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 from the 2012 to 2020 Archives using the keywords “family leave” and “child care”. We screened the results of the initial search by applying two criteria: a) the bill was related to paid family leave and child care tax credits, and b) the bill had multiple public hearings and committee decision making in the respective legislative session. Our final analysis focused on SB2961 in 2016 and HB1718 in 2018 legislative session. Our study sample consisted of drafts of bills, committee reports and written testimonies submitted to the standing committees. We reviewed all the documents as data and conducted a content analysis of committee reports and public testimonies.
Results: Each bill has gone through the complex process of lawmaking, including multiple referrals, public hearings, and committee actions within deadlines. Findings from examining public testimonies revealed key stakeholders, from government agencies, women and family advocacy groups, to concerned individuals. There is generous agreement on the needs of paid family leave, support for child care, particularly for low-income workers in Hawaii. However, opposition from business sectors, concerns for taxation consequences, and fiscal implementation uncertainty are noted. Furthermore, there are more individual testimonies on paid family leave bills; and there are fewer public testimonies when it is related to an unfamiliar topic to the public such as taxation.
Conclusions and Implications: The analysis sleds light on differences in public testimony as policy advocacy for different types of family policies in the state. For unfamiliar aspects of policy bills, advocacy groups need to educate the public or have advocates with expertise to engage in policy advocacy. Social workers need to consider its strengths in different aspects and stages of advocacy and policy development.