Hawaii midwives stage sit-in, saying their services could be banned without legislative action

In order to stay alive bills must pass out of final committees this week to the full house or senate and then cross over to the other side. If not they die.
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 5:48 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2023 at 11:13 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With a deadline approaching this week at the state Legislature, lawmakers seemed to make progress on major legislation on guns and tourism.

The tension even brought a group of midwives to the Capitol to stage a sit-in to demand a hearing.

In order to remain alive, bills must pass out of final committees this week to the full House or Senate and then cross over to the other side. If not, they die ― and that could happen to a bill meant to allow midwives to continue providing birth support services. So on Wednesday, they came out in force.

The women say Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita hasn’t told them why he is killing the bill.

It would extend time for them to operate under informal licensing while a more formal process of accrediting can be developed. They say women across the state are depending on them.

“The assumption is, they are foolish and untrained, which could not be further from the truth,” said midwife and advocate Rebekah Botello.

“They’re trained, but not Western training.”

HNN wasn’t able to reach the representative either; he was holding hearings Wednesday afternoon.

He has until Thursday to decide if he will allow a vote.

Meanwhile, there are other issues where agreement is developing.

For example, both houses have passed bills establishing a so-called “green fee” for a license to visit state parks and other attractions. Also alive: Bills to revamp or completely abolish Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Both houses are also moving to establish new controls on where people can carry guns after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled carrying of concealed firearms is a constitutional right. The bills set up statewide licensing rules and essentailly ban guns in almost all public facilities and even private businesses.

“The default position is you can’t take a gun into private property, but if the owner is happy to have guns there, he can certainly put up a sign that says sure bring your guns in,” said state Sen. Karl Rhoads, Judiciary chairman.

One issue that was supposed to get a vote Wednesday but did not was the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults. Senators put that off until Thursday while they work out complexities in the bill.

Keep in mind just because lawmakers seem to agree on issues at this point doesn’t guarantee final agreement.

That won’t be likely until the near end of the session this May.