Draw the Law: Government and Business, Part III: The Legislature

Personal Update

Aloha everyone!

I apologize to all my loyal blawg readers, that have missed on so many months on posts from me.  I have been extremely busy, but have a lot new and exciting information, as well as simple little sketches to help you understand the law.  First off, let me state that my law firm will now be offering notary public services here in the State of Hawaii.  Therefore, if you need something notarized and are in the Kaka’ako area please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Second, the reason I was not posting for the past several months is I was working for the Hawaii State Legislature for the House Judiciary Committee.  This was fascinating and informative work on the drafting of legislation, and I do recommend any young attorney get some legislative experience if they intend to work in government or even in private practice; it is an invaluable experience, and goes a long way if you intend to do lobbying or public interest work.  With that work finished, Draw the Law should be returning to semi-regular postings, as I will be holding regular office hours at my Ward Avenue location.  Of course with my legislative knowledge, I will be using it for today’s post to follow-up where we left off, and of course I will be talking about the Legislature and how it affects your business.

Lastly, you can expect New Law in the Brief posts, a series of posts of the legislative process, as I have interacted with many local business owners and advocates who have no idea how the Legislature operates, but are interested, and finally there will be new content updates, such as events, one-sheets, slides, etc . . .

Anyway, I’ve written enough on me, let’s get back to Draw the Law!

Draw the Law: Government and Business, Part III: The Legislature

The 3 branches of the federal and local state government balance and check each other.  Specifically, when it comes to lawmaking, the legislature creates the law, while the executive enforces, and the judicial shall interpret the laws application to a case.

So last time I discussed how the judicial branch of the government (both US and Hawaii) interacts with businesses when they sue each other or receive a suit against them by a customer or possibly an agency of the government charged with enforcing the law.  This brings me to the Legislature, as it is the place where the laws are made.  It is what gives a consumer the right to sue you for a defective product, it’s what gives the police and government agencies to chase you down for speeding tickets or having to go to the liquor commission for a license to dispense alcohol.

So why should a business owner care about what the legislature, state or federal or both do?

Let me generalize for a bit, so that you can understand what is happening.  Typically, what happens is that a new industry or business practice is implemented, sometimes with little problems to society, but other times causing problems for people.  In the case when it is not, the company is likely injuring a number of people, but sometimes that injury does not give those people a cause of action (aka a right to sue) the company doing the damage.  Therefore, people become advocates for a change in the law making a company responsible for the harm.  They do so by interacting with their elected official, which may either be a senator or representative and they introduce a bill into the legislative process.  Other times, the change in or the addition of a new law need not come from the advocacy of protecting consumers and clients, but many industries see benefit in engaging the government by either having access to information, resources, or possibly legitimacy.

So here, we have a widget plant in a neighborhood. The community does not like the smoke, and asks their elected official to speak to the legislative body and convince them to pass Bill 55 on the issue.  The legislature then passes Act 10, which orders any widget plant to put a red cap on their smoke stack.

Many times laws do not just benefit one company, but an entire industry. Therefore, the companies that mak up the industry will bandwagon together and form some type of organization to lobby for changes in the law on behalf of the greater whole.  A good example of this is the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce.

So the widget plants do not like putting a red cap on their smoke stack. Red paint is too costly, and they would rather put blue caps, which are more pleasing to the eye. So the widget companies band together to form the Widget Association of America, which hires a lobbyist to make their case heard in the legislature to change the law.

While, some business owners live in a legislative district separate from where their business is located, this should not prevent them from knowing who the representatives are for the area.  The reason being is that the local neighborhood business provides a valuable resource to the community, and in turn that community elects the representative.  Therefore, consider finding out who your representative of both where you live and do business in, and consider joining or forming some type of association to get more involved with the legislative process if you feel that their may be benefits to your business in influencing the lawmaking process, as the laws your legislator passes may affect your business. If you are in the State of Hawaii, you can find out who your elected officials are by using this website and entering your address in the top-right corner search box.

Next time I will touch upon the executive branch, the part of the government charged with enforcing the laws.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is meant to be general information, and should not be taken as specific legal advice that pertains to any particular situation.  The reader should not base any decisions on the information here to act or refrain from acting regarding a legal problem.  If you believe you have a legal problem please seek legal advice from a licensed attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.