by Andrew Walden (See updates below)
In the wake of the Isabella Kalua case, legislators are reintroducing bills requiring any injury to a foster child be reported in real time to a Family Court judge instead of being covered up internally by CWS.
SB 2422 and HB 2301 are modelled on a ‘protocol’ mandated in Oahu’s First Circuit Family Court by Family Court Chief Judge Robert Browning. According to Steve Lane, Special Master in the Peter Boy Kema case, Judge Browning’s protocol is not being obeyed by CWS workers and guardians ad litem even on Oahu. Injuries are alleged to have been recorded by CWS at least twice prior to Isabella Kalua’s disappearance.
A similar bill had been introduced in 2018. With no opposing testimony, the bill passed second reading in the Senate before dying due to refusal of a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee. As we all know, death by refusal of a committee hearing is a standard tactic to kill off a popular bill which impinges in the slightest way upon the HGEA.
HB 2301 is introduced by Rep Mark Nakashima, Chair of the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. The bill has a double referral to HHH and JHA. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
SB 2422 is introduced with the backing of Senators Keith-Agaran, Lee, Rhoads, and Dela Cruz. The bill has a double referral to HMS and JDC. It also has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
2022 will mark the 25th anniversary of Peter Boy’s death.
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UPDATE Feb 17, 2022: SB2422 Reported from HMS (Stand. Com. Rep. No. 2568) with recommendation of passage on Second Reading, as amended (SD 1) and referral to JDC/WAM.
SD1 amendment includes appropriation language (amount blank) “for fiscal year 2022-2023 for the Judiciary to compensate court-appointed masters appointed by a court pursuant to this Act.”
Testimony largely supportive but Judiciary testified in opposition.
HB2301 has not been heard in either of its assigned House Committees and will be dead as of ‘First Lateral’ Feb 18, 2022.
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UPDATE March 18, 2022: SB2422 SD2 passed Third Reading in the Senate with 24 ayes and one excused. In the House, Speaker Saiki gave SB2422 SD2 a triple referral to HHH, JHA, and FIN. Leadership uses triple referrals to kill bills. FIN always goes last. HHH and JHA did not act on HB2301 prior to the March 17, 2022, 'Triple Referral Filing' deadline. As a result, the bill is dead unless it is re-referred to two or fewer committees prior to the 'Second Lateral' deadline of March 24.