Hawaii celebrates Juneteenth, the month of Kalaupapa
Governor David Ige on Wednesday signed five bills focused on recognizing and correcting inequalities in the state.
The five bills were split between two signing ceremonies, one involving a pair of bills commemorating important days and months, and the other introducing financial protections for vulnerable people.
The invoices were:
Senate Bill 697 designates each January as the month of Kalaupapa, in commemoration of the internment of people with Hansen’s disease – also known as leprosy – at Kalaupapa on Molokai.
Patients with Hansen’s disease first arrived in Kalaupapa in January 1866, Ige said, and January is also the birth month of Jozef De Veuster and Barbara Koob, who were eventually canonized by the Church. Catholic under the names of Saint Damien and Saint Marianne, respectively, after taking care of the needs of those interned at Kalaupapa.
“By dedicating January of each year to the month of Kalaupapa, we hope to inspire the people of Hawaii to remember the approximately 8,000 patients who have been sent to Kalaupapa,” said Ige. “And while many of them were separated from their families and sent to Kalaupapa against their will, the residents, despite the obstacles against them, came together to build a community of benevolence, respect and aloha for one another. for others and for the community at large. “
The month should not be interpreted as a holiday, according to the bill.
Senate Bill 939 designates June 19 of each year as June 19, in commemoration of the official end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865.
“With the national events that have occurred most recently over the summer, and the activity of George Floyd fresh in our collective minds, and a renewed call to tackle the systemic racism that results in racial injustice and l “Inequality across the country today, it is now more important and more timely than ever for Hawaii to recognize the African American experience in this country,” Ige said.
Samantha Neylund, Miss Hawaii USA 2020, said Hawaii has always been at the forefront of speaking out against racial injustice. Neylund, who launched a campaign last year calling for Hawaii to recognize Juneteenth, said that by “forever honoring and commemorating Juneteenth, we are helping move our society forward towards a more vibrant and inclusive Hawaii.”
Hawaii is the 49th state to recognize Juneteenth – also known as Freedom Day – and the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to make the date a federal holiday, pending President Joe Biden’s signature.
Under Senate Bill 939, Juneteenth should not be interpreted as a public holiday.
House Bill 940 requires people to notify authorities when they suspect financial abuse of the elderly and other vulnerable adults. It also provides immunity for good faith operating reports and allows for delays in disbursements and transactions in situations of suspected exploitation.
Kealii Lopez, director of AARP Hawaii, said the bill gives the state more power to investigate potential cases of abuse.
“Many older people have worked hard to save money and plan for their future,” Lopez said. “Having someone take advantage of their trust and kindness by operating them is something Hawaii cannot stand. “
Senate Bill 793 repeals an exemption from state minimum wage requirements that allowed people with disabilities to receive less than minimum wage. Under the new law, all people with disabilities can be guaranteed at least a minimum wage.
“This is a law that … is now out of date, and it is one of those issues that is very discriminatory,” said Hilo rep Richard Onishi. “I am proud that the legislature is making an effort to review how we are eliminating discriminatory measures in our revised Hawaii statutes.”
Payday loan reform
House Bill 1192 establishes consumer protections for installment loans – including the requirement for installment lenders to have licenses – and repeals the authorization for payday loans.
The bill places limits on installment loan factors such as interest rates, payment schedules and loan amount in an effort to protect residents from unscrupulous lenders, Ige said.
“(The bill) will benefit both consumers and payday lenders,” Ige said. “Consumers will be able to pay off small consumer loans in installments they can afford, while payday lenders will see an industry clean-up, and these good businesses in our community will be able to operate more fairly.” and appropriate. “
Email Michael Brestovansky at [email protected]