- 1 Ways to Resist
- 2 Updates
- 3 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Ways to Resist
Contact your elected officials:
- Governor, David Ige (D) 
- Lieutenant Governor, Shan Tsutsui (D) 
- Speaker of the House, Joseph Souki (D) 
- Get involved with local organizations.
- Find organizations with state and local presences working in your area.
- Check out our Tools of Resistance.
- Look for upcoming state and local events.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Hawaii lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- No bills have been identified
Harmful bills proposed by Hawaii lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- HSB 2717 Relating To The Right To Work Bill. The bill would allow the state to prohibit unions, that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers, from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. They are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you are registered to vote.
- Senator Mazi Hirono (D) up for reelection in 2018 
- Governor's race in 2018; Democratic incumbent 
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 50,000 people in Hawaii (or 3.5% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 86,000 people (or 6% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/26/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- Hawaii is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.. If there is a full repeal, then it is projected that in 2021 Hawaii will have 154,000 people uninsured, which is a 76% increase over the percentage who would be uninsured in 2021 without repeal. (Retrieved from Table A1 at .)
- Native Hawaiians are particularly vulnerable because they are not as likely to access health care, and because the poverty rate for native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders is 20%.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 7,000 jobs could be lost in Hawaii. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono voted to keep the ACA.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay Strategy, young adults in Hawaii could pay $691 more in 2018.
- 20 people have been killed by police in the state of Hawaii from the years 2013 through 2016.
- 5% of the people killed by police were black.
- Black people are 3.1 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.
- Honolulu is the state's largest city with the highest rate of police killings per capita.
- Hawaii police killed twice the number of people in 2016 than they did in 2015.
Policy Solutions / Issues
Hawaii lawmakers are currently considering a number of bills to address police violence and improve police accountability. They include:
- HB 149 — Regulates the use of body-worn cameras and footage.
- HB 171 — Reforms the state’s asset forfeiture provisions to ensure that property cannot be forfeited until after a conviction.
- HB 383 — Sets rules for body cameras and vehicle-mounted cameras. The measure would appropriate funds to help counties purchase equipment.
- HB 456 — Would change the public records law to disclose an officer’s name if they are suspended for the second time in a five-year period.
- HB 681 — Citizen complaints against officers involved in allegations of domestic violence or family abuse would not have to be done in writing or sworn to by the complainant.
- HB 682 — Requires county police commissions to have at least three commissioners with backgrounds in equality for women, civil rights and law enforcement.
- SB 243 — Requires police commissions and departments to establish implicit bias and cultural sensitivity training. Also requires crisis intervention training for officers who interact with people with mental disabilities.
- SB 263 — Repeals the public records exemption for certain information regarding police officer misconduct. Requires that the names of all suspended or discharged county officers be revealed to the Legislature in annual reports.
- SB 311 — Prohibits law enforcement from racial profiling when pulling someone over. Appropriates funds for annual training for state and county law enforcement.
- SB 323 — Requires a preliminary hearing for cases in which law enforcement officers are charged with a felony.
- SB 331 — Regulates the use of body-worn cameras and footage.
- SB421 — Sets guidelines for the use of body cameras and vehicle-mounted cameras. Appropriates funds for police departments.
- SB 424 — Would change the public records law to disclose an officer’s name if they are suspended for the second time in a five-year period.
- SB 519 — Citizen complaints against officers involved in allegations of domestic violence or family abuse would not have to be done in writing or sworn to by the complainant.
- SB 520 — Requires county police commissions to have at least three commissioners with backgrounds in equality for women, civil rights and law enforcement.
- SB 557 — Would allow for public access to disciplinary records of county police officers who are suspended for misconduct.
- SB 566 — Creates a working group to help the Legislature set hiring standards for police officers. Prevents any person terminated for misconduct from a state or county agency from being hired by another state or county law enforcement agency.
- SB 567 — Would prohibit the court from expunging an officer’s criminal record for deferred acceptance of guilty plea or no contest plea if their offense was committed in the performance of their duties.
- SB 569 — Sets public disclosure requirements for body cameras.
- SB 597 — Requires that anyone appointed as the state sheriff have at least five years of law enforcement experience.
- SB 816 — Reforms the state’s asset forfeiture provisions to ensure that property cannot be forfeited until after a conviction.
- SB 1038 — Repeals the public records exemption for certain information regarding police officer misconduct.
- As of 2013, 17.6% of Hawaii's population was foreign-born.
