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New Year, new laws: How ranked-choice voting could be used on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — With the beginning of the new year comes the enactment of a spate of new laws passed during the historic 2022 state legislative session.

Among the new measures that took effect on Jan. 1, 2023, is Act 47, which established ranked-choice voting in special federal elections or special elections of vacant Kaua‘i County Council seats.

Though it only applies in limited circumstances, there is a scenario in which the new voting method could be used on Kaua‘i very soon.

Last week, state Rep. Jimmy Tokioka (a Democrat who represents portions of the Eastside) resigned his state house position to join Gov. Josh Green’s administration.

His seat will be filled in the next two months, based on a decision from the local Democratic Party and Green. If an active county council member is tapped for Tokioka’s role, this would trigger the state’s first ranked-choice special election to fill the empty council seat.

This is a distinct possibility, since one politician seeking the role is Council Member Luke Evslin. Evslin, who has served on the County Council for four years and was the top vote-getter in the 2022 election, expressed interest in the position to The Garden Island on Friday.

Under the ranked-choice system, voters choose a series of candidates based on preference. All first-choice votes are then counted and the candidate who received the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose that candidate then have their vote passed to their second choice. This process continues until one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

Ranked choice voting allows voters to have a broader choice in electing their representatives, encourages more candidates to try for office, and could eliminate the need for time-consuming and expensive primaries.

Another significant law took effect in October 2022, as the minimum wage was raised from $10.10 to $12 an hour.

This was the first step in a slow minimum wage increase to $18 an hour by 2028. It will next increase to $14 an hour in January 2024.

A list of some of the most notable laws that took effect with the ringing in of the New Year were provided below by Speaker of the House Scott Saiki:

w Act 15, Senate Bill 2376 — Relating to Tobacco Taxes

Repeals and eliminates the deferred payment purchase option for cigarette tax stamps. Requires licensees to pay for stamps at the time of purchase using cash, certified check or bank transfer.

w Act 49, Senate Bill 2185 — Relating to Fireworks

Requires the auditor to review fireworks and pyrotechnic records for each county fire department and submit to the Legislature an annual report detailing inventory, record keeping and sales of fireworks to license or permit holders.

w Act 56, House Bill 1619 — Relating to Peer-to-Peer Car-Sharing Insurance Requirements

Establishes provisions relating to peer-to-peer insurance coverage.

w Act 58, House Bill 2111 — Relating to Insurance

Establishes provisions relating to care obligation of insurers and producers.

w Act 62, House Bill 2272 — Relating to Condominium Associations

Amends provisions relating to contents of declarations under condominiums laws.

w Act 88, Senate Bill 2279 — Relating to Catalytic Converters

Regulates the purchase of catalytic converters by used motor vehicle parts dealers and palladium, platinum and rhodium by scrap dealers and recyclers. Subjects persons who violate related provisions to a class C felony. Establishes the felony offense of theft of catalytic converter.

w Act 94, Senate Bill 3165 — Relating to Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of an Intoxicant

Amends provisions relating to operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant under use of intoxicants while operating a vehicle law.

w Act 141, House Bill 1102 — Relating to Litter Control

Prohibits the intentional outdoor release of balloons inflated with a gas that is lighter than air.

w Act 159, Senate Bill 2679 — Relating to Driver’s Licenses

Extends the renewal period from two years to four years for licensees who are 72 years of age or older but younger than 80 years of age.

w Act 161, Senate Bill 3121 — Relating to Funding for Parking for Disabled Persons

Establishes an Accessible Parking Special Account within the Disability and Communication Access Board Special Fund. Increases the state annual vehicle registration fee by $1 and requires that $1 from each annual vehicle registration fee be deposited into the Accessible Parking Special Account.

w Act 165, House Bill 1475 — Relating to Mandatory Ethics Training

Requires state legislators and employees to complete mandatory live or online ethics training courses every four years, subject to certain requirements.

w Act 217, House Bill 1982 — Relating to Taxes

Establishes provisions relating to withholding of tax by persons claiming the motion picture, digital media and film production income tax credit under the general excise tax law.

w Act 283, Senate Bill 555 — Relating to Campaign Fundraising

Prohibits elected state and county officials from holding any fundraiser event to raise contributions for which any price is charged or any contribution is suggested for attendance during a regular session or special session of the state Legislature.

w Act 286, Senate Bill 3085 — Relating to the Hawai‘i Code of Military Justice

Adopts a new Hawai‘i Code of Military Justice to promote order and discipline in the state military forces by fostering an independent military justice system and updating nonjudicial punishment and court martial procedures.

w Act 298, House Bill 1688 — Relating to Registration of Vehicles

Subjects U-drive motor vehicles to the same motor vehicle registration fees as other motor vehicles. Authorizes the counties to use certain motor vehicle registration fees to mitigate and address the impacts of tourism-related traffic congestion.

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Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or gscrimgeour@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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