April 22, 2002
Contact: Rep. Marcus Oshiro
Phone: (808) 586-8505



Cemetery Vandalism Fines Increased

The House of Representatives today gave formal notice that it intends to agree with changes made by the State Senate to bills addressing housing assistance for the elderly and the disabled, as well as boosting the fines for grave desecration, according to House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro.

The House's decision to agree to the Senate's changes of House Bill 2445 and H.B. 2387 means the measures will not have to undergo conference committee deliberations, Oshiro said.

The original H.B. 2445 sought to assist the elderly and persons with disabilities by:

The Senate substituted similar language from an earlier Senate bill, and added changes proposed by HCDCH. The amended bill provides that an elderly household may include the elder's spouse or partner if the latter is at least 18 years old.

"Upon closer evaluation, we see the changes as improving upon the original House measure," Oshiro said. "This is the kind of compassionate and socially progressive legislation that has been the hallmark of Hawaii's Democrats. H.B. 2445 will truly enhance the quality of the lives for our elderly and disabled citizens."

Under current law, desecrating a grave is a misdemeanor. Oshiro said the House believes that the punishment is not severe enough to deter vandals and proposed in H.B. 2387 to upgrade the crime to a class C felony.

Even after hearing graphic testimony of desecration to graves perpetrated by vandals, the Senate elected to keep the crime as a misdemeanor but increased the maximum fine to $10,000 as a means to deter vandals, Oshiro said.

The House agreed to the Senate's changes, Oshiro said, because we need to move on to much bigger issues and because House members indicated they were "willing to see if simply increasing the fine is sufficient to deter vandals. If not, we'll revisit this issue next session."

The measures now await final approval by the Senate before being sent to the Governor for signature.

The Legislature is in its 54th day and is scheduled to adjourn on May 2.