Methods: We drew study data from the Hawaii State Legislature website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov, which is the key portal for obtaining information to participate in the lawmaking process. It also hosts the Legislative Archives, which includes bills and resolutions as well as testimonies and committee reports of each legislative session from 1999 to present. We searched all bills in the 2016 Archives using the keyword of “paid family leave”. We screened the results of initial search by applying two criteria: a) the bill was related to paid family leave, and b) the bill had public hearings and committee decision making in the 2016 legislative session. Our final analysis focused on SB2961. Our study sample consisted of five drafts of SB2961, four committee reports on SB2961, as well as 155 written testimonies submitted to the standing committees. We reviewed the timeline of public hearings, synthesized amendments to the bill, and analyzed written testimonies to identify key stakeholders and critical issues in the policy debate.
Findings: The process of the SB2961 in the legislative session demonstrated the complexity in lawmaking, including multiple referrals, public hearings, and committee actions within deadlines. SB2961 passed three readings in the Senate and was sent to the House. It was deferred by the House Committee on Finance at the end. a number of components in the bill have been changed through amendments, including paid family leave coverage and duration of the leave. The majority of the testimony support the bill, and these stakeholders include groups interested in the health and wellbeing of women, parents, and family caregivers. The oppositions were primarily from the business sector. State departments also concerned about the actuarial soundness, administrative process, and management issues.
Conclusions and implications
This study describes the legislative process using a real-world example, which can be used as an educational material in social work to enhance social workers’ competency in policy advocacy. The analysis sleds light on the direction of continuing efforts in the paid family leave policy development and advocacy in the state. A successful passage of a paid family leave policy requires building a stronger coalition among supportive groups which may involve seeking common grounds and strategic compromises.