Chapter 1


The legislative power of the State shall be vested in a legislature, which shall consist of two houses, a senate and a house of representatives. Such power shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation not inconsistent with this constitution or the Constitution of the United States. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ß1)

The Hawaii State Legislature, as mandated by Article III of the Hawaii Constitution, is the law-making body of state government. Because no provisions are made for the procedures of initiative and referendum, participation by the electorate in legislation is through communication with the Legislature.

In addition to law-making, the Legislature performs other functions which include:

1. Fact-finding investigation. During legislative sessions and often during the interim period between sessions, committees of both houses of the Legislature conduct reviews of programs, laws, financial plans, and other matters over which they have responsibility. This investigative power stems from the Legislature's need to ascertain facts before enacting laws. (HRS, chapter 21; Senate Rule 24; House Rules 27.10, 53.1)

2. Receiving and considering requests and petitions. Special interest groups and individuals often submit petitions and requests calling attention to allegedly bad laws or faulty administration of services. These communications are a type of feedback for legislative action and a means of maintaining a dialogue between the Legislature and its constituency.

3. Confirming gubernatorial appointments. The Senate has the prerogative of confirming officers appointed by the Governor. Article V, Section 6, of the Hawaii Constitution requires that the Governor obtain the "advice and consent" of the Senate for both the appointment and removal of designated officers. (Senate Rule 36)

4. Proposing amendments to the Constitution. Article XVII, Section 3, of the Hawaii Constitution allows the Legislature to propose amendments to the Constitution by adopting the proposals in the same manner required for enacting legislation. Proposed constitutional amendments may be adopted by a majority vote of each house on final reading at each of two successive sessions, or by a two-thirds vote of each house on final reading at any session and after either or both houses of the Legislature have given the Governor at least ten days' written notice of the final form of the proposed amendment. Any proposed constitutional amendment adopted by the Legislature shall be submitted to the electorate for approval or disapproval at the next general election.

5. Exercising quasi-judicial authority to punish in cases of certain offenses against the Legislature or its members. Article III, Section 18, of the Hawaii Constitution empowers each house to punish any person who is not a member of either house for certain offenses against the Legislature. In addition, each house of the Legislature may discipline any of its members. Article III, Section 12, of the Hawaii Constitution, empowers each house to punish any member for misconduct, disorderly behavior, or neglect of duty. (Senate Rule 72; House Rule 28.3)

6. Impeachment of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Article III, Section 19, of the Hawaii Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and the Senate the sole power to try such impeachments. Impeachment proceedings require the concurrence of two- thirds of the Senate's members for conviction. The Legislature is also responsible for providing by law, the manner and procedure of removal by impeachment of appointive officers.

See Appendix A for the provisions from the Hawaii Constitution governing the Legislature.

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