Building a Better Business Climate

The Chamber’s Business Advocacy team works hard to protect employers from increasing business costs, support the progress of new industries and sectors, and create an environment that will attract new business, promote competition and stimulate expansion of the private sector to provide increased employment and workforce development opportunities.

The Business Advocacy team also coordinates educational forums, legislative trainings, public policy events and opportunities to interface with government and business leaders.

To contact the Chamber’s Business Advocacy Department, please email us or call (808) 380-2617.

Legislative Action Alerts

The Chamber’s legislative Action Alerts are emailed to members when their action is needed during session. Action Alerts enable members to send testimony on bills scheduled for hearings and letters to their legislators, all in a few minutes. A description of the bill, a written message and recipients of the messages (e.g., committee chairs, members’ legislators) are pre-set in the alerts. All members have to do is fill out their contact information, insert basic information in the pre-written letter and click “send.”

Your voice will make a difference. The business community cannot afford to stay silent.

Click here to sign up to receive Action Alerts.

Small Business Council

80% of Chamber members are small businesses and we’re working to elevate the small business now more than ever. We are convening a Small Business Council to ensure that your voices are heard. If you are interested in joining the Small Business Council please email us.

Policy Committee

The Policy Committee helps determine the Chamber’s legislative priorities and are comprised of member volunteers throughout the state. The Policy Committee covers the following areas:

  • Infrastructure, Transportation, Quality of Life
  • Workplace Environment & Competitiveness
  • Workforce Development & Education
  • Small Business, Entrepreneurship Advocacy, Economic Development & Innovation
  • Manufacturing in Hawaii

If you are interested in joining the Policy Committee please email us.

How to Contact Your Legislator

Submit Testimony

Change happens when you participate in the legislative process. It only takes a few minutes to voice your concerns and make a difference. One way to participate is to submit testimony on bills when they are scheduled for a hearing. Here’s how you can submit testimony:

Chamber’s Legislative Action Alerts 

Submit Online Testimony

  • Click here to create an account on the Hawaii State Capitol website.
  • After creating an account, search for the bill you want to testify for, and follow online steps to attach or write in your testimony.

Hearing Notices

  • Submit testimony via the link provided on the e-version of the hearing notice.
  • Fax testimony to the contact information provided on the hearing notice.
  • Deliver the specific number of copies of written testimony to the appropriate office listed on the hearing notice.

Testify at Hearing

Nothing is more compelling than having businesses personally state their position to legislators. We can assist by contacting you when bills are scheduled, calling you if a hearing is running late or helping you prepare testimony.

  • Prepare oral testimony in advance.
  • Introduce yourself, briefly describe your business and state your position.
  • Summarize your written testimony at the hearing.
  • Be prepared for questions and if you don’t know the answer, just say so. You can get the information to committee members later. It is important to be honest and forthright.
  • Express your feelings in a professional manner. Provide examples of how the bill will affect your business.
  • Scheduled hearings may run late, so expect long waits.
  • Generally, each chair follows the order of the bills listed on the agenda, and the order in which they received the written testimony.

Guidelines to Keep in Mind

  • Written testimony should be submitted at least 24 hours prior to the hearing (if not within 24 hours, testimony will be considered LATE).
  • Send a copy of your testimony to your own legislator and other legislators you may know.
  • In your written testimony, include the following information:
        • Chair of the House or Senate Committee
        • Name of the House or Senate Committee
        • Day and date of hearing
        • Your name and company
        • Position on the measure
How to Find Your Legislator
Communication Tips

Writing a Letter or E-mail

  • Write on business letterhead (if possible) and include your signature and typed name
  • Address letter to: The Honorable (full name)
  • In the salutation, write: “Dear Senator or Representative ”
  • If you are a constituent, mention it in the first paragraph or if sending an e-mail, include it in the subject line
  • Keep the letter to one-page unless you have important data to attach
  • Provide a brief explanation on the bill or issue that affects you
  • In the e-mail subject line, include bill number and name of your company

Making Phone Calls and Scheduling Meetings

  • Don’t hesitate to call legislators
  • When setting up a meeting, ask to speak with the scheduler
  • State your reason(s) for the call/meeting
  • If you are a constituent or have a business in the legislator’s district, mention it
  • Be respectful
  • Avoid making disparaging or rude comments

Top Priorities during the 2021 Legislative Session

Bills that may impact you

  • HB 1278, HD1 Unemployment Insurance – Chamber Supports
    • Bill Description: Amends the definitions of benefit year and week. Conforms the manner of filing claims for partial benefits to the same as for total or part-total benefits. Provides relief for certain reimbursable employers. Requires the director of labor and industrial relations to omit benefits charged for experience rating for employers due to the event of COVID-19 in calendar years 2021 and 2022. For calendar years 2021 and 2022, sets the employer contribution rate at schedule D. Makes amendments to contribution rate schedule and procedure for determination retroactive to 1/1/2021. (HD1)

  • HB 1253 HD2 Employment Practices – Mobile App – Chamber Comments
    • Bill Description: Prohibits an employer from: requiring an employee to download a mobile application to the employee’s personal communication device that enables the employee’s location to be tracked or their personal information revealed; terminating or otherwise discriminating against an employee for refusing to download a mobile application on their personal device; or discharging or discriminating against an employee for filing a complaint concerning these unlawful practices.
  • SB 679 Mandatory Family Leave – Chamber Opposes
    • Bill Description: Extends TDI to extend benefits to family leave and provides employees with up to 8 weeks of paid family leave during a one-year period paid through an employer based private insurance program currently used to provide for temporary disability benefits
  • SB 1265 & 1266 General Excise Tax – Chamber Opposes
    • Bill Description: Increases the general excise tax to 4.5%. 

Legislative Agenda

At the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, we are tracking 161 House and 126 Senate bills, and testifying on more than 30 bills thus far.

View our Legislative Agenda for our top priorities.

Minimum Wage Increase Bills

Timing is everything. Right now, the focus should be on economic recovery, not making it harder for our small business community, especially for industries who have been most impacted by the shutdowns and restrictions.

A minimum wage increase amongst other proposals to increase the cost of doing business, if passed, will further decimate an already fragile economy.

Oftentimes not discussed when speaking about minimum wage is the cost of healthcare. Hawaii is the only state with a prepaid healthcare mandate for employees that work 20 hours or more. This costs on average $6,000 per employee annually, adding a minimum of $3 per hour to each employee’s hourly wage. The cost is continuing to rise, while the percentage that an employee contributes remains the same. Healthcare costs are often overlooked as an employee benefit when talking about the costs of doing business.

Additionally, an increase in wages is tied to increased costs for other mandates, such as workers’ compensation, temporary disability, unemployment insurance, payroll taxes and other voluntary benefit programs. Add this up and we are talking about more than $17 per hour.

Take Action by getting your voice heard by legislators HERE.

 

Voice of Business Packet

To help businesses take action on the minimum wage increase bills, we have created a “Voice of Business” packet, which includes the following items:

  1. Voice of Business – Information
  2. Voice of Business – Submitting a Testimony
  3. Voice of Business – Call Your Legislators
  4. Voice of Business – Writing to your Legislators
  5. Voice of Business – Letters to the Editor
  6. Voice of Business – Social Media Graphics and Copy
  7. Folder: Social Media Graphics

DOWNLOAD THE PACKET HERE

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