- Unauthorized immigrants made up roughly 2.4% of the population of Hawaii in 2013.
- Immigration boosts housing values. From 2000 to 2010, immigration added $1,728 to the price of the average home in Honolulu.
- From 2006 to 2010, there were 15,997 new immigrant business owners in Hawaii, and they had a net total business income of $772 million, comprising 19.8% of all net business income in the state.
- In 2010, 22.5% of all business owners in Hawaii were foreign-born.
- In 2013, immigrants comprised 20.5% of the Hawaiian workforce, roughly 150,000 workers.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Unauthorized immigrants in Hawaii cannot obtain a driver's license.
- Hawaii's public universities offer in-state tuition rates to unauthorized immigrants.
- Unauthorized immigrants made up roughly 3.7% of Hawaii's workforce in 2012, numbering about 25,000 workers.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Hawaii, the state would lose $2 billion in economic activity, $900.3 million in gross state product, and approximately 8,460 jobs.
No counties or cities in Hawaii have adopted specific "sanctuary" practices to protect immigrants from ICE detainer orders.
According to State Department data, three refugees were resettled in Hawaii in 2016.
Hawaii allows same-day voter registration at absentee locations and allows 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. Hawaii is currently considering legislation to automatically register to vote any eligible individual who applies for a driver's license or state identification card.
- Hawaii had 3,663 incarcerated people in 2014, all in prison.
- 21,576 were on probation in 2014 and 1,647 individuals were on parole.
- 11.6% of the incarcerated population is serving life sentences in Hawaii, and 1.3% of the population is serving life sentences without possibility of parole.
- White, black, and Hispanic imprisonment rates (per 100,000) were, respectively, 246, 585, and 75.
- 0.57% of the Hawaii population was disenfranchised due to felony convictions in 2016, compared to 1.13% of the black Hawaii population.
- Hawaii spent $222 million on corrections in 2014.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Hawaii residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 28,000
- Adults and children: 89,000
- Children: 55,000
- In 2015, an average of 95,545 households and 188,895 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Hawaii. In 2011, approximately 12% of the population of Hawaii was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per Hawaii household was $443 per household and $225 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 18,066 households, including 6,425 families and 12,322 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single-parent with three children residing in Hawaii was $610 in 2014. Average benefits in Hawaii have fallen in value by 43.8% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 7,270 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 5,698 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category receiving an average of $436.46 per person, for a total of $2,487,000.
- 50,000 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing. 
- In 2014, Hawaii had 36 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Hawaii, there were 7,921 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 805 families, 670 veterans, 283 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 1,949 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Hawaii received $197 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Hawaii, more than 19,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Hawaii households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 43.9% of Hawaii’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 49% of Hawaii’s roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $515 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor Daniel Y. Ige (D), increased broadband access is a major infrastructure goal for Hawaii.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Hawaii has two Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, one center was in a rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage area.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 133,500 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were 29 abortion providers in Hawaii in 2015.
- In 2014, 15.7 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Hawaii had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- Medical abortion is limited.
Women and Wages
- In Hawaii, 10.3% of women live in poverty. Single mothers make up 26.2%, while women aged 65 and older make up 8.1%. These figures are below the national averages, which are 36.5% and 10.3%, respectively.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.84, which is four cents above the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.73 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.67 for every dollar made by white men. Both figures are above the national averages, which are $0.63 and $0.54, respectively.
Domestic Violence in Hawaii
- Asian and Pacific Islander communities experience domestic violence at much higher rates than the general population. 40-61% of Asian women report experiencing domestic violence, as compared to 20% for white, African-american and Latino communities.
- In Hawaii in a single day, domestic violence programs served 505 victims.
- 41% of Hawaii domestic violence programs reported being underfunded, understaffed or both.
- In Hawaii, 1 in 7 women have been raped in their lifetime.
Religious Freedom Law
Hawaii does not have religious freedom laws. Religious Freedom laws protect the right of people to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states have attempted to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Hawaii has passed nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and state employment, but lacks nondiscrimination laws in education, adoption, foster care, insurance, credit and jury selection.
Hawaii has passed laws granting parental presumption and de facto parent recognition for same-sex couples. However, it does not protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in surrogacy and foster care, and lacks laws on second-parent adoption. Hawaii does not have laws on consent to inseminate, either (meaning that in case of the insemination of one member of a female same-sex couple, the partner not carrying the child is not automatically recognized as parent).
