HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
State of Hawaii
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2001
Contact: Rep. Marcus Oshiro
LEGISLATURE RAISES AGE OF CONSENT TO 16 IN SPECIAL SESSION
Override of gubernatorial veto the first since Statehood
The State Legislature today overwhelmingly voted to overturn Governor Ben Cayetano's veto of House Bill 236, which raises the age of sexual consent to 16 years from the current 14. It was the first legislative override of a gubernatorial veto since Hawaii became a state in 1959.
In the House of Representatives, the vote was a unanimous 48 ayes with three members absent. In the 25-member Senate, there was one dissenting vote with one member excused.
House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro said that despite the unanimous approval, "it was a very difficult matter for House members because of the raw emotions surrounding the issue and the merits of the Governor's concerns."
During floor discussion, those concerns were also raised by Rep. Nestor Garcia (D - Waipahu, Crestview), who said he likes the bill's provision for a task force to study the issue and the bill's three-year sunset date. "But I am troubled by the penalties, which are too severe for some situations."
Former Speaker Joe Souki (D - Waiehu, Maalaea), said he hopes the community can rely on earlier statements made by the Honolulu City Prosecutor's office to use the highest discretion and sensitivity when prosecuting such cases involving only teenagers.
The Legislature's action means the new law takes effect immediately.