One man in the legislature is controlling the outcome of an issue that impacts potentially every woman in the State of Hawaiʻi.
As a man whose grandchildren have been born both at home on Kauaʻi with midwives in attendance, and in a hospital birthing room on Oʻahu – this action impacts me as well. It’s one of those “mad as hell and not going to take it any more moments”.
Yes, one man – the Chair of the House Finance Committee, Maui Representative Kyle Yamashita, is deciding who may or may not attend and help in the birth of our children.
HB955 is titled: Midwifery; Licensure; Birth Attendants; Exemptions; Training; Certification
Over 1,000 people have submitted testimony in support of HB955.
Two House Committees have already heard HB955 and both passed the measure out unanimously.
24 Representatives have already either voted yes to pass the measure in a prior Committee and/or are Co-introducers.
A close read of the measure shows clearly that no changes were proposed to any fiscal element. There were no new fees proposed and no changes of any kind to budget-related items. Thus SB955 should not have been referred to the House Finance Committee in the first place.
Finance Chair Yamashita has decided he does not want his Committee to hear HB955, he does not want to hold a vote on HB955, and he certainly does not want to pass HB955. His decision unless changed, means there will be no further debate nor any further votes on this important measure.
One guy decides he doesn’t want it and everyone else can just suck wind.
Yes, other committee members may object but to do so they risk retribution that will most certainly be leveraged via the same unilateral power of the Chair. Any Representative who challenges the Chair risks having their bills killed, their Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) go unfunded, and their community and constituents hurt as a result.
Everyone knows it’s wrong, but the fear of retribution stifles the opposition.
On Wednesday,March 1, midwives and mothers, some of who had flown over from Maui to hopefully meet with the Finance Chair and convince him to hear, vote, and pass HB955 – ended up holding a “sit-in” and occupying the outer offices of the Finance Committee until the Sheriffs were called upon to remove them.
That sit-in at the Capitol continues today and the numbers are expected to grow further on Monday – with no end in sight. There is also a petition in support which I have signed and hope you do as well.
No single legislator regardless of title or position should have the power to unilaterally stop legislative policy changes that affect all of us. Certainly, no one man should have the power to decide issues pertaining to the health and the birthing process of all women.
HB955 can still be saved, but we need you to take 3 steps to give us the best shot.
Note legislators and staff who answer the telephone will likely tell you, “So sorry, but you’ve missed the deadline. Please reply to them, politely and professional that you are aware that if the Speaker of the House, Representative Scott Saiki wanted to extend the deadline, he could, and he should.
1. Call/email House Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita at 808-586-6330 or email@example.com and tell him to send HB955 to the floor of the House for a full vote of all 51 members.
2. Call/email Speaker of the House Scott Saiki at 808-586-6100 or firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him to send HB955 to the floor of the House for a full vote of all 51 members, AND to require the Finance Committee to hear all bills that were passed out of earlier subject matter committees.
3. Call your Representative and ask them to pressure leadership to schedule a full House vote on HB955. Find your Rep here: THIS STEP IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT!
HB955 is about regulating midwifery. But Chair Yamashita’s actions are about more than midwifery—they’re about the abuse of power.
The unilateral power of a Committee Chair to kill a bill is inherently undemocratic and the practice must change here and now with HB955.
The majority and leadership in the House and Senate can stop this practice immediately if they choose to do so. Requiring a committee to hear all bills that were passed out of an earlier subject matter committee and requiring a public vote in order to kill a bill is a good place to start.
Gary L. Hooser
This coming Wednesday, March 8th the Kauaʻi County Council will vote on a Resolution proposed to support HB955. Similar Resolutions were passed unanimously by both the Maui County Council and the Hawaiʻi County Council.
Please submit testimony prior to the meeting to email@example.com
5. Resolution No. 2023-31 – RESOLUTION URGING THE HAWAI‘I STATE LEGISLATURE TO ENACT A STATUTE EXEMPTING BIRTH ATTENDANTS FROM STATE LICENSURE REQUIREMENTS