Hate crime laws
Hawaii does include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group, and requires reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Hawaii has passed anti-bullying laws covering cyberbullying and enumerating model policies, but they do not explicitly mention LGBTQ+ youth. It does not have laws promoting transgender inclusion in sports, nor laws requiring school suicide prevention policies or protecting LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy (though the latter could be considered in 2017). The state does not have laws addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, nor promoting inclusive sex education or juvenile justice policies. Hawaii still has a different age of consent for same-gender couples..
Health and Safety
Hawaii does not include LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections in ACA exchanges, but does ban insurance exclusion for trans health care. It has exclusions from state Medicaid for transgender health care and does not provide inclusive health benefits for trans state employees. Hawaii does, however, allow gender marker changes on drivers’ licenses and birth certificates, and collects information on LGBTQ+ health.
- Hawaii is ranked 19th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $6,949 per student.
- As of 2013, Hawaii ranked 20th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $54,300 per year.
- 79% of students in Hawaii attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 66% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 5.3% of total public school enrollment.
- Hawaii's overall graduation rate is at the national average of 82%, which is slightly above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 87%
- Latino: 76%
- Black: 76%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 83%
- American Indian: 72%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 78%
- Limited English Proficient: 53%
- Students with Disabilities: 59%
Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- Hawaii’s minimum wage is $9.25, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 but lower than Hawaii’s living wage of $14.23.
- Hawaii has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Hawaii has no state law for paid family leave.
- Hawaii is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason, with no adverse legal consequences.
- Hawaii also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Hawaii does allow for implied contract exemptions. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Hawaii does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- More than 82% of Hawaii’s electricity generation comes from fossil fuels, but 17% comes from renewable geothermal energy. Hawaii is the first state to legally commit to 100% renewable energy, a target it hopes to make by 2045.
- Hawaii has three sites on the National Priorities List.
- In 2014, the Black and Asian or Pacific Islander populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—29 (Black) and 30 (Asian or Pacific Islander)—compared to an overall index of 26 and a White index of 21.
- In 2012, Latino adults in Hawaii were most likely to have asthma (15.1%), compared to 9.4% overall and 7.9% of the White population.
- Residents in the historically industrialized transportation town of Panaewa on the island of Hawaii are protesting the construction of a new mulching facility, over environmental justice concerns.
- The proposed Ala Wai Canal Project aims to increase the flooding capacity of a major (and majorly polluted) watershed, listed as an impaired water body under the Clean Water Act.
- The relevant environmental agencies in Hawaii are the Office of Environmental Quality Control (under the Department of Health) and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
- In 2014, the state of Hawaii passed the Hawaii Climate Adaptation Initiative Act, creating a statewide climate council to guide climate action until 2050.
- In the fall of 2016's general election, Oahu passed Charter Amendment 7, creating the new office of Climate Change. The office will address climate change's impacts on the island, as well as create a task force and monitor climate models.
- In 2013, Hawaii became the first subnational government to sign the Pacific Islands' Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership.
- 11% of Hawaiians live with a disability.
- 75% of Hawaiians with disabilities are not in the labor force, as compared to 30% of Hawaiians without a disability.
- 27% of Hawaiians with a disability lived below 150% of the federal poverty line during the last year, as compared to 15% of Hawaiians without a disability.
- 60% of Hawaiians experiencing homelessness also live with a mental illness.
- 44,000 Hawaiian adults live with a serious mental illness.
- Hawaii's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is the agency of choice for individuals with disabilities seeking to obtain or maintain integrated or competitive employment. DVR seeks to establish private-sector employer partnerships while equipping employees with disabilities with the tools that they need to maintain self-sufficiency.
- Under Hawaii's Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA), Hawaiians with disabilities who receive social security (SSI) benefits and are working or seeking employment are entitled to counseling and employment planning services through Community Work Incentives Coordinators.
- Hawaii's Assisted Outpatient Treatment Law (Act 221) enables individuals with mental illness or other disabilities to receive community-based treatment through family courts, as an alternative to incarceration or forced hospitalization.
- The Ohana Health Plan provides mental health services to Medicaid-eligible Hawaiians.
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
Environmental justice groups
- Blue Planet Foundation
- Hawaii Conservation Alliance
- Hawai’i Peace & Justice
- Sierra Club
- Surfrider Foundation
- 350 Hawaii
Disability Rights Organizations
- The Arc in Hawaii (advisory: music autoplays at this link)
- Hawaii ADRC, Aging and Disability Resource Center