Legislative Branch

State Senate, State House of Representatives, Office of the Auditor, Office of the Ombudsman, Legislative Reference Bureau.

The Legislative branch creates laws and approves the State Budget.

  • 25 Senators (elected to 4-year term)
  • 51 Representatives (elected to 2-year term)

Meets for a 2-year part-time Legislative Session beginning in an odd numbered year and ending in an even numbered year. Each year, the session begins on the 3rd Wednesday in January and lasts 60 “session” days (approximately 100 calendar days).

The Legislature can:

  • Introduce bills and enact laws.
  • Override the Governor’s vetoes.
  • Approve the Governor’s cabinet and judicial appointments.
  • Impeach the Governor or Lt. Governor.
  • Control State taxation and spending.
  • Approve the Chief Justice’s judicial appointments.
  • Send amendments (passed in bill form) of the State Constitution to the voters for action.

Executive Branch

Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Cabinet, Departments* and University of Hawaii (UH).

The Executive branch ensures that all of the laws of the State are executed.

  • Governor (elected to 4-year term)
  • Lieutenant Governor (elected to 4-year term)
  • 18 State Departments, including UH (department heads compose the Governor’s cabinet, and are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, except for the UH President, who is selected by the UH Board of Regents).

The Governor can:

  • Propose legislation to the Legislature.
  • Sign bills passed by the Legislature into law.
  • Veto bills passed by the Legislature.
  • Call the Legislature into Special Session.
  • Appoint cabinet heads.
  • Issue an Executive Order.
  • Appoint Judges and Justices.
  • Grant reprieves and pardons.

*Departments include: Accounting & General Services; Agriculture; Attorney General; Budget & Finance; Business, Economic Development & Tourism; Commerce & Consumer Affairs; Defense; Hawaiian Home Lands; Health; Human Resources Development; Human Services; Labor & Industrial Relations; Land & Natural Resources; Public Safety; Taxation; Transportation.


Judicial Branch

Supreme Court; Intermediate Court of Appeals; Circuit Courts; Family Courts; Land Court; Tax Appeal Court; Environmental Courts; District Courts; Office of the Administrative Director of the Courts, numerous Judiciary programs.

The Judicial Branch in the State of Hawaii is a unified court system that functions under the Chief Justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court. This branch of government administers justice in accordance with State law.

The Judicial Branch can:

  • Rule on criminal or civil cases.
  • Make common law.
  • Rule on court cases that question interpretation of the State Constitution.
  • Declare an Executive Order unconstitutional.
  • Rule a law unconstitutional.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA)

OHA Board of Trustees, OHA Administrator, various programs.

Established by Article XII of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii following amendments proposed by the 1978 State of Hawaii Constitutional Convention, and subsequent approval of the amendments by Hawaii voters in the General Election on November 7, 1978.

OHA is a semi-autonomous State agency responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of Native Hawaiians.

  • 9 members of the Board of Trustees (elected to 4-year terms)
  • OHA Administrator / CEO (appointed by OHA Board of Trustees)

System of Checks and Balances in the State of Hawaii

Flowcart representing the system of checks and balances in the State of Hawaii