. It’s a domestic violence bill that will go into effect in January of next year. I literally cried. When a domestic violence bill starts with “Reducing congestion in the court system …” it is clear where your priorities are and, more importantly, where they are not.
Domestic violence victims are carrying the burden of a congested court system. This bill was pushed by many on Oahu, because unfortunately that is where this court congestion is occurring. I can tell you here on the Big Island, I know of no single domestic violence advocate in the field who supported this bill. In fact, in a forum held last year with our state representative, a room full of advocates voiced their concerns regarding this bill, basically begging our representative not to endorse it. Our voices were not heard.
Initially, the governor had this bill on his list of vetoes because he was concerned that the bill had a loophole that would allow a potential abuser to still own a firearm after going through a court approved program.
Nanci Kreidman of the Domestic Violence Action Center claimed that the analysis was flawed and the that the loophole is “usually remedied by an abuse victim taking out a restraining order.”
Many victims of domestic violence don’t take out restraining orders, and they often stay with their perpetrator for a variety of reasons. And while many do want to see their perpetrator get help and have their guns taken away, they don’t want to be the ones held responsible for those consequences.
It is often a relief when the state takes the case, and the judge orders the consequences. Ms. Kreidman acts like taking out a restraining order is as simple as going to the store and getting a pack of gum. It is not. It requires a victim to file paperwork, get a defendant served, and sit in a courtroom often through a number of appearances with the offender to detail the abuse that has occurred.
While there are agencies that will assist victims of domestic violence through this process, at the end of the day these advocates aren’t going home with the victim and her offender — a place where the dynamics of power and control play out every day.
Our office did an analysis of domestic violence homicides in our county since 1988. Of the 54 people who were killed in DV homicides in the last 30 years, do you know how many got restraining orders out on their offenders? Six. Six out of 54. Ms. Kreidman’s analysis is flawed.
If the problem is court congestion, then address that problem. Get more judges, have a dedicated court just to handle misdemeanor jury demand cases, think outside the box for goodness sake, but don’t throw domestic violence victims under the bus because you have an issue controlling court congestion.
I could go on with numerous other reasons why this bill made me cry. I’m angry — really angry — but mostly, I’m sad. Our state took a huge step backwards last week in domestic violence legislation.
The PUC’s order
I read the 60-plus pages of the Public Utilities Commission’s order denying Honua Ola Bioenergy’s motion for reconsideration.
I was struck by their phrase “the commission determined that Hu Honua’s (they used the old name) arguments do not meet the legal requirements for consideration.”
I’m not so sure these legal arguments merit the denial to our public of cleaner air, jobs and the signings of tens of millions of dollars spent on importing coal and oil to Hawaii. Which, by the way, these millions could be used for our infrastructure, or better yet off setting the cost to produce energy.
Meanwhile, our existing utility companies are spewing tonnes of pollutants in our air daily, weekly, year after year. This imported oil is dug up somewhere in the world, trucked or piped to a port, loaded on a tanker ship, shipped to Honolulu, unloaded to a barge, and shipped over to Hawaii Island. What kind of carbon footprint is that!
Oh, and the state does not even require smog checks on our vehicles! I don’t see any letters against the smog.
I’m perplexed that our state PUC and selective environmentalists are apparently OK with the “legal arguments” supporting all this.
Take the “public” out of PUC — it’s just a utilities commission.