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President's Message
Volunteers Needed for League Advocacy at Legislature (Jean Aoki)
McElrath to Address Women's Committee (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Voter Service (Jean Aoki)
Gambling (HCALG) Report (Grace Furukawa)
League of the Future is Online (Stephen Trussel)
Education Committee (Mary Anne Raywid)
Lunch 'n' Learn the Law
LWV Maui Co-Chair Attends UN Human Rights Council (Joshua Cooper)
Modern Look of League (Jason Stein)
Chapter Reports - Hawaii (Marianna Scheffer)
Chapter Reports - Honolulu (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Chapter Reports - Maui (Joshua Cooper)

Volunteers Needed for League Advocacy at Legislature

You know how the saying goes – "Damned if you do and damned if you don't." That's the plight of the Legislature. If they pass a certain piece of legislation, they're damned by one segment of the population. Not pass it, and they're labeled a do-nothing body by those who supported it.

We do have to believe that the voice of the people has some influence on the decisions made by our lawmakers. Some groups or classes of people may speak more loudly (all connotations of the phrase "more loudly" intended), and garner more attention, but no one should give up the attempt.

Let me give you an example of lobbying efforts that worked. When I read about all of the errors experienced by precincts across the country in the recent election, I'm so happy that the legislation that gave us the verifiable paper trail, gave Hawaii the ability to audit manually randomly-selected ballots to check against the machine count, and if and when necessary, do a complete recount.

This did not happen by chance. Bart Dame, a Democrat activist, blazed the pathway to its success, energizing citizen supporters, meeting with legislators, following the bill tenaciously as it advanced through the legislative process.

We Need More League Voices

We are fortunate in having Mary Anne Raywid advocating good education policies, and Suzanne Meisenzahl back taking care of women's issues.

Grace Furukawa will be tracking gambling bills and Jackie Parnell will be pushing certain housing bills and help for the homeless.

We desperately need members willing to advocate on behalf of League positions on what we call good-government issues – ethics, campaign finance, open government, elections, and civil rights. There may be some of you who are ready and willing to review bills and prepare testimony on certain topics like environment or elections. Great, we sure can use you.

For those who have had no experience whatsoever appearing before the Legislature, it’s a "learn while doing" kind of thing. I would be happy to help anyone, even if initially you want to address only one bill and follow it through the legislative process. The important thing is to be comfortable in what you are doing.

We have resources in the office and on our website – old testimony, resource books, folders full of clippings, etc., We can point you to the right resource person who can explain a certain law or how a process works. You would be surprised how cooperative and helpful people who work in various government agencies can be.

Without Citizen Participation,
Some Good Things May Never Have Happened

In the early nineties, when the state was "financially insecure," and "frills" were out, and I was a green neophyte, a group of us representing different organizations were out to add more transparency in government and to encourage more participation in the legislative process by citizens. 'Olelo was in its second year of a two-year project, funding and staffing the cable-casting of selected legislative hearings and floor sessions, and the Access Room was run by volunteer groups – League, Common Cause, and some others in a very small, poorly equipped room.

In that climate, we fought for state funding of the cable-casting of legislative proceedings, and the permanent staffing and equipping of the Access Room. I remember the day I heard that the funding for the cablecast program was in jeopardy. I relayed this to Larry Meacham of Common Cause and we quickly called a meeting of likely supporters. Larry arranged for a press conference at the end of the meeting, and as we marched down and out to the entrance to meet the press, others joined us until we had a small 'mob.' But we did it. We saved the funding for the program. And this same group of supporters and others helped make the Access Room a permanent part of the legislative budget. Who knows what would have happened if we hadn't been there.

League Needs You

We're counting on many of you responding to this call. If you have any inclinations toward the role of an advocate, come test the waters. You won't know until you've tried. And you will help League meet its commitments to our community.

Jean Aoki

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