Scientists have given us a deadline of 2030 until we reach a point where the damage from climate change will be irreversible — only 11 years.

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The Arctic’s oldest and most resilient ice is already 95% gone. Coral reefs are disappearing at alarming rates and could be completely gone in 30 years. Flooding is getting worse. Hurricanes are getting more powerful. Entire cities are expected to disappear.

We are heading straight for disaster, yet the U.S. Congress does nothing.

It’s no secret why — Congress refuses to take action because of the staggering amounts of money pouring in from the fossil fuel industry. Our elected officials in Washington, D.C., are more responsive to special interests than they are to the people.

The first step to finding meaningful solutions to the climate crisis is getting the influence of big money out of politics. We must take strong and immediate action to restore a government that is responsive to the people. Only then can we expect to solve these critical life or death challenges facing our country.

There is no other way. Our climate, food, air, water, families … our future is at the mercy of big money’s stranglehold on Congress.

The U.S. Capitol. The author wants a constitutional amendment to limit the influence of money in elections. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

The Hawaii Legislature has an opportunity to take real action to end the rampant corruption of big money in politics. Senate Concurrent Resolution 131, known as the “Free and Fair Elections Resolution,” passed the state Senate with a favorable vote of 17-6. We should all be thanking our state senators for understanding the urgency of this issue by supporting this important legislation.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Karl Rhoads, is the strongest action the state of Hawaii can take to end the corruption happening in Washington. The legislation demands a U.S. constitutional amendment to fix the damage done by Citizens United v. FEC and other disastrous Supreme Court cases that have allowed unlimited amounts of money to pour into our politics. It utilizes a logical and proven strategy of pursuing a route that goes around Congress and puts the power to fix this problem in the hands of We the People via the states to propose this vital amendment.

Historically, this is how you put the most amount of pressure on Congress to act. Hawaii would join Vermont, California, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island in taking this important step to save democracy so that we can save our climate and our communities.

The Free and Fair Elections Resolution will now go to the House Judiciary Committee. Last year, the public’s voice was not allowed to be heard on this critical legislation in that committee, so it is vital that it gets a hearing this year. Let us all make sure SCR 131 gets the public hearing that it deserves in the 2019 legislative session. Our climate can’t afford to wait one more year.

Please contact members of the Hawaii House Judiciary Committee, primarily Chair Rep. Chris Lee and Vice-Chair Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, and ask them to schedule a hearing for SCR 131. With your help, Hawaii could soon become a leader on this urgent issue. Together, we can solve the climate crisis and so many other pressing issues, but it starts with us understanding the urgency of now, and taking action today. Mahalo

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