Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Senator Joy San Buenaventura, Representative John M. Mizuno, and Representative Amy Perruso, co-conveners of the Legislature's Keiki Caucus, along with youth advocates presented an aggressive 2021 Legislative Keiki Caucus Package of bills and resolutions at the State Capitol yesterday, relying on the support and input from dozens of organizations, individuals, and keiki themselves.
"Our keiki represent our most precious resource because they represent our future," said Representative Mizuno.
"During this difficult recession, our focus is to defend and protect essential programs for youth development and to equip our youth with the tools needed to excel in life," said Senator Joy San Buenaventura. "We depend on these groups and individuals that work with children to know the issues and what laws need to be written."
"This is one of the most promising and progressive packages of bills in years, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are here to collaborate and ensure our keiki are empowered. We would like to become the first state in the nation to lower the voting age to 16," said Representative Amy Perruso. "With this package of bills and resolutions, we hope not only to protect and support our keiki but also get them involved in the legislative process."
The Keiki Caucus introduced five bills and five resolutions in its package. The measure range from moving the voting age from 18 to 16, emancipation for youth, Hawaiian education, afterschool programs, a student-centered budgeting bill, along with homeless policy and parental alienation syndrome. Other bills or resolutions deal with student voices for improved representation of youth, as well as policy on community schools.
Deborah Zysman, Executive Director of the Hawai‘i Children's Action Network Speaks!, said "Keiki really need to be the top priority for lawmakers."
Judith Clark, MPH, Executive Director Hawaii Youth Services Network, added, "We have all worked in a collaborative manner to find the top priorities for our children."
Nicole Woo, Director of Research and Economic Policy of Hawaii Children's Action Network Speaks! said, "It is important to prioritize youth issues into law."
Established in 1994, the Keiki Caucus is a bipartisan group of House and Senate members joined by more than 300 community advocates including non-profits, educators, businesses, child development specialist, healthcare workers, social workers, parent groups, children, youth and youth groups to develop proposals and initiatives to benefit and empower Hawai‘i’s youth.
For those who did not see the press conference, here is a link to the video: https://www.facebook.com/keikicaucus/videos/424326462228024