Rep’n Mililani with Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang
Letting Constituents Decide On Key Issues
This session, I sent out a survey to my district because it’s important for legislators to represent their constituents. Elected officials can use such forms of communication to inform the public or make a case for a particular course of action. Ultimately, servant leaders must work to bring the voice of their constituencies to the government and make sure the priorities of the people are given fair consideration.
One of my district’s priorities is traffic mitigation. This year, the Legislature considered HB134, to extend the city’s authorization for a general excise tax surcharge to help pay for its rail project. The surcharge is currently in effect, but the authorization for it is set to expire in 2022. The bill passed and, if it becomes law, the tax will be extended to 2027.
I’ve received a lot of calls and emails from people outside of my district asking me to vote against extending the city’s authorization. But ever since the initial round of survey responses came in, my district has preferred extending it over all of the other outcomes.
Before the final reading, 71 percent of those surveyed were in favor of the extension — a clear majority over the city increasing property taxes (3 percent) or ending the rail project (26 percent). I voted yes on the bill to reflect my community’s sentiment.
Establishing dispensaries for medical marijuana was another issue that a lot of people outside of my district wanted me to oppose. But 81 percent of the people in my district said they were in favor of the legislation. Just last year, only 32 percent were in support. The reversal may be a sign of how sensitive Mililani residents are when the suffering and needs of their neighbors are brought to their attention. I voted in favor of the bill, although I did have some reservations about an exception that was made for the bill during the process.
Almost as many people who supported medical marijuana dispensaries opposed legalizing marijuana for recreational use, with 74 percent against. Prohibiting e-cigarettes where tobacco products are banned had the largest majority in support, at 83 percent. The majority of my district also supported privatizing state hospitals that are having trouble controlling costs (64 percent).
Many of the bills related to those or similar issues didn’t make it to the final reading. But my votes on the ones that did, such as HB940 (ban on electric cigarettes) and HB1075 (hospital privatization), reflected the survey results. I voted yes on both.
I’ll be sending more information about the bills that passed the Legislature to my constituents. But for now, I just wanted to share these survey results and encourage you to stay in contact even when the Legislature is not in session.
Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang can be contacted at State Capitol room 333 by emailing repfukumoto@capitol. hawaii.gov or by calling 586-9460