The Hawai‘i State Legislative Session will begin on Wednesday, January 19, 2022!
The typical work of the State Legislature will likely be even more fast-paced than usual, as the historic federal response to the pandemic continues to require robust efforts in state implementation. The work of Papa Ola Lōkahi includes taking steps to support health policy that reflects the values and goals of our lāhui, such as access to Native Hawaiian traditional healing practices and supporting our cultural practitioners.
We also hope that our lāhui will use their voices to speak to the many topics that impact Native Hawaiians throughout Hawaiʻi through public feedback and engagement during the 2022 session.
The State of Hawaiʻi offers resources that help to facilitate community engagement and participation with legislative process. The Legislative Reference Bureau’s Public Access Room (PAR) is a non-partisan office that provides information, facilities, and services including knowledge of how the Capitol operates, computers, printers, and office supplies to research, draft correspondence, or write testimony.
Additionally, televisions are available to view hearings, workspace is available, as well as many other textual resources that will help orient you to both the history and the process of our state legislature.
For continued health and safety, the PAR is not accepting walk-in visitors, but is available via phone (808) 587-0478 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The PAR staff continue to conduct workshops and tutorials on Zoom as well, and offer their resources via website (lrb.hawaii.gov/par/) and on social media through Facebook (Public Access Room, Hawai‘i State Legislature), Twitter (@Hawaii_PAR), and on YouTube (Hawaii Public Access Room).
Knowing your legislators and which committees they are assigned to is also an important part of the legislative process. The legislative website (www.capitol.hawaii.gov) can help you identify who your representatives are based on your residence. The website also allows for tracking bills of interest, submitting comments or testimony, and more – and these functions and tools have helpful how-to videos provided by the PAR.
To date, no announcement from the State Capitol has been made regarding a decision to resume public participation in-person or to remain on Zoom; we anticipate that our legislators are carefully monitoring COVID-19. In 2021, live video on the House and Senate YouTube pages and remote testimony via Zoom was made available, which provided increased accessibility and opportunity for community members who do not reside on Oʻahu to participate.
The role of Papa Ola Lōkahi, which is meant to uplift Native Hawaiian health through a variety of mechanisms, supports both access to health resources as well as advocacy regarding the regulations and laws that govern health. We are grateful to the community members who have participated in E Ola Mau a Mau and other sessions to share their manaʻo with us.