Maui News

Pilot Project Features Video Testimony From Neighbor Islands

January 25, 2013, 8:42 AM HST
* Updated January 25, 8:43 AM
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WAM Committee hearing on SB2012.  Photo courtesy Senate Communications.

Committee Hearing, file photo courtesy Senate Communications.

By Wendy Osher

Beginning this legislative session, neighbor island constituents will have the chance to testify at a Senate hearing without physically being there.

The pilot project utilizes the senate’s new Neighbor Island Video Conferencing Program, giving neighbor islanders the opportunity to actively participate in legislation, while avoiding travel and related expenses.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim said the Senate will also benefit from input and discussion that previously may have been missing.

The Senate Committee on Education will demonstrate and introduce this new concept during its informational briefing this afternoon to discuss the progress of the state’s Race to the Top grant.

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Live testimony will be received from Keaau Elementary School Principal Chad Farias on the Big Island via video-conference at today’s Senate Committee on Education hearing.

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“Our committee contemplates issues that impact communities statewide and video conferencing allows us to ensure that critical stakeholders like parents, students, educators and community leaders can share their thoughts with us on important policy matters we are considering,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Committee on Education.

“We encourage everyone to actively engage with us in this pilot project, and exercise your right and responsibility to be involved in the legislative process.”

The Neighbor Island Video Conferencing Program is being piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts.

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Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and will contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate.

Because it is a pilot project, legislative officials there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate.

The success of the project will be evaluated upon completion of the Legislative Session.

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