Focus On Economy Will Mark Next Session

Sen. Michelle Kidani

In just a few short weeks, the new year will begin and the state Legislature will convene to set priorities for the budget year that begins July 1. If you are like me, it may seem that this year has gone by quickly. Part of that, I believe, is that although our session runs through 60 official business days from mid-January through early May, our work at the Capitol is a year-round occupation. Hearings have proceeded in the interim, and in December and early January we’ll get a first look at an executive spending plan before beginning a more detailed review in our budget sessions.

The Senate has already organized with Sen. Shan Tsutsui of Maui as our senate president. Again in 2013, I will serve as Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, with responsibility for the Senate’s construction budget. Our priority will again be on those projects that can accelerate and stabilize our economic recovery and help to create job opportunities for those still seeking employment. The recent news about Hawaii’s economy is encouraging. We welcome the Governor’s announced intention to restore funding to social services programs that were severely cut during the period of economic stress in 2008-2010.

A successful legislative session depends on citizen participation, and I encourage your input as we proceed with our work. I encourage you to contact me if you have questions or suggestions about the decisions we will make that affect all of us.

A good way to stay informed is through the Legislature’s website. With its redesign and upgrade about a year ago, the site has been awarded top honors as the nation’s best legislative site. The Online Democracy Award from the National Conference of State Legislatures was presented earlier this year at the NCSL Legislative Summit in Chicago. The Hawaii site stood out to the panel of judges for the extensive amount of information available, including a guide for first-time users, explanations about how to use various features, a citizens’ guide and a legislative glossary that makes it easy for residents of all ages to participate in the legislative process. Try it – you’ll like it! https://www.capitol.hawaii.g ov.

Finally this month, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the dedicated service to Mililani rendered by Rep. Marilyn Lee. Marilyn succeeded her husband, Sam, in the State House when he retired in 1996; served our Mililani community honorably and effectively for eight terms. Marilyn and I worked together on many projects for Mililani, and we attended countless official and social community events to meet our neighbors and to learn about how their needs could be better served. Marilyn and her late husband, Sam, leave a significant legacy of public service, and we are grateful for their years of dedication to Mililani and our state. I know Rep. Lee will continue serving our community in various ways.

Contact Sen. Kidani at senkidani@capitol.hawaii.g ov, or at her office at Room 228 at the State Capitol, telephone 586-7100.