Thursday, January 29, 2015

Public Access Room's Suzanne Marinelli Honored

For more than 20 years, she was a fixture in the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau’s Public Access Room (PAR). She was a fount of information and could tell you where to find things when it came to anything dealing with the Legislature. And more often than not, she was the person you sought, whether you were a veteran researcher or a member of the public struggling to understand the legislative process for the first time.

Today, Suzanne Marinelli, Coordinator for LRB’s Public Access Room, retires. And there will be more than a few civic minded citizens who will feel the loss.

“Everyone who has had to negotiate and find their way through the Legislature knows Suzanne, her staff and the PAR’s office,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki.

“Whether you needed to track a bill, find out who your legislator is, where his office is, or how and when to submit testimony on a measure, Suzanne and her staff could always be counted on to help you. She provided an invaluable service and will be missed.”

“She made it easier and more satisfying for so many ordinary citizens to take part in government through her professionalism and dedication,” said Rep. Calvin Say, Speaker Emeritus, who introduced a resolution in the House recognizing her years of contributions. “At a time when we bemoan the lack of citizen participation in government, she has done much to reverse that trend.”

Marinelli moved to Kauai in 1984 from Virginia, and relocated to Oahu after she lost her home to Hurricane Iniki in 1992. It was while working for a local organization who wanted to establish a presence at the Legislature that she discovered and became engrossed with the role and workings of the Public Access Room. She joined the Public Access Room as a part-timer and eventually became its coordinator in 2000.

“I was fascinated to see the mechanism of governance up close, to watch as legislators sought balance among competing interests and as they endeavored to craft solutions to address the needs of our islands’ many populations,” Marinelli said.

Virginia Beck succeeds Marinelli as the new PAR coordinator and Keanu Young is the new assistant coordinator.

The Public Access Room serves the public by providing facilities, services and equipment to enhance their ability to participate in the legislative process. It provides the public with work space to do research and hold small meetings; computers with free internet access to monitor news and legislative hearings; copiers and fax machines to facilitate paper work; and reference materials including Hawai’s session laws, journals and local directories.

The staff assists individuals with understanding the bill process, the status of bills and how to submit testimony in support or opposition to measures. PAR also conducts helpful workshops both on and off site, publishes online newsletters and information sheets. Its service is free and staff members assume a neutral, non-partisan position on all issues.

For more information on the services provided of the Public Access Room and useful information about the Hawaii State Legislature, visit their website at

PAR was established in 1990 by the Legislature to improve public access to legislative information. Originally staffed by community volunteers, PAR was made part of a permanent public access program in 1994, offering a year-round staff and services. In 1996, PAR was transferred to the Legislative Reference Bureau.

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