Senate Bill 1267: Emergency Powers

Picture of the Hawaii state capitol

By: J. S.

Senate Bill 1267 is described as relating to emergency powers. The summary of the bill states that it “requires approval of the legislature or a county council to extend to a date certain, or deny the extension of, a proclamation of a state of emergency or local state of emergency timely requested by the governor or mayor beyond sixty days of its issuance, unless the legislature or county council fails to take action, in which case the state of emergency or local state of emergency is automatically extended for sixty days. Allows the authorization of the issuance of a separate proclamation arising from the same emergency or disaster as a previous proclamation that expired, upon request of the governor or mayor and adoption of a concurrent resolution by the legislature or resolution by the county council, as appropriate.” Hawaii Capitol website. Read Senate Bill 1267 in full here.

The bill was first introduced on January 27, 2021 and is currently at 25% progression. It was referred to the Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee on February 1 by Brian Taniguchi

The bill lists the state of emergency powers that the governor of Hawaii holds, including the following: 

“(a)  The governor may declare the existence of a state of emergency in the State by proclamation if the governor finds that an emergency or disaster has occurred or that there is imminent danger or threat of an emergency or disaster in any portion of the State.

(b)  A mayor may declare the existence of a local state of emergency in the county by proclamation if the mayor finds that an emergency or disaster has occurred or that there is imminent danger or threat of an emergency or disaster in any portion of the county.

(c)  Except as provided in subsections (d) and (f), the governor or mayor shall be the sole judge of the existence of the danger, threat, or circumstances giving rise to a declaration of a state of emergency in the State or a local state of emergency in the county, as applicable.  This section shall not limit the power and authority of the governor under section 127A-13(a)(5).”

The bill goes on to state that “a proclamation of a state of emergency shall terminate upon the earliest of the following:

     (1)  Automatically, sixty days after the issuance of the proclamation of a state of emergency;

     (2)  By the date that is less than sixty days as specified in the proclamation of a state of emergency; or

     (3)  By a separate and subsequent proclamation of the governor specifying another termination date within the sixty-day period identified in paragraph (1); provided that upon a request made by the governor to the legislature no less than twelve days prior to the expiration of the proclamation, the legislature may by concurrent resolution adopt an extension of the state of emergency to a date certain or deny any request for an extension of the state of emergency; provided further that if the legislature fails to take action on the governor’s request by a concurrent resolution before the expiration of the state of emergency, the state of emergency shall automatically be extended for sixty days.” Source.

The covid-19 related state of emergency in Hawaii was first proclaimed by Governor Ige on March 4, 2020. Since then the governor has made a total of 18 covid-19 related emergency proclamations, the latest issued on February 12, 2021. 

Each week we look at current House and Senate Bills in the Hawaii State Legislature. There are many useful and insightful resources available for citizens who are interested in learning about or engaging in Hawaii’s legislative process. Learn about current bills at capitol.hawaii.gov. Upon finding bills of interest, it is possible to read the full bill, follow the bill’s progression through the House and Senate, and submit testimony through this same website. An insightful resource for those looking to understand steps in the legislative process is A Citizen’s Guide to Participation in The Legislative Process, available on the capitol.hawaii.gov website.