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HOOSER: 3 steps toward 6 important priorities

Please don’t tell me it’s a waste of time, nobody listens anyway, or that you’re busy. You can be part of the solution or part of the problem. I ask that you please, please, please — today be part of the solution.

On Jan. 17, the 2024 legislative session will begin. Legislators and lobbyists are drafting their priorities now in preparation. So it’s now time for you to start taking action.

Step 1 — Identify just who in the heck is your state senator and representative. As a voter in their district, your voice is especially important!

Go to to get the name and contact info of your district’s Senator and Representative. Pin this information to your refrigerator and save it to your phone.

Step 2 — Email them a short note – professional and courteous always. Let them know you live in their district. Let them know you’re tired of “business as usual politics” and ask them to help lead and support important systemic changes that are long overdue.

Step 3 — Include a short list of reforms, changes, or new policy proposals important to you — for 2024.

Below are priorities that many advocacy organizations and individuals are rallying behind, and will be pushing hard in the coming months. Yes, these are “inside baseball” type of reforms, and if your eyes are starting to glaze over at this point – please just email your own issue priorities!

• First and foremost, take care of the people and community of West Maui and Lahaina. Do not use Maui as an excuse not to deal with other vital issues. Exercise the political will needed to access numerous untapped funding sources that can provide the resources needed. If you need more time, extend the session.

• Pass the core state budget a month before the session concludes and avoid the last minute chaos of previous years.

• End the practice of referring bills to the money committees when those initiatives have little or nothing to do with money. Take away the power of the “money chairs” to kill basic policies that have no impact on the state budget.

• Stop the practice of referring bills to a House-Senate conference committee where they die in darkness. Require a written report, explaining the conference committee’s decision and citing each individual members vote for or against that action – for every bill sent to a conference committee.

• 2024 is the second year of the biennium. There is no need to introduce, refer, schedule, hear, and pass through the entire process yet again those bills that are now in conference committee or otherwise still “alive.”

•Reconvene the conference committee and pass Senate Bill 1543 on publicly funded elections. This is the reform that makes all other reforms possible and will help get money out of politics. SB1543 has the potential to be a game-changer IF our legislature is serious about doing the peoples work.

To those who are new to the process please visit and explore this valuable nonpartisan educational resource The Legislative Reference Bureau – Engagement 101

As to the old-timers, political junkies, and other involved civic minded folk – Please send out your email to your district legislators as well, and then share this information widely with your friends and networks!

Like most of you, I am sick and tired of the circus of shenanigans, the corruption, the inefficiencies, and the do-the-minimum attitude that seems pervasive at the state legislature.

But let’s get real. This is the only government we have and it will only get better when we as individuals, engage and take ownership of it.

The year 2024 is an election year. We, collectively, need to seek out and support good candidates (both incumbents and newcomers) and we need to press hard on changing the way our government works.


Gary Hooser served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Counci. He presently writes on Hawaii Policy and Politics at
Source: The Garden Island

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