Becoming an effective citizen activist, you must learn how to track a measure you’re interested in, and that requires knowing how our State Legislature works.  Here are the steps you can take to prepare yourself for the Legislative session.

Step 1 – Hawaii State Legislature: A Quick Overview. The government of the State of Hawaii is structured with a system of checks and balances so that power is not confined to just one branch. There are three separate but equal branches whose powers are outlined in the Constitution of the State of Hawaii.

Know your State government

Step 2 – Create your account on the Legislature’s website that will allow you to track measures and submit vital testimony.

Register for an Account on the Legislature’s Website

Step 3 – Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the Legislature’s website.

Hawaii Legislature Website Guide ~ A Gateway to the Capitol

Step 4 – Familiarize yourself with how a bill or resolution are handled.  Also learn how to use the Measure Tracking Tool to allow you to follow those bills or resolutions you’re interested in.

What does it take for a bill to become law?

Exploring Resolution

How to create a Measure Tracking List

Step 5 – Sign up to receive email notification of upcoming committee hearings.  This is a great way to be made aware when a measure you’re interested in is going to receive a committee hearing so that you can submit testimony and/or attend the hearing to testify in person.

Receive Hearing Notices via Email

Step 6 – Learn how to write and submit testimony online.

How to Write Testimony

Submit Testimony Online


Addendum 1 – State Senate

Addendum 2 – State House of Representatives

Addendum 3 – A Participant’s Guide: Organization & Function of the Legislature

Addendum 4 – A Participant’s Guide: Walk through Session

Addendum 5 – Your Voice

Addendum 6 – Anatomy of a Bill

Addendum 7 – We the Powerful

Addendum 8 – How a Bill Becomes Law in Hawaii


“We the Powerful”– A workshop on how to participate in the State of Hawai`i’s legislative process. Presented by Suzanne Marinelli, Coordinator, Hawai`i State Legislature’s Public Access Room.

PART 1 Introduction to the Public Access Room (PAR ) and Suzanne Marinelli.

Meet Public Access Coordinator Suzanne Marinelli as she gives an overview of the Public Access Room (PAR), the PAR website ( and the resources PAR provides. (9:57)

PART 2 Legislators: Who Are They and What do They Do?

Find out how lawmakers serve the public, and how to find more information on legislators via the tremendously improved website. Learn how we as citizens can participate in our government. (9:16)

PART 3 Communicating Your Ideas

Learn to convey information effectively by letter, phone, or testimony. Also, how to make good use of the calendar year – both during session and the interim. Introduction to the “Bicycle Bill,” an example of converting an idea into proposed legislation. (9:33)

PART 4 Bill Introduction & How a Bill Becomes a Law

Outlines where to start if interested in introducing legislation. Provides a brief overview of the steps a bill needs to proceed through in order to become law; describes committee assignments, drafts and the three readings process. (10:34)

PART 5 How a Bill Becomes a Law (Continued)

Starting from Second Reading, describes the path of a bill as it goes through vital deadlines such as First and Second Crossover. Explains the drafts and revision process. Explores methods of keeping the essence of a bill alive if the measure has missed a deadline. (9:14)

PART 6 Using the Website, Status Sheet Explanations, Measure Tracking

Directions for navigating the Legislature’s website, a demonstration on how to read status sheets and a tutorial on using additional options such as “measure tracking” once logged in. (10:07)

PART 7 More on Navigating the Legislature’s Website

Using the “Lists and Reports” icon (referred to in the video as the “Bill Status Reports” icon), exploring the Archives, Links and the online Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS). (9:37)

PART 8 Testimony

Directions and discussion on submitting testimony when a bill or resolution has been scheduled for a hearing. (6:25)

PART 9 Participating at the Legislature, Q & A

Tips and advice on participating at the Legislature, followed by the conclusion of the presentation. Questions from the audience. (7:23)

Hawaii Public Access Room

Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau