Legislative Bills About Constituents, Not Authors


Rep’n Mililani…Rep. Beth Fukumoto

The legislative session ended a little over a month ago, and now is the time where politicians everywhere start comparing whose name was on the most bills that passed and whose initiatives didn’t make it past the first month of session.

It’s something we all do, because it is one of the more tangible accomplishments that we can take back to our constituents.

I was fortunate enough, as a freshman legislator, to have bills pass with my name on them, to have some of my own initiatives last until the end of session and to have money coming into my district for schools and other projects. But, as I sat down to write about those accomplishments, I recalled a quote I’ve heard many times, usually attributed to President Harry Truman, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Being a legislator is about much more than passing bills with your name on them. It’s about working with other legislators and your constituents to make good policy whether or not you get the credit for doing it. Most bills go through various committees and get changed numerous times based on feedback from the public and other legislators. By the time most bills become a law, lots of people have had the opportunity to give input and help shape the legislation. The legislative session is, at its best, a collaborative process, which makes it difficult for any one person to take credit and makes it very important for legislators to solicit constituent input on issues.

This session, I sent out a survey to the people in my district that asked them about their opinions on some of the major issues on which we would be making decisions.

It was very beneficial to have my constituents’ input as I voted on measures, and as I worked with other legislators to improve bills as they moved through our committees.

My votes reflected my constituents’ opinions on the issues. In one case, I voted no on a bill that I co-introduced — same-day registration — because the survey showed that many of my constituents didn’t support changes to the voter registration laws at this time, and the reservations I had about the final version of the bill mirrored my constituents’ concerns.

More than getting my name on as many bills as possible, I believe that being a voice for my constituents and a true representative of their opinions is the most important job I have as a legislator. Politicians may care about whose name is first, but most of our constituents just want to see work get done and know that their voice is heard.

Of course, if people do want to know the details of bills I supported and projects that are receiving funding, it is all available on my website, repbeth.com, along with additional legislative and community updates.

Just remember, successes never belong to just one person, and mine are all made possible by the support of people like you and my colleagues in the Legislature.

Call Rep. Fukumoto at 586-9460 or email repfukumoto@capital.hawaii.gov.