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Foreign Policy Analysis
Reading and understanding the Hawaii State Legislature Status Sheets

Reading and understanding the Hawaii State Legislature Status Sheets


[MUSIC PLAYING] Aloha. It’s Professor J. And
today, I’m going to show you how to read a status sheet. What is a status sheet? It’s a one-stop shop that allows
you to find out everything that’s happened to a bill. It also gives you some
tips on figuring out who is opposing it,
where it’s going next. First, I’ll show you how
to find a status sheet, then I’ll show you
how to interpret it. Finding the status sheet is
easy with the Legislature’s new website. You take a look at the first box
in the upper left-hand corner that says Bill Status
slash Measure Status. The reason it includes
Measure Status is because the Legislature
also takes a look at things called concurrent
resolutions and resolutions. And those are the other
measures referred to here. But for our purposes, we’re just
going to take a look at bills because bills have the force and
effect of law and resolutions don’t. So we would put a bill number
in here, let’s say this one. And click Go. And that would take us
to the status sheet. So let me walk you
through this because this is a dynamic
information packed page. But you have to
know how to read it. The first thing you’re
going to see on the top is the bill number. And then if it currently
has any drafts, you’re going to see an
SD1 for any Senate drafts and HD1 for any House drafts. In this case, there’s actually
been two House drafts. It’s SB8 Senate draft
1, House draft 2. The link here, this
PDF link, will take us to a copy of the bill if
that’s what you wanted to see, just to make sure you’re
talking about the same bill. The next thing it gives
you is the measure title, what this bill is all about. Then it gives you the report
title and description, which are two informal parts
of the bill that don’t show up in the final version but
that help people like you who are tracking what’s
happening in the bill during the session. The report title gives
you a short description of what it’s about. And the description itself
gives you few sentences about what the bill does. The next space is
for a companion bill. Sometimes identical bills are
introduced in both the House and the Senate. This most commonly happens
when you’re getting package bills introduced. People like the
Governor not allowed to introduce bills directly
because the Governor is part of the Executive department. However, the Governor
always has some bills that he or she wants to
introduce so the Governor asks the Speaker of the House and
the President of the Senate, as a courtesy, to introduce
all of his or her bills. This cluster of bills
is called a package. Actually, quite a
number of people have package bills
in the Legislature. This would include the
prosecutors and the counties. So if there’s a bill that is
a direct identical version of this bill, it would be
listed as a companion bill. If it’s part of a
package, it would be listed on this next line. And we can see there’s
no companion bill, there’s no package. It’s important to know
if there is a companion bill because sometimes you’ll
find out from the status sheet that the bill you’re
looking at has died, it failed to move out of
Committee on a timely basis. However, the same
language may very well be alive in the
companion version. So being able to spot a
companion bill and then, of course, going
to its status sheet will give you more
complete information. The next link you’ll see down
here is for current referral. Notice the word current. This depends on where the
bill is in the process. As you know, Senate bills
start out in the Senate. When the bill is
still with the Senate, the current referrals will
be the two Senate Committees. In this case, they are
not EDN and [? FIN ?], which stands for the House
Education and House Finance. The original
referrals, as you can see by looking at
the status sheet, were EDU, which is Senate
Education, and WAM, which stands for Ways and Means,
which is the Senate’s version of the Finance Committee. So when the bill is
current, that will tell you, this would have read EDU/WAM. But now that it’s in the House
because it has passed out of the Senate, as you can tell
because there is a House draft number up there, the
current referrals are for the House Committees. Why does this change over time? It changes because
the people who built the website are
assuming that if you’re coming to the status, you
may want to affect the bill, to support it or oppose it. So you’re interested in what
the current referrals are, not the past ones. OK. Let’s go onto the next one. You’ll see a number of names,
some of which are all in caps, and one of which is in
upper and lower case. Any time a bill
is introduced, it has to be signed as a primary
