STAND. COM. REP. NO. 2537
RE: S.B. No. 2630
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Thirtieth State Legislature
Regular Session of 2020
State of Hawaii
Your Committees on Transportation and Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, to which was referred S.B. No. 2630 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO MONETARY OBLIGATIONS,"
beg leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to end punishing poverty by prohibiting the imposition of restrictions on a person's ability to obtain or renew a driver's license or to register, renew the registration of, or transfer or receive title to a motor vehicle, as a consequence of unpaid monetary obligations.
Your Committees received testimony in support of this measure from the Office of the Public Defender; Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, County of Kauai; Young Progressives Demanding Action; American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i; Parents and Children Together; Hawaii Children's Action Network Speaks!; and thirty-two individuals. Your Committees received comments on this measure from the Hawaii State Judiciary.
Your Committees find that existing law allows for the imposition of restrictions on an individual's ability to obtain or renew a driver's license or motor vehicle registration as a penalty for various unpaid monetary obligations that are civil and not criminal in nature. The most concerning reason for these punitive restrictions is the failure of an individual to pay within thirty days the fines and fees assessed in connection with non—parking related traffic tickets. Your Committees find that this practice of imposing driver's license or vehicle registration "stoppers" may also occur because of other unpaid civil obligations.
Your Committees further find that, according to a Washington Post investigation, more than seven million individuals nationwide have had their driver's licenses suspended for unpaid court or administrative debt. The investigation also found that Hawaii has a high percentage — nine percent — of adults who have had their licenses suspended for unpaid debt. Your Committees additionally find that the American Bar Association recently adopted guidelines on preventing fines and fees that penalize poverty. These guidelines instruct against driver's license suspensions and the imposition of fines that result in substantial and undue hardship. At least four states do not allow driver's licenses to be suspended or restricted for unpaid court debt.
Your Committees find that the inability to obtain or renew a driver's license prevents people who have not committed a crime from getting to work, picking up their children, keeping medical appointments, and ultimately from escaping debt. This measure will prohibit the imposition of restrictions on a person's ability to obtain or renew a driver's license or to register, renew the registration of, or transfer or receive title to a motor vehicle, because of unpaid monetary obligations. However, this Act shall not have any effect on driver's license suspensions related to excessive speeding, lack of motor vehicle insurance, or non—compliance with a child support order.
Your Committees note that through testimonies the Hawaii State Judiciary requested the measure's effective date be extended and that Section 10 be deleted. Your Committees request that the Judiciary Committee examines these issues further.
As affirmed by the records of votes of the members of your Committees on Transportation and Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs that are attached to this report, your Committees are in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 2630 and recommend that it pass Second Reading and be referred to your Committee on Judiciary.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committees on Transportation and Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs,
CLARENCE K. NISHIHARA, Chair
LORRAINE R. INOUYE, Chair