With less than a month until the 2015 Legislative Session opening day, the countdown has begun. What can you do to prepare for the next 4 months?
1. Get familiar with the Public Access Room (PAR)—Room 401 in the Capitol. The only resource of its kind in the nation, this is YOUR office at the capitol. Services provided by PAR include:
1. Computer use, free printing
2. Knowledgeable and friendly staff, who are there to help YOU
3. Workshops to help demystify the legislative process
4. http://lrbhawaii.org/par/ A website full of resources including:
i. Videos of past workshops (it’s always good to have a refresher on “How a Bill Becomes Law”)
ii. “How to...” documents (submit testimony, use the capitol website, etc.)
iii. Glossaries (to help you understand the legal mumble jumble)
2. Check out the capitol website. capitol.hawaii.gov This invaluable resource allows you to:
1. Submit testimony
2. Track the status of bills that are of interest to you
3. Get notifications of upcoming hearings
4. Find your legislators, their committee assignments, etc.
5. View past bills
6. Access the legislative calendar (deadlines, deadlines, deadlines!)
3. Contact your legislators. If you are working on a specific issue, it’s good to contact your legislators and/or committee chairpersons NOW, to discuss your position. As soon as session begins, legislators’ schedules are packed and it’s difficult to schedule even a 5 minute meeting; so don’t wait.
4. Get involved with community groups with similar interests. There are many organizations and like-minded citizens that are probably working on similar issues as you. Besides getting to know and working with new people, “People Power” can be very persuasive.
5. Keep up-to-date with the news. Current events constantly change the landscape of what’s going on at the legislature, and often provide insight as to the cause. While you don’t have to be glued to your tablet or smart phone 24/7, it’s a good idea to be aware of what’s going on.
Bonus tip: make sure you’re on Common Cause Hawaii’s email list, to stay up to date on events, legislative updates, trainings and more!
Office: Common Cause Hawaii