introducer by at least one Representative or one Senator. However, a bunch of
Representatives or Senators may think the same
bill is a great idea and will want to sign
on as a primary sponsor. This means if the
bill passes, they get to go back to their
constituents and say, I was a primary sponsor of
this very important act. Their names are all
in capital letters. Sometimes people just
want to show support, but they don’t want to be
known as a primary supporter. That’s when their name is like
Representative– sorry, that would be Senator Ryan’s
name at the end, which starts with a capital R but
then goes into lowercase. That indicates a
secondary introducer. OK. Now, let’s go a little
further down, still in the same left-hand
column, to the status sheet. We’ll take a look
at what you can get in the right-hand column
after we’re done here. This may look–
and I’ll give you a little glimpse of what
it looks like further down– a little confusing. But if you break down
what you’re seeing, it actually makes
a lot of sense. OK. Let’s just bring
this up to here. The columns list the date. The next column will
either have an S if it’s an action that
happened in the Senate or an H if it happened in the House. And then in the next column,
it will tell you what happened. So let’s go through the status
sheet one line at a time. And combined with
what you already know about the
legislative process, you’ll find that it’s
actually easy to follow. The first thing that happens
is that a bill is introduced, here it was introduced
on January 19th. It automatically
passed first reading. As you know, nothing
happens in first reading. Its only purpose is to
give control of the bill to either the
President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House so
that they can give a referral. And you can see on
the next day, this was referred to EDU and
WAM, Senate Education and Ways and Means. Apparently this was
a very popular bill because the same day,
the Education Committee scheduled a public
hearing four days later. Four days later,
you’ll see the report on what happened at the meeting. It says the Committee
recommended that the measure be passed with amendments. And then it gives you the votes. Looks like everybody
voted in favor of it. Nobody voted with reservations. Nobody voted no. And no one was excused. Two days later, it says that
it was reported from EDU with Standing Committee report
1 with recommendation of passage on second reading as amended
and referred to Ways and Means. Now, the reason
there’s a separate date for what the Committee
did on the 24th and when the report
came out two days later is because a Standing Committee
report needed to be written. Any time a bill passes out
of Committee, whether or not it’s amended, it needs a
Standing Committee report, which tells the reader
what happened to the bill. It looks as though it took
two days for this report to be drafted along
with the amendments. And so the report
was then issued. Its number is Standing
Committee report 1. And it was referred to WAM. But before it goes to
WAM, it has to go back for a second reading. So you can see that even before
it got its second reading– this is a little
unusual– on the 25th, WAM scheduled a hearing for it. On the 26th, the Standing
Committee report was adopted. And the bill passed
second reading as amended in front of the whole Chamber. The next thing you
see on the 28th is the results of
the WAM hearing. WAM recommended
that it be passed, but this time unamended. And then, of course,
it lists who voted aye. Then on the same day,
the Committee report was prepared reported from WAM. And it was recommended
that the bill be passed on third reading. There was one-day notice,
which is required before you can have a third reading. And then on the 31st
of January, the bill passed third reading
with 25 ayes. Now, this is unusual, the
speed of this is unusual. This was a bill that
the Legislature really wanted to pass. But these steps in
the same order you would find with any
bill that gets this far. So let’s take a look
and see what happened after it passed third reading. You notice that in the column
on 131, the S’s turn to H’s. And it says received from the
Senate, Senate communication number 5. Now, the control of the bill
has been transferred over to the House. And you will see very
close relationship to what you’ve seen before. On the 1st of February,
it passed first reading in the House. And on the same day, it was
referred to the EDN and Finance Committees we
talked about above. I’m going to scroll down so
we can see a little bit more. Now we’re in the House. So it was scheduled to be
heard by EDN on Monday 2-7. And then on the
4th, it looked as though it rescheduled the
bill to be heard on the 9th. And then on the 4th, it says it
was deleted from the meeting. And on the 7th, it
said it was deferred. And then on the
