2019 Legislative Session – Notable Bills

Over 3,000 bills were introduced in the House and Senate, but less than 300 bills will make it into law. Here are some themes from this year’s Legislative Session with bills that will be sent to the Governor to be vetoed or become law.

  1. Decriminalization – Criminal Justice Reform
    • HB 1383: Marijuana Decriminalization
      • This bill provides for the expungement of criminal records pertaining solely to the possession of three grams or less of marijuana. Decriminalizes the possession of three grams or less of marijuana and establishes that the possession is a violation punishable by a monetary fine of $130. Establishes a marijuana evaluation task force to make recommendations on changing marijuana use penalties and outcomes in the State.
    • SB 1539: Criminal Pretrial
      • This bills codifies the right to a prompt bail hearing upon formal charge and detention. Establishes right to counsel at the bail hearing.
    • SB 192: Unsecure Bail
      • Authorizes the court to release a defendant in custody on unsecured bail.

  2. Election Reform
    • SB 216: Mandatory Recount
      • This bill requires a mandatory recount of election votes and ballot measures when the margin of victory for election contests or tabulation for ballot measures is equal to or less than one hundred or one-quarter of one per cent of the votes cast, whichever is greater.
    • HB 1248: All-Mail Voting
      • This bill enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail-in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program. Requires the Office of Elections to submit a report to the legislature before the convening of each regular session from 2020 through 2025, regarding the implementation of a vote by mail system.

  3. Hemp and Medical Cannabis 
    • HB 1353: Hemp
      • This bill requires the Department of Agriculture to establish a permanent industrial hemp program pursuant to federal law, and a corresponding special fund. Reduces or repeals certain regulatory requirements under the existing industrial hemp pilot program. Establishes monetary penalties for the unauthorized cultivation of hemp. Establishes authorized cultivation of hemp as an affirmative defense to certain criminal offenses pertaining to marijuana. Excludes hemp from statutory definitions of marijuana. Requires the Chairperson of the Board of Agriculture to prepare a state plan for approval by the federal Secretary of Agriculture and report on the approval process to the Legislature and Governor. Appropriates funds.
    • HB 290: Transportation of Cannabis – Inter island
      • This bill authorizes qualifying patients or qualifying out-of-state patients to transport medical cannabis between islands for their personal medical use.
    • HB 673: Transfer of License
      • This bill provides a process for the voluntary or involuntary sale or transfer of an individual dispensary license. Eases restrictions on allowable operating hours and location of licensed facilities. Expands allowable interisland transportation of medical cannabis products for laboratory testing.
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