Reconvened Legislative Session Seeks to “Plug $1 Billion Hole” in Budget
When the 2020 Legislative session reconvenes on Monday, May 11, the State Capitol will be secured and closed to the general public. Only lawmakers and essential staff will be given access to the building.
These restrictions are to limit any possible coronavirus infections and to protect the health and safety of everyone working at the Capitol. These measures are compelled by the Governor’s statewide stay-at-home order which remains in effect through May 31.
Even though the public is not physically allowed into the building, there are many ways they can participate in the process and contribute to the outcome of proposed legislation.
The reconvened Legislative Session is expected to last from six to nine working days with all Representatives in attendance during floor sessions in the House.
Lawmakers say the primary goal for the Legislature during this time is to revise the state budget bill “to avoid any draconian budget cuts to wages or services,” and to “plug a $1 billion hole in the budget” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The entire House of Representatives will meet at noon Monday through Friday during the session in a reconfigured seating arrangement to conform to physical distancing. These meetings will be televised on ‘Ōlelo Community Television and live streamed at http://olelo.granicus.com/
The public can also watch the House Finance Committee as they work through the budget process with hearings live streamed and televised on ‘Ōlelo. Broadcast information can be found at https://www.capitol.hawaii.
The public can also participate by submitting written testimony on specific bills. All hearing notices are posted on the Legislative website at https://www.capitol.hawaii.
Pay attention to testimony instructions listed on the hearing notice. Committees ask that testimony be submitted 24 hours prior to a hearing.
Testimony should indicate:
- Testifier’s name with position/title and organization;
- The Committee(s) to which the comments are directed;
- The date and time of the hearing;
- Measure number.
Submit testimony in ONE of the following ways:
- WEB: For testimony less than 20MB in size, transmit from http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/
- FAX: For testimony less than 5 pages in length, transmit to 586-6201 (Oahu) or 1-800-535-3859 (for Neighbor Islander without a computer to submit testimony through the Web).
Testimony submitted will be placed on the legislative website and on the bill’s status page. The public posting of testimony on the website should be considered when including personal information in your testimony.
In addition, every Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. our in-house news and information program called “Live at the Legislature” is shown on ‘Ōlelo channel 49. This weekly show features timely interviews with lawmakers discussing events, bills and issues moving through the House of Representatives.
Every Wednesday at noon, our newest program called “Talk Story with House Majority” is aired on ‘Ōlelo channel 49. House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti is the host and she interviews community and government leaders along with State Representatives discussing pressing community issues.
Both programs are also available to neighbor island viewers through their public-access stations.
The Legislature has been in recess since March 17 when one lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus.
For more information on the legislative process or how to contact your Representatives, go to https://www.capitol.hawaii.