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New year means start of new laws in Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — A handful of new laws will take effect with the new year in Hawaii, affecting a range of things including public records, abandoned vessels and athletic trainers.All or portions of 16 bills will take effect Jan. 1.The public records bill, SB2858, creates a process for government agencies to be able to appeal decisions by the Office of Information Practices if the office orders records released when requested by the public or media. The law stems from a 2009 state appeals court decision in a case brought against the office, or OIP, by the County of Kauai.In that case, the courts allowed the county to appeal an OIP decision requiring disclosure of minutes from a closed meeting. The change is intended to bring the state's law in line with the legal opinion.HB2589 clarifies the responsibility for disposing of abandoned boats. The bill is something the Department of Land and Natural Resources had wanted because it was tired of being contacted by other agencies to remove abandoned vessels, regardless of whether they were on state lands, said Ed Underwood, administrator of the department's Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.Counties voiced concerns with the additional responsibility and costs they might incur. That law was to take effect either July 1 this year, if counties had access to boat registration and other records, or Jan. 1, 2013.SB155 is aimed at regulating athletic trainers. The Legislature found that Hawaii was one of only a few states to not regulate athletic trainers. The portion of the law taking effect Jan. 1 requires that certified athletic trainers be registered with the state.Louise Inafuku, president of the Hawaii Athletic Trainers Association, said she had heard anecdotally of situations involving trainers who were not certified but she said the problem was that there was no state agency for people to report any such concerns. She said that was one of the biggest reasons for this bill.