Hawaiʻi Lawmakers Meet with President Obama at National Summit
Several Hawaiʻi lawmakers were among more than 50 Democratic lawmakers from around the nation that met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015.
The Hawaiʻi lawmakers were in Washington, DC to participate in discussions on how the states can address issues including raising the minimum wage, paid family leave and sick days for workers, expanding pre-Kindergarten education, college affordability, and reforming licensing laws to allow more people to get jobs.
During the meeting, the President encouraged the group to push for domestic policy change at the state level.
The Hawaiʻi delegation included: State Senators Will Espero (ʻEwa Beach, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ʻEwa Villages) and Jill Tokuda (Kaneʻohe, Kaneʻohe MCAB, Kailua, Heʻeia, ʻAhuimanu); along with State Representative Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo).
“The meetings with the White House staff were productive and informative. Hawai’i families are counting on us to make good policy and improve the quality of life where they live. I look forward to working with the President to pass legislation which supports working men and women and families in our state,” said Sen. Espero.
Sen. Tokuda said the meeting “was a good opportunity to connect with senior White House officials and lawmakers from other states to discuss how we can move forward on important issues like paid leave, early childhood education and criminal justice reform. These discussions were timely as we head towards our legislative session and prepare priorities and bills that will be introduced in concert with local and national efforts.”
Rep. Lee said, “Issues like paid family leave and medical leave aren’t red or blue issues. They will benefit everyone and are overwhelmingly supported by people around the country, but Congress has been unable to take action. Families in our community are hurting. I have friends just starting families who are being forced to choose between caring for their newborns or keeping their jobs. That isn’t right. The United States is the last developed nation in the world without meaningful paid family leave. If Congress won’t act to fix that, then it’s up to us at the state level.”
Lawmakers also left a token of the aloha spirit at the White House. Following the meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the President was given a Hawaiʻi State Senate commemorative coin by Sen. Espero as a memento of his island home.