President's Message (Grace Furukawa)|
Freedom of Information - County Style? (Evangeline Funk)
Planning & Zoning Update
Making Democracy Work
Neighborhood Board Elections (Arlene Ellis)
Civil Liberties and the Internet
Nationalization of News and the Newsification of Politics (insert) (Beverly Keever)
The grueling 1997 Legislative Session is over and as of this writing, we are trying to complete a full status report of the Women's Coalition Package and other bills directly impacting women's issues and services. In general, we faired very poorly with a legislature that doesn't seem to consider these issues a high priority for us in Hawaii.
This was particularly true in the House. This body went so far as to insert provisions into S.B. 263 that would have exempted business from providing family planning insurance coverage for employees based upon religious grounds, and allowing businesses to deny such coverage to single women. Fortunately, this Bill was held in conference committee by Senate objection.
Of the 18 bills and resolutions covering women's health care, domestic violence, sexual harassment, violence prevention and child care that made up the Women's Coalition package this year, it appears that only one survived. H.B 617 H.D. 1 (Act 052) Relating to Children Born To Parents Not Married To Each Other will finally eliminate the term "illegitimate child" from all of our state statutes.
Most of our bills were heard and met with good support in the Senate, particularly from the Judiciary Committee, co-chaired by Avery Chumbley and Matt Matsunaga. However, almost all of the Women's Coalition measures were not scheduled for hearings in the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Terrance Tom. Many other bills of interest to the Coalition were also held in this committee.
Both the House Finance (Chair Calvin Say) and Senate Ways and Means Committees (Co-chairs Lehua Fernandes Sailing and Carol Fukunaga) proved to be stumbling blocks for several measures. In fact, those two committees nearly eliminated the small budget that supports the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women and a long list of critical community projects.
A wonderful show of community support turned the tide, and the HCSW budget was restored in late conference committee negotiations. This effort dramatically demonstrated the impact that individuals, particularly when united around a specific issue, can have on the legislative process.
It's important for all of us to consider how we can use this energy and power to impact the legislative process in 1998 especially considering that it will be an election year for the House of Representatives and 50% of the Senate. We'll have a more detailed update on several specific 1997 legislative measures in the next Voter.
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