The Hawaii Legislature is again discussing controversial proposals this year, among them bills to legalize marijuana, ban smoking on Hawaii beaches and squash the Public Land Development Corp.
Through a new initiative, Maui constituents now have the chance to testify at a Senate meeting without physically being there.
The Neighbor Island Video-Conferencing Pilot Project allows residents and state and county departments based on a Neighbor Island to participate in Senate hearings.
Hearing notices for the pilot project will indicate that video-conferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions on how to join in.
"This is an exciting new initiative for the Senate that will allow our constituents to participate in a meeting without actually having to fly to Oahu. We hope many residents will take advantage of this opportunity," said West and South Maui Sen. Roz Baker.
"Video-conferencing is a great tool that'll close the distance between our constituents on Maui and what's happening at the State Capitol. It'll certainly connect them with issues they're interested in," said Central Maui Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran.
Keep in mind that this is a pilot project, There are some limitations to how many people can participate.
After the Legislative Session, the project will be evaluated. The Senate may be able to expand video-conferencing to cover more committees, more hearings and possibly a wider audience.
Join in Senate discussions by visiting www.capitol.hawaii.gov/videoconf.aspx.