The Hawai‘i State Senate is reconvening the 2020 Regular Session of the State Legislature today for an abbreviated emergency session, after recessing on March 16 due to COVID-19. This reconvene will be limited in scope to a few fiscal bills to be handled by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, and to the advise and consent measures currently pending in Senate committees.
A number of safety measures are now in place to slow the spread of the disease. The State Capitol will remain closed to the general public for safety. Governor David Ige’s stay-at-home order remains in effect through May 31.
The National Guard and Sheriffs are securing the building. Only elected legislators and select staff, and hearing witnesses and appointments requested by legislators, are allowed into the building. All entryways into the building have been secured. Authorized personnel are required to enter the Capitol via the chamber level, main glass doors, and submit to a temperature screening. Face marks are mandatory. Employees are required to wear their ID badges. Anyone exhibiting signs of illness will be denied entry. CDC guidelines must be adhered to along with six feet social distancing. Hearing rooms will be sanitized and sterilized.
Due to the unprecedented necessity of closing the Capitol building, a number of steps have been taken to provide public access to the Senate’s proceedings. All hearings will be carried live on ‘Olelo and aired on neighbor island public access networks, and they will be streamed live online. Legislators will hold daily press conferences via Zoom, and these will be available to the public live on the Hawai‘i State Senate Facebook page. Committees will accept written testimony at https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/
The Senate will be using technology to allow remote participation by members who are not able to physically attend our floor sessions and committee hearings. To achieve that goal, the Senate will vote on a resolution during today’s session to allow for virtual participation for Senators in committee hearings and during floor sessions.
Each committee with pending nominations will hold a hearing on the nominations and a separate decision-making meeting on a subsequent day, so members have time to review the testimony and follow up with nominees if necessary.
The Senate session will convene in the Senate Chamber today at 11:30 a.m.