The Conversation: Lawmakers' Priorities at the Hawaii State Legislature 2021

Jan 15, 2021

Improved public access at the state Legislature; Priorities from the Hawaii Senate; Reality Check with Civil Beat: Audit slams Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp.; Hawaii Island doctor shortage worsens

Hawaii State Representative Della Au Belatti
Credit Facebook/State Representative Della Au Belatti

Improved public access at the state Legislature

House and Senate leadership have been working nonstop since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you recall, legislators were forced to work remotely as the Capitol shut down when one lawmaker tested positive for the virus. That meant public access was curtailed. Rep. Della Au Belatti is the House Majority Leader. She talks to us about what the House is doing to improve technological access as it moves to begin the work of the people.

Credit Facebook/Senator J. Kalani English

Priorities from the Hawaii Senate

The Hawaii House and Senate each operate with their own rules. House members will meet in person with proper distancing. In contrast, the Senate will be able to vote remotely. Sen. Kalani English the Senate Majority Leader. He tells us about public access and sustainable development goals during this year's legislative session.

Feedback on coverage of Proud Boys Hawaii founder

Federal authorities arrested Nicholas Ochs, founder of Proud Boys Hawaii, for his involvement at the U.S. Capitol riot and insurrection last week in Washington, D.C. Earlier this week, The Conversation covered his appearance in court and replayed an excerpt from an interview by HPR's Noe Tanigawa three years ago. At the time, he was organizing a chapter of that right-wing extremist group the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a hate group. Here is some of the feedback we received, and HPR News Director Bill Dorman responds to the criticism.

Reality Check with Civil Beat: Audit slams Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp. 

The state agency set up to help convert Hawaii's agriculture lands from plantations producing mainly pineapple and sugar for export to more economically viable farms growing a variety of crops has failed in its mission, an audit released Thursday found. Civil Beat reporter Stewart Yerton goes into the details of the latest state audit. Click here to read the story at CivilBeat.org.

Credit DarkoStojanovic / Pexels

  Hawaii Island doctor shortage worsens

The doctor shortage on the Big Island has grown nearly 40 percent since 2007. That's according to research on Hawaii Island's health workforce over the years. Big Island doctors say the high cost of living, heavy tax burden, and low reimbursements have created a bad situation that's likely to only get worse amid a global pandemic. HPR's Kuuwehi Hiraishi joins us with more on this alarming trend.