Lawmaker turns away anti human trafficking supporters

Kathryn Xian
Kathryn Xian

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "Representative, we've been trying to get in touch with you about House Bills 576 and 577," Kathryn Xian said.

"You can see me on Friday," Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran said

"That's after the hearing, sir," Xian countered.

Xian and a handful of other anti-human trafficking advocates raised their voices in the representative's office as a last resort

They were hoping to get a face-to-face meeting with Keith-Agaran, the chairman of the House Judiciary committee.

"He's not returning our calls or anybody's calls, for that matter, or emails," Xian said.

She supports the anti-sex trafficking and anti-labor trafficking bills that Keith-Agaran has not scheduled for hearings. And the deadline is looming.

"We're asking him to allow the public to have access to the information, to testify and to learn what the bill is about," Fawn Koopman said.

The representative didn't talk to them but he did talk to Hawaii News Now, saying he doubts the bills would help law enforcement.

"Instead what I did was hear the bills that the prosecutor said would actually help," he said. "Those are the bills that I'm pushing forward this year."

"We realize that there is a lot of controversy with regard to the sex-trafficking bill but there is absolutely no controversy surrounding the labor trafficking bill," Xian said. "If there is, we would like to know who those backdoor lobbyists are."

"Being one of his constituents, it's frustrating that he's not able to set up a hearing or meet with concerns that we have," bill supporter Christopher Yanuaria said.

Keith-Agaran said the bills could be re-introduced next session but they won't get out of his committee this time.

"There's a deadline coming up and there are a lot of bills that unfortunately are not going to get heard and those were two of them," he said.

"I was under the impression that elected officials jobs are to hear the voices of their constituents," Xian said.

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