Categorized | Government, News

Hilo area legislators seeking public input for upcoming legislative session


Senators Russell Kokubun (District 2 – Puna, Ka‘u, Hilo) and Dwight Takamine (District 1 – Hilo, Honoka‘a, Laupahoehoe, Hamakua, Waiakea Uka, Keaukaha, Waimea) along with Jerry Chang (District 2 – South Hilo, Waiakea Kai, Kaumana, Keaukaha) and Clift Tsuji (District 3 – South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown) are hoping to get an earful from the community. The Hilo area legislators have scheduled a joint community meeting on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s UCB Room 127. The purpose of the meeting is to give the public a chance to express their concerns and priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

“This is a chance for the public to educate legislators on their major concerns,” said Kokubun, who serves as the Vice President of the Senate. “We all know that the state’s budget and economy are critical issues, but we also know that we need to maintain our focus on a variety of other issues that are important to the community, including agriculture, education and healthcare, among others.”

Chang, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee and a member of the Education Committee added, “Building our economy also implies ensuring that educational opportunities are available at every level,” Chang said. “In our community, that means everything from public elementary and high schools to UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College.”

As Chair of the House Agriculture Committee and a member of committees addressing areas such as consumer protection, economic revitalization and tourism, Tsuji believes that the voice of the public is vital in maintaining balance in the community. “These are the matters that affect our residents every day,” said Tsuji. “There is no substitute for hearing their concerns in their own voices, to make sure their values are represented in the Legislature. They need access to healthcare, education and jobs to feed their families, but they also want to maintain the kind of lifestyle that makes the Big Island a special place. We can help maintain that balance, but we have to start by listening.”

In the end, says Senate Takamine, who chairs the Senate Labor Committee, their effectiveness as legislators relies on the public’s willingness to share their thoughts. “Don’t be shy,” he said. “We want to hear from everybody who has a concern, even if it’s to say, ‘You need to do a better job of this.’ Bring your concerns and speak from the heart. Considering the serious economic situation that confronts, we really need to work together to forge our way into the future.”

The 2010 legislative session convenes on January 20, 2010.

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