Police chiefs in Hawaii will have to tell the Legislature how many officers were suspended or fired in a given year and the status of any disciplinary action, thanks to a bill the governor signed into law Friday.

The big boost to transparency comes after a Civil Beat series in 2013, In The Name of the Law, which scrutinized the secrecy and lack of accountability surrounding police misconduct.

In all, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed 16 bills Friday in the ceremonial room at his Capitol office, including those relating to revenge porn and energy management.

abercrombie signs bill

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signs one of five Hawaii energy-related bills at the executive office ceremonial room Friday.

Office of the Governor

Here are some of them:

Senate Bill 2591 (Law Enforcement Misconduct) gives more transparency to police misconduct cases by lengthening the retention time of disciplinary records and increasing detail in annual reports.

The crackdown on bad cop behavior continues with House Bill 1926 that specifically prohibits law officers from having sex with prostitutes. It also adds time for repeat offenders and increases the minimum fine for soliciting sex from a minor from $2,000 to $5,000.

House Bill 1750 makes it illegal and a first degree violation of privacy to knowingly defame another person by revealing images of them in the nude or engaging in a sexual act without their consent, a type of retaliation known as revenge porn.

House Bill 2038 creates the Human Trafficking Victim Services Fund administered by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and imposes penalties on those guilty of human trafficking.

House Bill 2205 (Habitual Property Crime) adds a minimum one-year sentence to those who have committed a habitual property crime. The bill, backed by Rep. Chris Lee, aims to address the problem of people being repeatedly victimized by property crime.

House Bill 2034 (Statutes of Limitations for Sexual Assault) was proposed by the Women’s Legislative Caucus, a group comprised of all the women in the state House and Senate. The bill removes the statutes of limitations for minors who are victims of sexual assault and allows them to bring charges against their abuser at any time. It “extends the sunset date to allow a victim of child sexual abuse to bring a civil action against victim’s abuser or an entity, except for the state or counties, if the statute of limitations for filing a civil claim has lapsed.”

Senate Bill 2948 dictates the responsibilities of the Public Utilities Commission chairperson with regards to hiring and retention of staff. The chairperson has ultimate authority in the appointment and employment of their staff and the bill also sets the salary for the chairperson as being 87 percent of the salary of the director of Human Resources Development and the commissioners’ salaries are set at 95 percent of the chairperson’s salary.

House Bill 1943 (Modernization of Hawaii’s Electric System) appropriates funds so that the Public Utilities Commission can move forward with modernizing Hawaii’s electric grid system.  The bill calls on the Public Utilities Commission to address the technical and economic issues that will be associated with changing system.

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