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Have your voice heard in Honolulu

By Staff | Sep 24, 2015

The Hawaii State Legislature at times takes up matters important to West Maui residents. Two recent examples were funding to continue the Boarding Department at Lahainaluna High School and the impressive, monumental effort to persuade the state to purchase the land around Honolua Bay to keep the cherished area in open space.

There are also controversial measures on issues like same-sex marriage, legalizing gambling in Hawaii and healthcare that seem to pop up every year.

It’s safe to say that most residents here don’t understand the process to pass bills and appropriate funding at the legislature. Citizens may have an opinion on legalizing marijuana or another hot button issue, but they don’t offer testimony.

Fortunately, the Public Access Room is coming to Maui from Oct. 6-8 to hold workshops on how to influence state laws.

PAR will detail how the law-making process works and discuss ways to let state legislators know what you want them to focus on when the 2016 Legislative Session begins in January.

“When people speak up, the legislators do listen. And through PAR and the legislature’s website, they provide some great tools and resources to make it easier for you to add your voice,” said Virginia Beck, PAR’s public access coordinator.

Topics to be covered during the workshops include tips and techniques on effective lobbying, submitting testimony, communicating with senators and representatives, understanding the legislative process and deadlines, “power dynamics” and easy-to-use tools available on the legislature’s website.

Helpful handouts, guides and resources will be offered to attendees, and the 90-minute workshops will end with time for focus and collaboration on matters of interest to the participants.

The “We the Powerful!” workshop schedule is: Tuesday, Oct. 6, at noon at Kahului Community Center and 6 p.m. at Kihei Public Library; Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m. at Lahaina Civic Center; and Thursday, Oct. 8, at noon at the Tavares Community Center in Pukalani and 6 p.m. at Wailuku Public Library. To register, call 984-2400 (extension 7-0478), e-mail par@capitol.hawaii.gov or visit LRBHawaii.org/PAR.

If bills or issues at the legislature are important to you, take part in the process.