Statewide citizen initiative would give voters a voice

So many disappointments at the state Legislature in the 2017 session. Legislators largely ignored several dozen good, solid bills to resolve some of the many problems that Hawaii faces. Many didn’t even get the decency of even one committee hearing.

We have been told that leadership made their decisions about bills before the session even opened. Hearings set at the last minute; too many “excused” from even voting; testimony ignored or never heard. This isn’t democracy.

Voters need to have some balance to the outsized influence of big money and lobbyists. It’s hard to understand what happens to the good legislators we sent to the Capitol. Is it something in the water?

Our group, Direct Democracy-Hawaii, is proposing that direct citizen initiative statewide would give voters a voice. A petition could circulate about any issue among voters, collect the required number of signatures and meet all the criteria and, bingo, the matter goes straight to the ballot for voters to say yes or no without interference.

First, our state constitution needs to be amended to allow voters this basic right. Twenty-four other states already have these rights. Our legislators need to allow this question to go to the voters in 2018.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman will be offering a bill in 2018. Follow our progress and efforts to support this bill at Sign and share our petition at /petition/. Contact us at We can do better.

Joseph Kohn