By Wendy Osher
Two bills aimed at providing more legislative access for neighbor island residents passed out of key committees.
- House Bill 358, relating to video-conferencing, requires both the House and Senate to implement rules to permit residents to present testimony through audiovisual technology. A pilot program  to that effect is currently being used in select senate committees this session.
- House Bill 361 requires the governor, legislature and judiciary to ensure public access to information, services and proceedings. The bill also authorizes the governor to convene a Fair Access Commission to review public access issues for the neighbor islands and rural Oahu.
The bills now move on to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.
“These bills were introduced to help make it easier for neighbor island residents to actively participate in the legislative process,” said Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau).
“Neighbor island residents have to fly to Oahu on short notice and at their own expense if they want to testify before the legislature in person. For many people, that isn’t possible, and the result is that we don’t hear from them. Advances in communication technology makes it possible to provide better access, and we should be doing all we can to put systems in place to make government as accessible as possible,” said Rep. Lowen.