If sending flowers to mom is now considered an essential service, it would seem that it’s past time for the 2020 legislative session to likewise get back to doing “the people’s work.”

God knows, there is plenty of work to do.

Ensuring health care for the recently unemployed, standing up health screening/testing at airports, supporting local agriculture and food-self sufficiency, implementing remote testimony capability, passing automatic voter registration, and preserving the hard-fought Earned Income Tax Credit and increases in Hawaii’s minimum wage are just a few of the critical items that must be addressed.

Kick-starting and diversifying our economy, implementing critical “Green New Deal” job-creating programs that focus on energy and food independence, and environmental resource management also require urgent attention.

Senate President Ron Kouchi and Speaker Scott Saiki announce an unprecedented recess due to COVID-19 at the Capitol.

Legislative leaders announced an unprecedented recess due to COVID-19 at the Capitol on March 16. It’s now time to go back to work to do critical business.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

With most of Hawaii either unemployed or otherwise fearing for their economic future, we are counting on you who were elected to represent our best interest, to in fact do your job.

There are no valid reasons to put off this important work.

The additional cost of an extended session is minimal as legislators and their core staff are paid year-round anyway.

The cost of “session staff” and other incidental expenses are likewise minor in scope.

Public hearings and “floor sessions” can be conducted utilizing a combination of remote “Zoom type” technology and basic old fashion “social distancing.” House and Senate rules may need changing, but that also is easily accomplished so long as the Senate president and House speaker agree.

Many other state legislatures and our own County Councils continue conducting their business in this manner, and there is no reason the Hawaii State Legislature cannot do the same.

Putting off these critical issues until 2021 will not serve us well. Please, reconvene the 2020 legislative session and extend into a special session if necessary.

Do the work, until the work is done. Take whatever time is needed to accomplish the many tasks that await your attention.

Now is the time for Hawaii’s legislative leadership to rise to the occasion. We need you now more than ever before to show us what you got.

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About the Author

  • Gary Hooser
    Gary Hooser is a former member of the Kauai County Council.  He formerly represented Kauai and Niihau in the Hawaii State Senate where he served as Majority Leader and was Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii during the Abercrombie administration.  He also serves in a volunteer capacity as the President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action.