Don’t Like the Laws? Change Them.

Residents get tips on how to work within the system.
By Sean Aronson

Molokai residents know how to wage political battles and have cut their teeth on a variety of hotly contested issues over the years. They’ve learned that often times the most successful campaigns involve working within the system to affect change. And being as strategic and smart about the legislative process can give residents the upper hand.

With that goal in mind, about a dozen people showed up for a seminar to better learn how to stay up to date with Hawaii politics. Virginia Beck, of the Hawaii State Capitol, was on hand to provide information on everything from utilizing the state government website to what kinds of things to consider when writing a letter to your representatives in the legislature.

Letter writing tips include:

• Research the issues you care about on the web to see what bills have been introduced on related topics. (www.capitol.hawaii.gov)
• Don’t be afraid if you’re not an expert on your issue.
• It’s ok to be nervous
• Practice writing your letter and have someone else look it over.
• Be passionate, but try to keep emotions out of it as much as possible
• Stick to the facts
• Provide solutions whenever possible

“For a democracy to work well, citizens must be involved,” said Beck, ending the workshop.

The event was put on by the Public Access Room (PAR), a place in the legislative building devoted to you, the public. While there you can browse current laws, use reference materials and talk to expert staff. It’s basically a library devoted to the legislature.

To contact your Molokai representatives: House: Mele Carrol, repcarroll@capitol.hawaii.gov. 586-6790 or Senate: J. Kalani. English, senenglish@capitol.hawaii.gov. 587-7225.

For those who would like more information, Beck encourages them to check out PAR’s website at www.hawaii.gov/lbr/par. Or they can contact the office by phone at 1-800-468-4644.

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