9th, you’ll see what happened in the EDN meeting. It recommended that it be
passed with amendments. Then you can see that the
Committee report was reported two days later on the 11th. And then it passed
second reading on the same day, February 11th. That it was
scheduled to be heard by Finance on Valentine’s Day. And the scheduled hearing
was the 16th of February. And the Committee on Finance
recommended the measure be passed with amendments. The Committee report came
out a day later on the 17th. And then it passed
third readings on the 22nd of February. Notice that on the 23rd, the
letter changes back to S. And it says received from House,
House communication number 11. The reason it had to
go back to the Senate is because the House changed
it at least twice, once in the House draft 1 and
once in the House draft 2. The Senate gets to have
final say over whether it’s OK with these amendments. In this case, what
did the Senate do? They agreed with the
House amendments. And they placed
it on the calendar for the final
reading in the Senate because the Senate needs
a whole final reading. What’s much more common
would be for the Senate to disagree to the amendments
and then to go to conference. And if so, that would be
listed on the status sheet. But that didn’t happen here. So it said that the Senate
agrees with the House amendments, but that’s not
the same thing as a reading. It basically means
the Senate is going to go along with the amendments,
but it is not the final vote. The final vote was going
to happen on March 3rd. And you can see on March
3rd, it passed final reading with 23 people voting
aye, nobody voting no, and two Senators excused. It then says it was
enrolled to the Governor. And that just means it was
presented to the Governor. And then on the 16th,
the Governor signed it. And it became law. It became Act V of the
2011 Legislative Session. OK. I think this is a pretty
clear walk through. And I think you can walk through
a status sheet on your own. But let me show you what else
is on top of this data sheet. If you want to know exactly
what these changes were, you could take a
look at the bill and compare it word for
word on the amended version. For instance, you could look
at the original bill here, you can see it
says Senate Bill 8. And then you could
look at the bill here. You can see that
it says SD1, HD1. And you could do a word
for word comparison. But that’s often tedious. And sometimes, you could see
the change in the language but you don’t know
what it means. For that, we turn to
the Committee reports. And what’s really nice is that
they’re all listed up here. If you click on these
links, as I’ve been doing, you’ll go to the HTML version. If you click on the PDF icon,
you’ll go to the slightly nicer to read PDF version. And this is what a
Committee report looks like. There’s a Standing
Committee report number, the date, the version,
this was on the House draft 1. You can see that it’s
addressed to Calvin Say, the Speaker of the House. This is the Education Committee. And it reports what happened. Here’s the purpose of the bill. It says who testified. And then, I’m going
to scroll down again, it shows you what
the changes were. It says, your Committee
has amended this bill by reducing the number of
voting members from 11 to 9. And it tells you in which
way they did this change. It also changed
information relating to the public high school
member, requirements for the Governor to
select, et cetera. You can see that this nicely
delineated list of what happened in the
Committee report is going to be much easier for you
to figure out than if you had had to look at the
whole bill itself and done a line-by-line
comparison. So the Legislature
makes it very easy for you to find out not
only what the bill said, but the report that analyzes
what the changes were. Now right below
that, you see a link to all the testimony
that was submitted. You remember that the first
Committee was the Senate Education Committee. If you want to see
that testimony, you’d click on this link here. The one that says
Late is testimony that came and passed the
24-hour in advance deadline. So let’s take a look and
see what this looks like. Here’s the Education
original one. And you’ll see up here that
there’s 43 pages of testimony. And sometimes the testimony
is nicely typed on letterhead. Here’s OHA’s, Campaign
Spending Commission. And sometimes you get people
who just send in emails. They’re just saying,
I oppose this and not making any
specific comments. This person just wanted
his voice to be heard. So that’s how you
read a status sheet. As I said, I think it’s
pretty explanatory when somebody walks you through it. And I hope you have fun
exploring what happens to bills that are of interest to you. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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