Levels of Government
This guide will help you understand enough of the basics of the structure of the state government to understand how the state House fits into it.
The United States is adminstratively divided into states (e.g. Hawaii); states are further divided into counties and cities. Each individual state, county and city has a government that makes, carries out and enforces laws that only apply within the geographic area it has jurisdiction over. In Hawaii, counties and cities share a government, which is not typically true elsewhere in the country. The federal government has jurisdiction over the entire country.
Counties in Hawaii
Hawaii is divided into counties, such as the City an County of Honolulu, which covers all of Oahu; and Maui County which covers Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, and part of Molokai. Each county can pass ordinances that only apply within the county, such as restrictions against smoking on the beaches inside of its jurisdiction. The counties are responsible for most of the roads in the state (the state is responsible for the highways).
Each county is governed by a City Council and Mayor's Office. The city government is separate from the state House, Senate and governor. The state does not control the city's budget or operations, but city law must conform to state law, which may affect how certain state-authorized sources of revenue can be spent.
The Supremacy Clause and Jurisdiction
The U.S. Constitution, federal laws, and treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate all constitute the "supreme law of the land" and apply to the entire country. State laws only apply to the states that pass them. Counties and cities also make laws that only apply within their borders. If a state law conflicts with a federal law, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution invalidates it. The Hawaii state Legislature cannot change or enforce federal, county, or city laws.