Tuesday, February 11, 2020


Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Have you ever felt frustrated by having to fly all the way to Oʻahu just to have your voice heard at the State Capitol? Or have you submitted written testimony but been unable to speak or answer questions from legislators during legislative hearings? 
A bill addressing these challenges to legislative access passed its final hearing today in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Introduced by Representative David Tarnas (North Kona, South Kohala, North Kohala), HB1153 HD1 SD2 would improve public access to the legislative process by establishing a remote legislative access program that would allow individuals to present oral
testimony at legislative committee hearings through remote testimony. After many years of persistent requests by neighbor island legislators and advocates, this is the first time such legislation has passed all its committees in both the House and Senate.  

The legislation received broad public support, including from Hawai‘i Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations, Common Cause Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Government Employees Association, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, and Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim. If this bill is passed, Hawai‘i's new remote legislative access program will place the state alongside just two others, Alaska and Nevada, which have instituted remote testimony programs.

"Remote legislative access will help neighbor island residents actively participate in the legislative process without incurring the significant, and often prohibitive, costs of air travel, lodging, and time off work, just to have their voices heard at the Capitol,” said Rep. Tarnas.  “This bill would not only increase engagement by allowing people who experience economic or physical obstacles to participate in the State legislative process, but will also reduce carbon emissions from air travel, supporting the State’s climate change mitigation goals."
HB1153 HD1 SD2 now goes to the entire Senate for a vote, and then to a joint House-Senate Conference Committee, in which the House and Senate conferees negotiate to agree on an identical version of the bill, which would then return to the House and Senate for a final vote.    

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