Keith Marrack, HICC President-Elect and Government Affairs Committee Chair
District 3 County Council Member Sue Lee Loy and County Clerk Jon Henricks joined the Government Affairs Committee on August 17 to provide insights into the operation of the County Council. They started with some basics.
- There are 9 council districts with approximately 22,500 people residing in each district. The districts were redrawn in December 2021 and will be redrawn every ten years.
- The council members representing each district serve two-year terms, and may serve up to four consecutive terms.
- The County Charter (Ariticle III) requires the council to meet at least twice a month, once in East Hawaii and once in West Hawaii. Meetings are typically held on the first and third Wednesdays at 9:00 am.
All nine members of the council serve on all the council committees (Finance, Planning, Health & Safety, etc.). This allows for extensive deliberations and refinements of resolutions and bills (through amendments) before they are brought to the regular meeting of the council for decision making. Committee schedules vary based on content and workload and only convene as necessary. They are typically held the day (Tuesday) before the regular meeting.
While we were told that changes can still be made and testimony given at the regular council meetings, it sounds like most of the decision making is done in committee. In order to have the biggest impact, I feel it is imperative to give testimony while the issues are being discussed in committee. So how do we give testimony.
- Written via email or letter. (I know from personal experience that my emails are read and responded to.)
- In person at one of the two Council Chambers at the Hilo County Building or the West Hawaii Civic Center. Additionally, testimony can be provided at the courtesy sites in Pahoa and Kapa’au.
- Via zoom – credentials and access are provided upon request.
To find information on upcoming meetings and the agendas, go to the County website hawaiicounty.gov/our-county/legislative/county-council. Here you can also find information on each council district, contact information, how to testify, access to bills, resolutions, reports, minutes, etc. You can also livestream meetings.
I realize that I am only scratching the surface and need to dive into the website myself, so please share your insights with the GAC and bring forward any bills that being discussed that we should be weighing in on.
GAC meetings are typically held on the 3rd Thursday of the month from 12:00 – 1:00. That being said, our next meeting is scheduled for Friday, September 22. UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin will be sharing an update on enrollment, the school of business, and answer questions. If you are interested in joining the GAC, please contact Miles or Carla at the chamber office.