Money Committees

Anyone who is involved in the legislative process at the state level in Hawaii is anxiously awaiting one of the first very large internal deadlines this coming Friday. It is known as first decking. It is a time when bills will either remain viable or not be heard from again (potentially). It is a time of great rejoicing and great sadness. The House of Representative’s “money” committee, the Finance Committee, embarks on a marathon lasting five days of all day hearings that stretch late into the night (it is 10:50 p.m. right now and they are just finishing up decision making on today’s hearings.) I give the members a lot of credit. It is a lot of time invested. They listen to a lot of testimony and they are the most transparent committee as all of their hearings are televised live on one of the local public access stations as well as livestreaming online. Because of this open access, I have to admit that I am a confirmed Finance junkie. I have it on all day at work, on my computer, regardless of whether there are any bills of interest on the scheduled agendas. When I come home, I put it on the TV; it is on right now as I am typing. Just recently someone I know described Finance hearings as compelling, I, obviously agree completely.

Today, one of my co-workers was out sick. We are a department of three so we were sort of scrambling around figuring out how to cover the hearings, meetings and workload. I ended up down at the state capitol for the Senate money committee’s decision making hearing (Ways and Means) and then off to a meeting featuring a nationally renowned speaker. In the middle of that meeting, I received a text to head over to the Finance Committee hearing. And then there I was, at Finance, standing on testimony, called to the table for some Q&A, trying to keep my cool, not shake and provide relevant, intelligent answers. There is something about Finance, being at that table. You know you are on TV. The table is huge and there are many legislators on the Committee itself. I won’t deny that I get flustered and I was glad to leave Finance and go back to being just an observer.

I have to admit that I went straight from the hearing room to pay a short visit to my significant other who makes his living working at the Capitol. He had the hearing on in his office with his back to the TV and was particularly surprised to hear my voice answering a question. Me, I was glad that it was over and I was glad that he was there. I needed a bit of decompression and a hug. I got both and headed back to my office to put the Finance hearing back on my computer, before heading home and watching it on TV; just the way I like it, looking in from the outside. Finance has one more day of hearings tomorrow and it promises to be a late one. So if you are interested, tune in to see what it’s all about. I promise you won’t need a hug.

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About nematomorph

Living like the rich and famous, splitting time between Hawaii and New York.
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2 Responses to Money Committees

  1. Enkhee says:

    I fought a long hard battle to get hearings in the legislative process here in Mongolia, but it remains up to the standing committees to decide whether or not they want to hold a hearing on any given decision. The law says “standing committees may decide to hold hearings” and that magic “may” allows them to basically forget about hearings. They dont see the point in investing their time and energy into something that does not seem very helpful. Mongolia’s legislative process is nothing like yours. There is no first or final decking. There is no certainty or predictability. Everything happens on a rolling basis. It is hard to keep track of the things happening. And I am at a crossroads to decide what to do next. Do I go to policy makers and educate them how hearings can be useful. Or do I have to think about straightening up the legislative process first, introducing certainty and predictability, deadlines and discipline? I wish I looked at things a little more closely when I was in Hawaii. I was young and stupid, apparently.

    • nematomorph says:

      You are my hero! I love that you are fighting for what many people here take for granted. And yes, the difference between a “may” and a “shall” is huge. Maybe you were young when you were here, but definitely not stupid. Let me know if there are any reference materials that I could provide you about the legislative process here in Hawaii.

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