House Democrats held a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol to announce the majority caucus legislative package but offered little in the way of details about any of the priorities they plan to focus on this session, which convened Wednesday.
Fixing public infrastructure, facilitating business and increasing participation in government will be the main themes, Majority Leader Scott Saiki told a foyer full of reporters.
The plan is to focus on “festering” issues that have long-plagued the state, he said, before turning it over to committee chairs to broadly discuss what they plan to tackle.
The dozen or so goals they listed in a subsequent release seemed reasonable — and a lot like what the state should already be doing. The reps said they want to protect the public interest while modernizing the electrical grid, create a sustainable public hospital system, modernize the tax collection system, increase local food production, protect military bases, standardize voting procedure and increase technology to allow for neighbor island tele-participation, among others.
When the Star-Advertiser’s Gordon Pang asked if there were any actual bills the reps might want to share so the public could see what ideas they have to achieve their lofty goals, Saiki said the bill cut-off deadline is next Thursday. So, no.
Last year, the Senate and the House got together and unveiled a joint majority package — complete with the bills that lawmakers would use to try achieving their goals.
The press conference was delayed over an hour due to debate in the House over a concurrent resolution.
Looks like we’ll have to wait another week or so to see how House Democrats plan to get where they say they want to go. Then we can ask how they plan to pay for it, particularly given Wednesday’s enlightening look at the state’s financial picture.
The Senate has similarly unveiled its broad priorities for the coming session. The Democratic majority plans to focus on energy and food resiliency; community well-being and smart growth; and government effectiveness.
Below are the Senate and House majorities’ stated plans for the session.