Report Title:

Auto Theft

Description:

Establishes the Hawaii automobile theft prevention authority under the department of the attorney general to prevent, combat, and reduce auto theft.

THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

2138

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2004

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

RELATING TO AUTO THEFT.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. In the year 2002, a total of 9,910 automobiles were reported stolen in Hawaii and only 5,587 automobiles were recovered. The majority of the automobile thefts occurred in the city and county of Honolulu, where a total of 8,488 automobile thefts were reported and only 4,599 automobiles were recovered. The 3,889 vehicles which were not recovered in 2002 are estimated to have cost the residents of the city and county of Honolulu and the insurance industry approximately $25,846,294. The National Insurance Crime Bureau ranks Hawaii as twenty-fifth in the nation in terms of vehicle theft, based on the numbers of vehicles reported stolen per 100,000 population, in its annual Hot Spot Ratings. For the year 2003, the city and county of Honolulu is expecting another banner year of increased auto thefts.

Currently Michigan and twelve other states have enacted legislation for the creation of automobile theft prevention authorities to combat the significant escalation of automobile thefts. Because of the success of the Michigan model in reducing vehicular thefts and controlling rising automobile insurance costs, other states with high automobile theft rates are actively pursuing similar legislation.

The success of the Michigan Automobile Theft Authority indicates that creation of an authority is the single most effective legislative means of controlling and reducing auto theft. The model bill, patterned after the Michigan and Illinois laws, would create a nine-member board appointed by the governor. Funding would be based on a $2 per car per year assessment for all auto insurance policies, including self-insurers. Since funding of the authority is based on all vehicles, any increases of the $2 assessment would require legislative action.

The creation of an automobile theft prevention authority in Hawaii will help in controlling vehicle crime because it has a proven track record of reducing vehicle thefts and controlling rising auto insurance costs in those states such as Michigan that have similar legislation. This law will also help in reducing auto theft rates.

The purpose of this Act is to create an automobile theft prevention authority.

SECTION 2. Chapter 28, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"Part   . AUTOMOBILE THEFT PREVENTION AUTHORITY

28- Purpose. The purpose of this part is to establish, coordinate and fund activities in this State to prevent, combat, and reduce automobile theft; to improve and support automobile theft, law enforcement and administration, and to improve and support automobile theft prosecution.

28-   Definitions. As used in this part, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

"Authority" means the automobile theft prevention authority.

"Automobile" includes any vehicle which is self-propelled or propelled by electric power, including any airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or other motor-propelled vehicle, but excludes any vehicle which is operated upon rails or is a moped.

"Chief of police" means the duly appointed police chief for the counties of Kauai, Honolulu, Maui, and Hawaii.

"Director of motor vehicles" means the administrator of motor vehicles and licensing division with reference to the city and county of Honolulu, and the director of finance with reference to the other counties.

"Representative of the insurance industry" means an employee of a insurance company license to sell automobile insurance in Hawaii.

"National insurance crime bureau" means the special agent responsible for the investigating of insurance fraud and automobile thefts in the State.

"Person appointed by the governor" means an insurance consumer residing in Hawaii.

"Trust fund" means the automobile theft prevention trust fund.

28-   Automobile theft prevention authority; establishment. (a) There is created the automobile theft prevention authority within the department of the attorney general for administrative purposes. The authority shall be comprised of nine members, as follows:

(1) The chief of police of each county police department in the State or their designee;

(2) A director of motor vehicles or designee to be selected amongst the counties by the attorney general;

(3) The attorney general of the State of Hawaii or designee;

(4) One person appointed by the governor;

(5) One representative of the insurance industry; and

(6) One representative of the national insurance crime bureau.

(b) The authority shall meet at least quarterly and the term of each board member shall be staggered, as follows:

(1) Each chief of police or designee shall serve a term of four years;

(2) The director of motor vehicle or designee selected in accordance with subsection (a) shall serve a term of three years;

(3) The person appointed by the governor shall serve a term of two years;

(4) The representative of the insurance industry shall serve a term of one year; and

(5) The national insurance crime bureau representative

shall serve a term of four years.

(c) Members of the authority shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses, including travel expenses, necessary for the performance of their duties.

28-   Powers, duties, and responsibilities of the authority.

The authority shall have the following powers, duties, and responsibilities:

(1) Employ administrative, professional, clerical, and other personnel as may be required and organize the staff as appropriate, including but not limited to naming the chairperson and hiring a staff accountant, an administrative assistant, investigators assigned to the commercial auto theft unit of the several counties, and any other personnel deemed necessary;

(2) Administer the automobile theft prevention trust fund, and other funding that are made available to the authority from any source consistent with the purposes of this part;

(3) Make grants and provide financial support to governmental agencies, community, consumer, and business organizations consistent with the purpose of this part;

(4) Access the scope of the problem of automobile theft, including identification of those areas in the State where the problem is greatest, and review state and local criminal justice policies, programs, and plans dealing with automobile theft;

(5) Develop, sponsor, and implement statewide plans, programs, and strategies to combat auto theft, improve the administration of the automobile theft laws, and provide a forum for identification of critical problems for those persons dealing with automobile theft;

