Session Laws are laws that are passed by the Legislature and (in most cases) signed by the Governor.  Some Session Laws adopt or make changes to the Hawaii Revised Statutes.  Some Session Laws, such as the annual state budget, are not codified, which means that they do not become part of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

In addition, even the Session Laws that add, amend, or repeal parts of the Hawaii Revised Statutes contain information that is important but is not codified.  For example, the Session Laws contain the effective date of the addition, amendment, or repeal.

The Hawaii Revised Statutes, both in print and online, contain notations at the end telling us which Session Laws adopted, amended, or repealed the HRS section in question.  Here is an example:

§237-11  Tax year.  The assessment of taxes herein made and the returns required therefor shall be for the year ending on December 31.  If the taxpayer, in exercising a privilege taxable under this chapter, keeps the taxpayer’s books reflecting the same on a basis other than the calendar year, the taxpayer may, with the assent of the department of taxation, and upon the direction of the department shall, make the taxpayer’s annual returns and pay taxes for the year covering the taxpayer’s accounting period as shown by the method of keeping the taxpayer’s books. [L 1935, c 141, §10; RL 1945, §5452; RL 1955, §117-12; am L 1957, c 34, §4; am L Sp 1959 2d, c 1, §16; HRS §237-11; gen ch 1985]

This statute was adopted in section 10 of Act 141, Session Laws of Hawaii 1935.  (At this time Hawaii was still a U.S. Territory and not a State.)

It was codified as section 5452 of the Revised Laws of Hawaii 1945 (the Hawaii Revised Statutes didn’t exist yet).

It was codified as section 117-12 of the Revised Laws of Hawaii 1955.

It was amended by section 4 of Act 34, SLH 1957.

It was amended by section 16 of Act 1, SLH 1959, Second Special Session.

It was codified as section 237-11 of the HRS.  (The HRS was enacted into law, replacing the Revised Laws of Hawaii 1955, by Act 16, SLH 1968.)

In 1985, this section was revised to replace gender-specific language with gender-neutral language.  HRS section 23F-15(8), added by Act 90, SLH 1984, authorized such revisions generally.  (“Gen ch” means “gender change.”)

Session laws are important because they give us clues to the meaning of some of the laws that are now on the books.  Please access the Legislature’s session law page here.

Committee reports, testimony, and other information essential to researching statutes is often organized by year and by bill number.  Each Session Law will have a bill number at the beginning of the Session Law.

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