POSITION IN BRIEF
Action to support a part-time citizen legislature whose structure and procedures will insure responsiveness, openness and efficiency in government. Support a split session, procedures to eliminate duplication of bills, and to limit the number of bills introduced.
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii believes that changes in our present legislative structure are necessary to insure more responsiveness, openness, and efficiency in government. We favor a part-time citizen legislature, meeting in split session to permit a recess after bills are introduced, so that legislators and constituents may have time to consider and study the proposed legislation. We support procedures which would eliminate the duplication of bills and limit the number of bills introduced in a session.
(Consensus, Spring 1977)
Amended by State Convention, May 1981)
Following the 1975 state convention, the state board authorized the study of unicameralism and other legislative issues. The League did not reach agreement to support a unicameral legislature, but there was agreement on other improvements in legislative machinery,
A split legislative session, which the League position supported, was recommended by the 1978 Con Con, ratified by the voters, and put into effect during the 1979 legislative session.
Since adoption of the Legislative Reform position, the League has annually joined with several other citizen lobby groups to address problems in the legislative process, and the excessive number of bills and resolutions.
In 1984 the League supported two constitutional amendments: one to permit more flexibility in setting deadlines for bill introduction; and the other to authorize lawmakers to take two or more short recesses during the session. The first passed; the second did not.
In 1988 and 1989 the League turned its attention to the need to improve neighbor island access to the legislative process. Our efforts contributed to creation of the Fair Access Commission that held hearings around the state and made recommendations for improved access to state government.
The League is also a member of the Coalition on Legislative Reform that seeks to improve the legislative process and reduce barriers in citizen involvement. The legislative leadership has responded to these efforts by providing computer access, toll-free telephone, fax facilities for testimony, increased print shop hours, and public access room at the capitol.
In addition, the legislative timetable was altered by instituting an earlier bill introduction deadline, expanding the use of recess days, adjusting the decking deadlines, and increasing year-round legislative staffing. These and other measures were undertaken to allow the public earlier access to the legislative process.
Unicameralism and other Legislative Reforms. League of Women Voters of Hawaii, 1976