Submitted by: Corie Tanida, Project Coordinator, Common Cause Hawaii
On Monday, May 13, 2013 Hawaii Public Radio and Common Cause Hawaii hosted a discussion group to review the 2013 legislative session, called The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. It was also my first day on the job as Project Coordinator for Common Cause Hawaii.
Thankfully, the 30+ participants were knowledgeable and kind. It was not only easy to meet new people, but to listen to their ideas and experiences with the legislative process. There were four guest speakers who talked about the democracy-related bills they worked on, and shared their experiences with the 2013 session: Kory Payne (Voter Owned Hawaii), Burt Lum (Hawaii Open Data), Gerald Kato (Media Council Hawaii), and Representative Chris Lee. Kory, Burt and Gerald spoke passionately about bills that they worked to get passed, ranging in subject from HB622, the Media Shield Law to the HB1481 partial public funding of political campaigns.
In general, most bills die and do not become law. Other times, it takes years to pass a bill. This is typically because the legislative process can be a complicated process. In a nutshell, the legislative process includes having the bill introduced, scheduled for hearings, negotiating amendments, and having legislators agree to those amendments. If the bill makes it through all of that, the process is then repeated in the other legislative chamber. Then, if both chambers have passed the bill, their versions are usually different and the Senate and the House must work together to come up with one unified version.
Unfortunately for Kory and Gerald, although they have worked for many sessions to promote their bills, they were unsuccessful in having their bills passed in the 2013 legislative session. On the other hand, 2013 was Burt's first legislative session, and he successfully helped pass HB632 on Open Data.
It was interesting to hear all of their stories about the process, which involved a lot of educating legislators and the public on the importance of a bill, compromises made, and last minute negotiations between legislators, which Rep. Lee was able to shed more light on. While I could attempt to re-tell Kory, Burt, Gerald, and Rep. Lee's stories, I don't think I could do it justice and explain things as in-depth or as passionately as they did. In this blog post, I can't accurately describe Kory's disappointment and determination, or Burt's excitement and enthusiasm to move on to the next step toward implementing Open Data, or even Gerald's frustration with the legislative process. So, if you happen to see the speakers, I'd recommend you asking them what their experience was like, and I'm sure they'll be happy to enlighten you.
Highlighted bills in Good, Bad, and Ugly event
You can visit www.commoncause.org/HI for a link to the full report of remaining bills that have passed the Legislature and are with the Governor for his consideration.
I'd also recommend following us on Twitter- @CommonCauseHI and Facebook- Common Cause Hawaii. It's an easy way to get involved, and you can be the first to know about our future events, mixers, film screenings, workshops, and more. If you'd like to help with the planning of events, or volunteering to work on Common Cause policy work, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @CorieCCHI. You don't have to be an expert in politics, or know anyone before participating. As long as you have an open mind and are willing to listen, I can guarantee it'll be an interesting, educational, and maybe even motivating experience.
All in all, not bad for my first day.