Keeping involved with Hawaii law-making
by Rachelle Chang, Better Hawaii
The 2013 Hawaii Legislative Session is already underway. There are only 60 working days in the session, but in these few months our legislators can have a big impact on everything in Hawaii, from taxes and business regulations to public spending and personal freedom.
To get ready for the proposed legislation that is coming our way, here are some helpful tips to get involved in the Hawaii legislative process.
* How can I find out my legislative districts?
If you’re registered to vote, you can check your yellow Notice of Voter Registration and Address Confirmation Card. You can also check the Office of Elections 2012 Election Maps.
* How do I contact my representative and senator?
The Hawaii State Legislature website has a directory of all legislators.
* How can I get on a committee’s mailing, fax, or e-mail list?
Visit the Hawaii State Legislature website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/, click “Bill Status & Documents,” and click on “Subscribe to Hearing Notices by e-mail”. If you don’t have internet access, you can call or write to the appropriate committee chair’s office to be placed on the committee’s mailing list.
* How do I find out about public hearings?
The Hawaii State Legislature website lists current public hearings with links to the proposed bills and hearing notices. To receive hearing notices via email, you must register for an account. The account will also let you track measures and submit testimony.
* How do I submit testimony for a public hearing?
You can submit testimony online through your account with the Hawaii State Legislature by clicking on “Submit Testimony.” For written testimony, follow the instructions on the bill notice regarding the minimum number of copies, and submit it to the appropriate office at least 24 hours prior to the hearing. For the House, testimony should be delivered to the committee vice chair’s office, faxed to the number provided on the committee’s hearing notice, or emailed to the lead committee’s email address. For the Senate, testimony should be delivered to the committee chair’s office, faxed to 586-6659 (Neighbor Islands: 1-800-586-6659) or emailed to the lead committee’s email address.
For more information, read the Citizen Participation Factsheet.
If you’re interested in finding more about how bills become laws, here are some legislative terms that will help us understand the Hawaii legislative process:
* Bill Cutoff is the last day to introduce bills. In 2013, Bill Cutoff was on January 24. There was also a Grants/Subsidies Cutoff on January 31.
* First Lateral is the last day to move bills to a final committee within each house. Since most bills are referred to more than one committee, this ensures that the referral committees have time to review the bill.
* First Decking is the last day to “deck” bills for Third Reading in the original house. “Decking” is the time when the final form of a bill is made available to the Legislature, at least 48 hours before put to a vote. Note: Bills introduced in the 2013 session that fail to meet this deadline can still be considered in the 2014 session.
* First Crossover is the last day for Third Reading of bills in the originating house. If it passes, it “crosses over” to the other house for consideration.
* Second Lateral is the last day to move “crossover” bills to a final committee within each house (all Senate bills with House referrals, and all House bills with Senate referrals).
* Second Decking is the last day to “deck” bills amended by the receiving (non-originating) body. A House-Senate conference committee meets to resolve differences if there is a formal disagreement.
* Second Crossover is the last day for Third Reading of bills amended by the receiving (non-originating) body, at least 48 hours after the amended bills were decked.
* Disagree is the last day to disagree with the other chamber’s drafts of bills.
* Crossover is the last day to pass concurrent resolutions to the non-originating body. If adopted, these concurrent resolutions cross over into the other house for further consideration.
* Final Decking is the last day to “deck” bills for Final Reading.
* Adjournment Sine Die is the last day of the session and the last day to vote on bills for Final Reading and on resolutions up for adoption. In 2013, Adjournment Sine Die is on May 2.
The 2013 Hawaii Legislative Timetable is already posted, so we know the important dates to contact our legislators.
If there is a bill or resolution that affects you… if there is an issue that you feel passionate about… please don’t hesitate to submit testimony or contact your legislators. We need to show our legislators that we care about what they are doing and that we are watching their actions.