It’s Leg Session, Get Involved!
March 01, 2019
We are midway through the Legislative Session and it’s never too late to get involved. Being a civically engaged member of the community helps to strengthen our collective voice and can create real change on the ground. The legislators REALLY DO rely on citizens like you to guide legislative priorities.
To get started, log on to www.capitol.hawaii.gov (one of the best legislative websites in the country!)
Click “Register” in the upper-right hand corner to create an account.
Next, find the bills and measures that interest you so you can track them and offer testimony when bills come up for hearings. To do this, find the “Keyword” text box on the left side of the homepage. Enter keywords like “single-use plastic,” “living wage,” “school gardens,” etc. The results will tell you which bills focus on your interests (make sure results are relevant by checking that each bill is from 2019).
Alternatively, you can click on the orange “hearing notification” button, which brings you to a page where you can select which committees’ bills you want to hear about, like: Agriculture (AGR), Education (EDU), Hawaiian Affairs (HWN), etc. If you already know the bill numbers you want to follow, enter them on the “Hearing Notification” page, as well.
Once you receive a notification that a bill you are tracking is scheduled for a hearing, return to the website, sign in, enter the bill number (HB854, SB11, etc.) in the search bar on left side of homepage.
Once on the bill’s page, click “Submit Testimony.” You will be guided to the testimony page where you can click “Support” or “Oppose” then straight to “Submit” if you only have a few minutes. If you have the time, write in or attach testimony to make for an impactful testimony. Your testimony is saved for the rest of the session, and you can even use the same one when the bill moves to its next committee!
Here are a few bills we are tracking:
Relating to Agriculture:
HB1102 & SB762: This bill would establish and appropriate funds for the P-20 Agriculture Education Coordinator position within the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
HB770: This bill appropriates funds for a capital improvement project for the Honalo marshallingyard.
SB3090: This bill requires the Department of Agriculture to create a dollar-for-dollar matching program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to purchase Hawaiʻi-grown produce.
Relating to Waste Reduction:
SB 522:This bill would phase out a variety of single-use plastics over a 5-year period and create a working group to eliminate plastic packaging in Hawaiʻi. Included in the phase out is polystyrene foam, plastic straws, utensils, bags, and water bottles. The phase out will begin in State agencies and then be eliminated from food service sectors of business.
SB 11: This bill would phase out polystyrene foam in the food service industry.
SB 367: This bill would phase out polystyrene foam, plastic straws, and plastic bags from food service establishments.
HB854: This bill increases food donation protections and requires the DOH to educate food vendors on existing liability protections.
Consider this handy Teacher’s Guide to Raising Student Voice and subscribing to these newsletters to keep up-to-date: Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United, Sierra Club, Surfrider Oʻahu, Zero Waste Oʻahu.