Jan. 17, 2024 By Diane Ako |

HONOLULU (Island News) — Hundreds of people in the community came to the State Capitol on Wednesday morning. For some, it was a real-life lesson in government. For others, it was a way to show support for the Legislature on this opening day. And for many, it was a chance to meet lawmakers who will be voting on bills that impact various industries.

Opening day brings energy and enthusiasm from many segments of society. Some, like nonprofit Hawaii Workers Center, set up a booth to educate passers-by about the working middle class.

Tom O’Malley explained, “I’m just here doing a demonstration on how wealth is distributed in the country,” while referencing plastic slices of pie and plates labeled with various income brackets. He was also giving out real pie to anyone who wanted to play his guessing game. O’Malley’s hopes for this session are “just that the Legislature represents the average person in Hawaii.”

After the long actors and writers strike last year, the local Screen Actors Guild president says she’ll be lobbying for bills that boost the local entertainment industry.

Andrea Sikkink says SAG-AFTRA will be “watching the ones that’ll increase our tax credit and our competitiveness in the market. There’s a lot of other states offering tax credits.”

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii has more than 2,000 member companies statewide that employ 200,000 workers. It’s following any bills that affect businesses and the workforce.

President & CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara details, “Our legislative agenda focuses on the cost of doing business, cost of living, work-based learning opportunities, addressing a workforce shortage, and help rebuild Hawaii’s economy.”

The Hawaii Alcohol Policy Alliance (HIAPA or The Alliance) plans to oppose bills this session that advance alcohol industry-initiated bills. It’s concerned about any laws that “would loosen alcohol regulations for their financial gain at the expense of the community’s well-being,” according to its spokesperson.

As the statewide organization dedicated to advocating for evidence-based, responsible alcohol policies to create safer communities, HIAPA returns to the Capitol — along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others — to urge passage of legislation to prevent alcohol-related traffic fatalities and injuries, specifically a bill to lower the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for driving from 0.08 to 0.05 percent. This is the fourth consecutive session HIAPA has supported such a bill.

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