State lawmakers are considering legislation to protect businesses and homeowners in the event of a missile alert. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
The joint House Committees on Public Safety and Military Affairs consolidated 3 bills into one, to provide businesses with immunity from civil lawsuits when they help to shelter the public in the event of a missile attack. Retail Merchants on Hawai’i president, Tina Yamaki, says business owners support the legislation but there are questions that remain unanswered.
“A lot of businesses have glass storefronts and if a bomb does implode, the glass is gonna go in and shard people. If we lock our doors, are we admitting not letting people, now we’re putting them in a safe room in the back and what happens when we’re to capacity and we can’t put more people in there. These are some of the questions that retailers are asking themselves but we wanna be good citizens and we wanna help communities the best that we can.”
Yamaki also asked what happens after a nuclear attack. Many businesses do not have food or water for the public. Other provisions of the bill prevent price gouging and offers fair compensation for businesses. Deputy Attorney General Mike Vincent says there are anti-price gouging statutes but no current laws for retailers selling food or dry goods.
“We’re gonna find a grocery store that has concrete walls and that’s where we’re going. But we expect to pay them if we use any of their commodities. We don’t expect the owner to have to give away what’s on the shelves to the people they’re providing shelter for.”
Homeowners were also included in the measure and would be required to shelter members of the public if asked to do so. Deputy Attorney General Vincent says that would be unconstitutional for homeowners.
“I don’t think we can force anybody to do something in their home like that. I don’t think we can do that.”
House Public Safety Committee Chair, Greg Takayama, recommended passage of the bill and highlighted enforcement and fines.
“Any violations of this under public accommodation law would be investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. Any penalties would be those imposed that already exist in the public accommodations laws with civil fines with no less than $500, no more than $10,000 dollars per action.”
Bill 2693 now goes to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.