Maui’s Judge Bissen is First Testifier in Legislative Pilot Project

March 16, 2016, 8:38 AM HST · Updated March 16, 1:09 PM
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Maui Judge Richard Bissen. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui Judge Richard Bissen. File photo by Wendy Osher.

In a first-of-its-kind, pilot project the state house accepted video testimony from neighbor island residents during a committee hearing today.

Maui Judge Richard Bissen was the first video testifier, speaking in support of his initiative to incorporate the Hawaiian language into the Judiciary website.

“(This bill) is about promoting respect for the Hawaiian people by promoting respect for the Hawaiian language,” said Judge Bissen from his office on Maui.

The measure was introduced by Representative Kaniela Ing of Maui before the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs.

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Rep. Ing (Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena) spearheaded the project along with his vice-chair Rep. Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona) and expressed its importance to his Maui constituents saying:

“As a Maui legislator, I know first-hand the difficulty and cost of flying to Honolulu to testify on issues that matter to my neighbors,” Ing said.  “Technologies like Facetime and webinars have become so simple and intuitive, that we have a duty to leverage these 21st century technologies to make sure all citizens in our state are have a voice.”

Legislative leaders say the video testimony is the first of its kind in the legislature, and simply requires a laptop with a camera and internet connection.

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While the pilot is currently limited to a single committee, lawmakers are considering expansion of the program to implement it in all committees in both chambers.

Ing pointed to a survey sent by his office in 2014, where more than 93 percent of his respondents were in support of the project.  Ing said that the cost of the test project came from previously allocated monies in the internal legislative budget and adds no additional costs to taxpayers.

“This common-sense initiative will give everyone of all backgrounds and income levels a voice at the Capitol.  I’m proud that our committee has led the way on this project, and offer my gratitude to the House Clerk and Information Technologies offices for helping me make it happen.  My hopes is to see this technology expand to all committees.”

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