14 new state laws take effect on New Year's Day

14 new state laws take effect on New Year's Day

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On New Year's Day, two first-in-the-nation laws will take effect in the islands.

There's the law that raises the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21. And the law that requires open captioning – or captioning on screens – at movie theaters.

The two are among 14 Hawaii laws that will take effect Jan. 1.

And while the other new measures might not be as groundbreaking, you'll probably see – or feel – their impact in the new year.

For example, Act 172 creates a limited purpose driver's license, which requires proof of identity and Hawaii residency but not proof of legal presence in the United States or a Social Security card.

The law is meant to address the significant issues some populations have encountered since 2010 in meeting stricter federal requirements for getting a driver's license.

In testimony in support of the measure earlier this year, the Hawaii Appleseed Center said it's not just undocumented immigrants who have been unable to meet the stronger legal presence requirements. The poor, elderly, homeless and other populations have been disproportionately affected, the center said, because they don't have the proper paperwork.

"No one is safer when people on the road lack licenses and (states) have identified limited purpose licenses as an effective solution," the center said.

The licenses are "limited" because they don't meet the minimums for federal identification (required to board airplanes, for example), employment and benefits eligibility, and voting purposes.

Other new laws of note set to take effect New Year's Day: Act 166 allows for voter registration at absentee polling places. Act 97 does away with a state tax break for high-income filers. And Act 78 decreases the aggregate contribution (from $500 to $100) a candidate can get from 10 or more anonymous donors at the same political function.

Hawaii's new smoking law, Act 122, increases the minimum age from 18 to 21 for the "sale, possession, consumption or purchase" of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices.

The law makes Hawaii the first in the nation to raise the minimum smoking age to 21.

Because of its unique nature, state officials and police have agreed to begin enforcement of the law in April, giving people time to learn more about it.

Relatedly, Act 19 amends current law to prohibit the use of electronic smoking devices in places where smoking is currently prohibited (like restaurants and stores).

Meanwhile, the open captioning law, Act 39, requires theaters with more than two locations in the state to provide the service during at least two showings per week. Currently, cinemas offer closed captioning – at theaters, those who use closed captioning must wear special glasses to see the words on the screen.

Here are the other laws set to go into effect Jan. 1:

Act 93: Increases the transient accommodations tax imposed on resort time share vacation units by 1 percent each year to gradually achieve a rate of 9.25 percent of the fair market rental value.

Act 209: Strengthens reporting requirements for organizational reports, noncandidate reports and late contributions reports submitted by noncandidate committees making or receiving large contributions.

Act 121: Appropriates $35 million out of the Turtle Bay conservation easement special fund for the state to acquire a conservation easement and other real property at Turtle Bay. (Read more about the conversation deal here.)

Act 204: Makes changes to state taxation laws. Notably, authorizes the state to enforce civil penalties for operators and plan managers who don't display the certificate of registration and registration ID number for transient accomodations and resort time share vacation plans.

Act 40: Allows an ignition interlock permit holder to take necessary tests to apply for relicensing during the final 30 days of the revocation period.

Act 189: Prohibits the approval of an electronic device manufacturer's recycling plan that provides only a mail-back option for the collection, transportation, and recycling of the device.

Act 234: Adopts revisions to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' model laws on Credit for Reinsurance Model Act.


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