Governemnt

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Behind Closed Doors

Governemnt / The State Capitol is a mystery to many of us. Sure, the public has the ability to sit in during committee hearings, but other than that, the whole building–and what goes on behind those closed doors–is a big black hole. “We’re always seeing people lean against the window peering in, trying to see what’s going on inside,” said House sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Kuroda.

The House Chambers is where the 51 members representing the districts of Hawaii meet to discuss and vote on potential legislation. Over the years, Kuroda has noticed increased interest in both chambers elicited from visitors and thought that it would be a worthwhile venture to keep the House Chamber open all day. “In the past, the public only had access to the chamber if they were sitting in on a hearing,” he said. “So we decided why not welcome them in and let them look around when there is not a hearing?”

As a result, Kuroda designed a pilot project to open the House Chamber to the public everyday through the month of February. Admission is free, and visitors are welcome to walk around the Chamber as they please. The increased energy expenditures and the extra staffer is a cost, he said, “but we believe that the benefits and aloha of the project are worth it.”