Honolulu, Hawaii


RE: S.B. No. 655

S.D. 1




Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Twenty-Ninth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2017

State of Hawaii




Your Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, to which was referred S.B. No. 655 entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


The purpose and intent of this measure is to allow the news media to access areas that are closed pursuant to the emergency management powers of the Governor and Mayors.


Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Big Island Press Club, All Hawaii News, Hawaii Association of Broadcasters, Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter, Life of the Island, and fifteen individuals. Your Committee received testimony in opposition to this measure from the Honolulu Fire Department, Kauai Fire Department, and Kauai Emergency Management Agency. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.


Your Committee finds that a freely functioning news media is essential for maintaining a free and open society. The news media serves the invaluable purpose of relaying necessary and timely information to the public. This media role is enhanced in an emergency or crisis situation. However, existing state laws do not ensure robust media access during emergency or crisis situations. Therefore, it is important to update these laws to ensure the maximum access possible for news media during emergency situations.


Your Committee acknowledges the concerns of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency regarding the potential liability of the parties involved and the necessary logistics and procedures that should be in place for allowing news media into areas under emergency management control.


Accordingly, your Committee has amended this measure by:


(1) Requiring that news media given access to areas under emergency management be credentialed and accompanied by emergency management personnel;


(2) Limiting the liability of the State and counties and establishing liability for media personnel;


(3) Providing that the designated emergency management authority in charge has the sole discretion in determining the access granted to media members in an affected area; and


(4) Inserting an effective date of May 22, 2050, to encourage further discussion.


As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 655, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 655, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Judiciary and Labor.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs,