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Not all state laws make it into Hawaii Revised Statutes

By June Watanabe

LAST UPDATED: 8:44 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

Question: Can you please direct me to where in the Hawaii Revised Statutes it states that electric vehicles may park for free? Your June 24 column on electric cars said, "Act 290 became Sections 291-71 and 291-72 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes," but I don't find anything about free parking.

Answer: You're correct that those HRS sections dealing with requirements for designating parking spaces for electric vehicles don't mention free-parking privileges at state and county facilities/meters.

It turns out the free-parking requirements in Act 290 of 1997 were never codified in the state statutes, but instead can be found in the Session Laws of 1997.

But that doesn't make Act 290 any less of a law, said state Rep. K. Mark Takai. There are two types of Hawaii laws: those in the Hawaii Revised Statutes and those called "session laws."

In Hawaii the Revisor of Statutes is the director or a designated staff member of the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Measures enacted by the Legislature "frequently, though by no means always," amend the HRS generally or specific chapters or sections, explained Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi, acting director of the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Other measures, such as the budgets for the state executive branch, Judiciary and Legislature, do not amend or "purport to amend" the HRS or might be of a temporary nature, such as the creation of a pilot program or task force to address a particular issue, she said.

"These measures are not codified in the HRS, as they are not laws of a general or permanent nature," she said. This was the case of Act 290 in 1997.

When Act 290 was passed in 1997, it did have an expiration date for some provisions, Takai noted.

However, the free-parking provisions and use of HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes remain in effect.

As Takai said, Carter-Yamauchi emphasized that because an act is published in the session laws "does not render it any less 'the law' or any less 'important.' Uncodified laws ... are still statutes and are very much 'the law.'"

While the free-parking provision continues to capture people's attention, Takai pointed out that legislation has been proposed to set a time limit on the free parking. (House Bill 1016, HD 2, which would incorporate some provisions of Act 290 as a new section to Chapter 286 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, did not pass this past session, but carries over to the next session.)

"As we get more and more EVs (electric vehicles) on the road, it's going to be difficult to keep" the unlimited free parking, Takai said. "I think at a certain point it's going to need to transition" into something less expansive.

Where To See Act 290 of 1997

You can read Act 290 of the Session Laws of 1997, as well as other session laws, at the Legislative Reference Bureau library, in Room 005 in the basement of the state Capitol (Ewa side). You can also email reference questions to The website for the bureau is

The bureau issues a minimum of two statutory publications each year: the session laws for that year and the cumulative supplements to the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The annual volume of the Session Laws of Hawaii includes all of the laws enacted by the Legislature for a particular year, in the exact form as passed and arranged in the order of their becoming law, explained Carter-Yamauchi.

The Hawaii Revised Statutes is a compilation, or codification, of the general and permanent laws of the state, organized according to broad topical areas, she said. The cumulative supplements to the HRS contain updates to the laws.

The bureau also periodically publishes a replacement volume of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, incorporating all laws enacted since the permanent volume was last updated.

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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