HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are several beautiful sites around the state that are on private property. And state lawmakers want to crack down on guidebooks and online sites that they claim are encouraging visitors to trespass to get there, and get hurt or killed in the process.
One of those sites is Kipu Falls on Kauai, which has been flooded with visitors since it was revealed in the "Hidden Kauai" guidebooks years ago. You have to hike through private property to get there, and over the years, dozens have been hurt or have died there.
"I don't think that's fair to the landowner because a lot of times when people get hurt or people die, they end up suing the landowner, and the landowner has tried to do everything they can to keep people away from private property, said Rep. James Tokioka (D-Lihue & Koloa), one of the sponsors of House Bill 548.
"What the bill does is if they (publishers) actively, knowingly send them there, and people get hurt, they can be liable as well," said Tokioka. "And I think that could deter publications from sending people to places that they know are dangerous."
Tokioka and others claim that some guidebooks have done that by telling visitors how to get onto private property. "You have to go to some remote area. In some areas you have to climb over the fence or go around the boulders that are blocking you out, and that's knowingly and willingly sending someone to someplace that is very dangerous," he said.
Opponents contend that the proposal is a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
"This is simply information," said Andrew Doughty, the co-author of the "Ultimate Kauai Guidebook," one of the more popular and controversial books, in a 2006 interview. "Getting mad at information doesn't help."
"The Association of American Publishers urges the legislature to reject S.B. 1207 and its companion bills, and focus instead on alternative means of discouraging the trespassing that is the actual wrong for which a remedy is sought," association President Tom Allen said in a printed statement.
Others claim that the measure would discourage the publishing visitor guidebooks about the islands.
"At this point in time it appears to me that this bill could potentially inadvertently harm many industries by decreasing the exposure that we need to bring visitors to our islands," said George Thompson of Fathom Five Divers of Koloa, Kauai, in written testimony against the bill.
The house version of the bill has already passed a second reading and will go before the Water, Land and Ocean Resources Committee next week.