Each year, I hire someone to assist me and my staff with the heavy workload during the legislative session, which runs from January into the first week of May. This is a temporary, full time position in the Capitol, and the pay is not bad.
The legislative session is a blur of activity in which thousands of bills are introduced and processed in a very short time. Each bill is referred to the appropriate subject matter committees and the committee chair determines if the measure will receive a hearing or die a quiet death by lack of action.
For any bill to advance, it must have at least one public hearing in the Senate. Upon completion of the hearing, the Chair may recommend the measure be passed “as-is” or “with amendments,” defer decision making to another time, or defer indefinitely, effectively killing the bill. Almost never is a bill actually voted down in committee.
My staff helps me sift through the thousands of bills by reading each one and the public testimony, and briefing me before each hearing. I serve on three committees in the afternoon and the important Ways and Means Committee in the morning. Between these committee schedules is the daily floor session of the entire Senate. Needless to say, there is not much time to review and prepare for the dozens of measures that come up for vote each day.
Fortunately, most bad ideas end up failing to survive the very quick deadlines needed for passage through multiple Senate and House committee and floor votes. It is easy to vote Yes for good bills and innocuous measures. It is much more difficult to vigorously oppose leadership or other powerful interests when they want to pass a misguided bill. This is where good research and attention to detail by my staff becomes extremely valuable to my work.
An exciting energy fills the Capitol when the regular session is underway. Many people come back each year to work the session because they enjoy being in the middle of the action where new laws are debated and considered, the public weighs in with suggestions, opposition and support and nobody is ever really sure what will survive to become law.
The committees on which I serve are Ways and Means, Water and Land, Agriculture and Environment, and Hawaiian Affairs. Occasionally, we debate bills on the Senate Floor, but It is in the committees that I can ask questions and have the best chance to influence the outcome of any given measure.
Margarete Olson is my Office Manager and Maxx Phillips is my Policy Advisor. They are extremely good at their jobs and are a joy to work with. Of course, we handle constituent concerns to the best of our ability all year long, including the intense months during session. If you are interested in working with us this year, please call 586-7330 to learn more and to find out how to apply.