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Law Changes Coming to Hawaii in 2021


In most instances, law changes are made for the good of the people in an effort to provide protection from harm, discrimination, or negligent or criminal parties. As a resident of Hawaii, it’s imperative to be up-to-date on all the latest law changes and additions, so you’re fully aware of your legal rights and options—especially in the event you’re harmed.

While laws can change at multiple points throughout the year, we often look to the start of a new year to see when some of the biggest changes will take place. While some laws may only affect corporations or businesses or a small number of individuals based on their circumstances, others have the potential to affect residents on a state-wide basis.

As we near 2021, we’ll be seeing changes regarding pickup truck safety requirements, employers’ ability to consider criminal history when hiring, a strict ban on plastic on Oahu, and changes to minor-initiated mental health treatment and counseling.

Pickup Truck Safety Requirements

In 2015, three men were killed while riding in the back of a pickup truck on Maui. The victims were ejected from the truck when an oncoming vehicle sideswiped the truck. At the time of the accident, Hawaii allowed passengers over the age of 12 to ride in the bed of a pickup truck if all the seats in the cab were filled. The only requirements involved the truck having secure side panels and the tailgate being closed.

This was not the first, nor the last, time fatalities occurred as a result of riding in the bed of a pickup truck. In an effort to reduce those fatalities and keep Hawaii residents safe, lawmakers are now requiring every pickup truck manufactured after December 31, 2021 that is sold, offered for sale, purchased, or operated to have a seat belt assembly in the bed.

The law also prohibits passengers from riding in the bed or load-carrying area of a pickup truck manufactured after December 31, 2021 without being restrained by a safety belt.

Limiting Employers’ Ability to Consider Criminal History When Hiring

Nationwide, 36 states and over 150 municipalities have adopted “ban the box” laws, which prohibit employers from asking applicants about their conviction or arrest records on initial employment applications. Hawaii is one of those states with the most recent updates.

Hawaii has one of the oldest laws that limit any employer’s ability to consider older conviction records in making hiring decisions. Hawaii SB 2193 prohibits most private sector employers from considering conviction records that are less than seven years old for felony convictions and less than five years old for misdemeanor convictions.

It’s important to note that periods of incarceration are excluded. Prior to this, the lookback period in Hawaii was ten years. This changed in an attempt to reduce instances of employment discrimination against individuals with old or minor conviction records. Law makers hope that reducing the lookback period will reduce crime and recidivism rates and encourage economic self-sufficiency.

Strict Ban on Plastic in Oahu

In order to comply with the strict ban on plastic in Oahu, businesses have to phase out their inventory by 2021. By 2022, plastic and styrofoam food ware will be banned. This includes cups, plates, and clamshell containers. The decision to begin the plastic ban was made on December 4, 2019, but officials gave businesses time to make the necessary changes. The ban also covers decorative green plastic pieces used in bento boxes.

There are, however, some exceptions. For example, pre-packaged foods are exempt from the ban and businesses have the option of applying for an exemption. In the event a business is granted an exemption on an item, the supplier of that item will also be exempt from the ban.

Confidentiality and Minor-Initiated Mental Health Treatment

Effective January 30, 2021, unlicensed mental health professionals, working under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional, can provide counseling or mental health treatment to minors without parental or legal guardian consent, knowledge, or participation.

This bill was first introduced on January 17, 2020. It was finalized on September 15. To abide by the new law, mental health professionals need to ensure that the covered entity has been notified that minor-initiated mental health treatment or counseling should not be disclosed in order to maintain the confidentiality of the minor-initiated treatment.

As we enter into 2021 and make our way through the year, it’s likely other new laws will be introduced. To stay up-to-date with the latest law changes in Hawaii, get in touch with Frost Law Firm, PC.

Our Experience Is Personal

Scott L. Frost’s Family Experience with Lung Cancer

For most of his life, Scott L. Frost’s father, who was in the construction industry, worked with and sold products containing asbestos without knowing the materials were dangerous. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 40 years after starting his career, leading Scott’s family to fight like they had never fought before.

Pictured here with his wife of over 50 years, Scott’s father eventually succumbed to the cancer. Since then, Scott has made it his mission to do everything in his power to make sure corporations understand how dangerous asbestos is and prevent future generations from suffering as his family did, as well as support research that may lead to finding a cure.

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