H.B. NO.














relating to emergency management.





SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the 2020 outbreak of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has brought renewed scrutiny to the state's emergency management statutes. The rapid worldwide expansion of the coronavirus triggered its characterization as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. The state's emergency management laws require updating to explicitly include pandemics and the related preparedness, response, and mitigation of the social and economic consequences.

Additionally, the legislature finds that the pandemic has given rise to a multitude of essential workers in various job sectors who, through the course of their work are required to relay and impose emergency rules and orders that have been enacted by the appropriate governmental authority. Emergency response measures to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through, for example, the use of face coverings or masks has placed great responsibility and risk on essential workers who have experienced harassment, intimidation, verbal abuse, and physical assault from members of the public who disagree with the government's order. While emergency workers are offered some statutory protections, essential workers are generally not protected under these provisions and specific statutory protection for this category of worker needs to be included in the state's emergency management laws.

The purpose of this act is to amend the emergency management laws to address pandemics and provide greater protections for essential workers.

SECTION 2. Chapter 127A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"127A-   Interference with an essential worker during an emergency. (a) A person commits the offense of interference with an essential worker if, during an emergency proclaimed by the governor or mayor pursuant to this chapter and within the area covered by the emergency or disaster, the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly harasses, intimidate, verbally abuses, or otherwise assaults the essential worker in the course of carrying out their duties.

(b) Interference with an essential worker is a class C felony; provided that if the interference involves assault it is a class B felony.

(c) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a separate criminal action being brought if applicable.

(d) For purposes of this section, "essential worker" means any person employed by a business or service in the air and ground transportation, construction, defense and law enforcement, energy, food and agriculture, grocery, healthcare, hospitality, information technology systems, telecommunications, retail, or water sectors. "Essential worker" includes any other person deemed essential by the governor or mayor during an emergency period."

SECTION 3. Section 127A-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending the definitions of "disaster relief", "emergency", "hazard", and "materials" to read as follows:

""Disaster relief" means any physical or financial assistance provided to individuals or areas in the aftermath of an emergency or disaster[.] and includes efforts to mitigate the social and economic consequences of the disaster.

"Emergency" means any occurrence, or imminent threat thereof, which results or may likely result in substantial injury or harm to the population or substantial damage to or loss of property[.] and includes a pandemic.

"Hazard" means an event or condition of the physical environment, including a pandemic, that results or may likely result in damage to property or injuries or death to individuals and which may result in an emergency or disaster.

"Materials" includes medicines, supplies, personal protective equipment, products, commodities, articles, equipment, machinery, and component parts."

SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.












Report Title:

Emergency Management; Pandemic; Essential Workers; Interference with an Essential Worker; Felony



Makes interfering with an essential worker during an emergency a felony. Defines essential worker.




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