(6) Coordinate the development, adoption, and implementation of plans, programs, and strategies relating to interagency and intergovernmental cooperation with respect to automobile theft law enforcement;

(7) Adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 for the proper administration of the trust fund, including but not limited to expenditures of moneys, in order to assist and support those agencies, units of government, and other organizations charged with the responsibility of reducing automobile theft or interested and involved in achieving this goal;

(8) Audit at its discretion the plans and programs that it has funded in whole or in part in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs, and withdraw funding should the authority determine that a plan or program is ineffective or is no longer in need of further financial support from the fund;

(9) Report annually, not later than the first week of the end of the first week of January, to the governor and the legislature on the activities of the authority and the trust fund in the preceding calendar year; and

(10) Exercise any other powers that are reasonable and necessary to fulfill its responsibilities, and carry out and effectuate the objectives and purposes of this part.

28-   Automobile theft prevention trust fund. (a) A special fund is created in the state treasury to be known as the automobile theft prevention trust fund. The trust fund shall be administered by the authority. All interest earned from the investment or deposit of moneys accumulated in the trust fund shall be deposited in the trust fund. Moneys deposited in the trust fund shall not be considered as general revenue of the State of Hawaii and shall be used only to effectuate the purposes of this part as determined by the authority, and shall be subject to audit by the auditor.

(b) Moneys in the trust fund shall be derived from:

(1) Motor vehicle auto theft prevention fees under section 249-31; and

(2) Auto theft insurer assessments under section 431:10C-  .

(c) Moneys in the trust fund shall be expended by the authority to pay the cost of administration of the authority and of the trust fund, including but not be limited to providing financial support:

(1) To law enforcement, correctional agencies, and prosecutors for programs designed to reduce automobile theft and to improve the administration of automobile theft laws;

(2) For other governmental agencies, community, consumer, and business organizations for programs designed to reduce automobile theft and to improve the administration of automobile theft laws;

(3) For programs designed to inform owners of automobiles about the cost of automobile theft to individuals and to society, and to suggest methods for preventing automobile theft; and

(4) For other plans, programs, and strategies consistent with the purposes of this part.

(d) If the trust fund is dissolved by operation of law, then any balance remaining in the trust fund, after deducting administrative costs for termination of the fund, shall be deposited into the general fund.

28-   Immunity. In the absence of malice, no member of the authority and no employee of the authority shall be subject to any civil or criminal liability for receiving or disclosing information related to automobile theft. Persons or organizations, if acting without malice, shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability for providing information, including filing a report, furnishing oral or written evidence, or giving testimony concerning suspected, anticipated, or completed automobile thefts to a court, the authority, any federal, state, or county law enforcement or regulatory agency, or any insurer if the information is provided only for the purpose of preventing, investigating, or prosecuting auto thefts, except if the person commits perjury."

SECTION 3. Chapter 431, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to article 10C to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"431:10C-   Auto theft insurer assessment. Each insurer licensed to issue a motor vehicle insurance policy, including self-insurers under this article, as a condition of its authorization to transact a motor vehicle insurance business in this State, shall pay annually by June 30 of each year an auto theft insurer assessment in an amount equal to the product of $2.00 per vehicle insured by the insurer, multiplied by the insurer's total earned car years of automobile insurance policies issued or renewed in this State during the preceding calendar year.

The insurance division, after collection of the auto theft insurer assessment, shall pay the moneys as received into the automobile theft prevention fund under section 28-   ."

SECTION 4. Section 249-31, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"249-31 State registration fee. All vehicles and motor vehicles in the State as defined in section 249-1, including antique motor vehicles, except as otherwise provided in sections 249-3 to 249-6 shall be subject to a $20 annual vehicle registration fee[.] and a motor vehicle auto theft prevention fee of $2.00. The [fee] fees shall become due and payable on January 1, and shall be paid before April 1 in each year together with all other taxes and fees levied by this chapter; provided that should any county elect to renew motor vehicle registrations on a staggered basis as authorized by section 286-51, the state registration for that county shall likewise be staggered so that the state registration fee is due and payable at the same time and shall be collected together with the county fee. The state registration fee and the motor vehicle auto theft prevention fee shall be deemed delinquent if not paid with the county registration fee. The respective counties shall collect [this fee] the state registration fee and the motor vehicle auto theft prevention fee together with the vehicle registration tax collected for the county and shall transfer the moneys collected under this section, except the motor vehicle auto theft prevention fee, to the State to be paid into the state highway fund. The motor vehicle auto theft prevention fee shall be paid into the automobile theft prevention fund under section 28-  ."

SECTION 5. Upon the repeal of this Act, all unexpended and unencumbered balances remaining in the automobile theft prevention trust fund established pursuant to this Act shall be transferred to the credit of the general fund.

SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect on January 1, 2005; and shall be repealed on December 31, 2009; provided that section 249-31, Hawaii Revised Statutes, shall be reenacted to the form in which it read on December 31, 2004.

INTRODUCED BY:

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