Aloha and Mahalo for your continued support!
Welcome to my fresh vision for responsive and responsible government! My office is dedicated to listening to and taking action upon the concerns of our district’s residents. We are hopeful that through our website, we will be better able to communicate our progress and the action that I am taking as the Councilmember of the district. Please feel free to contact me at any time with concerns.
March marks the beginning of the budget process with the City Council’s annual review and adoption phase underway. While most people are not attuned to budget procedures, the necessity for greater government transparency and importance of the budget agenda on legislative issues makes it a top priority to highlight the budget basics.
The fiscal calendar year runs from July 1st to June 30th, with the City Council’s role to review and adopt recommended budgets for City departments and services. This affects the community by providing core city services, maintaining infrastructure and facilities, meeting mandated requirements and addressing long-term obligations.
The Council conducts a line-item review of each budget entry between March and June, including calling on department heads for questioning and justification. The deadline for an approved balanced budget must be set by June 15th in anticipation of the 2015 fiscal year.
One of the major changes proposed is to increase the FY15 operating budget to $2.1 billion dollars, up $77 million from FY14. In addition, the Mayor’s administration is implementing zero-based budgeting, requiring each department to line-item expenses instead of approving changes to the baseline budget as traditionally done. This creates greater transparency in how funds are spent within departments.
In the upcoming year, the top priorities for Councilmember Chang are to continue funding for accelerating road reconstruction and improving sewers, increase energy efficiency, improve transit-oriented development, and to generate more services and shelters for the homeless.
Between now and June 15th, interested community members who want to understand where their property taxes and service fees go are encouraged to attend public briefings and Council readings. For more information on the proposed operating program and budget visit http://www1.honolulu.gov/budget/execbgt/fy2015oper.pdf
As part of a Hawaii Future Caucus initiative, HB2001 was introduced in the State House of Representatives to help increase access to voting. The Bill would automatically enroll eligible citizens for voting registration when issued civil identifications cards or divers licenses, with the option to decline. Coupled with the City Council’s Resolution 14-26 encouraging more early voting walk-in locations, residents wishing to vote will be better prepared and offered more flexibility—hopefully increasing Hawaii’s voter participation. The Hawaii Future Caucus, co-founded by Councilmember Chang, aims to create post-partisan policy for the state and local government on key issues facing Hawaii.
Preservation of the Wetlands: Thank you to everyone who came out to help clear the wetlands in Hawaii Kai at the Livable Hawaii Kai Hui Community Workday. Check out their website for other upcoming volunteer events: http://www.hawaiikaihui.org
Save a Smile: Waikiki Health is delighted to share that they raised over $24,000 for their winter campaign to purchase pediatric dental chairs and equipment for the Makahiki Medical and Dental Clinic. Thank you to all who donated to this great cause!
From strolling down Kalakaua Avenue to walking the family dog in your neighborhood, sidewalks play an important role in transportation and safety.
However, hazardous conditions and ill maintenance of sidewalks can contribute to serious injuries or even death. Step separation, settled areas and cracked concrete are some of the most common sidewalk maintenance problems that contribute to the 3,000 complaints a year the City receives.
Infrastructure is one of the top priorities needing critical attention in Honolulu, which is why fixing our sidewalks is important to maintain safe conditions for everyone who uses them. Yet, with current hazardous conditions, there is more that needs to be done instead of ignored. “The more we ignore it, the more we can claim ignorance and reduce liability… but none of us were elected to ignore liabilities,” Councilmember Chang commented in support for new legislation at a recent Public Works and Sustainability meeting.
Recently passed Resolution 14-23 seeks to initiate the process to identify and repair hazardous sidewalks throughout urban Honolulu. The Resolution calls for a study to be conducted by the City and reported to the Council and the Mayor’s office with conclusions for actionable solutions in remedying unsafe conditions. Once implemented, the City will gain a better understanding of the targeted areas that need improvement, and will coordinate a long-term plan to prevent hazardous environments from arising in the future.
Have a hazardous sidewalk condition to report? Use the Honolulu 311 phone app. This app will allow you to take a picture of the problem, write a description, and send GPS coordinates to the City
For the first time in recent memory, the Hawaii State Association of Counties (HSAC) and the Hawaii Council of Mayors (HCOM), joined together to show support for each other’s state legislative packages and take a united stance in order to achieve shared goals for the people of Hawaii.
This year, the HSAC legislative package comprises of four bills. The first bill relates to liability protection for lifeguards which is critical to allow government agencies to keep recreational areas open to the public (HB1609, SB2108). The second bill provides funding for a program that will train physicians and provide medical assistance to critical rural underserved areas (HB1608, SB2107). The third bill enables government agencies to maintain “roads in limbo” without incurring liability or assuming ownership or jurisdiction, and ensure the safety of the public (HB1610, SB2109). The last bill, which is also included in the HCOM package, allows the Counties to implement a county surcharge on state tax and expands the limitations on what the counties with populations equal to or less than 500,000 can use the additional surcharge for. (HB1606, SB2115).
Hawaii has a reputation as one of the least politically engaged states. In 2012, only 44.5% of eligible Hawaii citizens turned out to vote according to the United States Elections Project, with a particularly low turnout among younger voters. The Hawaii Future Caucus believes that improving the ease and convenience of voting and voter registration may increase participation among all voters, but particularly young voters.
As such, Councilmember Stanley Chang introduced Resolution 14-26 at the Honolulu City Council, which urges the City to increase the number of early walk-in voting locations and explore the possibility of locations on University of Hawaii campuses. The Hawaii Future Caucus also introduced House Bill 2001 in the State Legislature, which requires automatic registration of all qualified persons as voters when they are issued a State ID or driver’s license with the option to opt-out.
The Hawaii Future Caucus recently held a general membership meeting with the newly created Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is comprised of interest groups and organizations committed to or representing youth and young professionals. Currently, the Advisory Council includes members from the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, American Bar Association Young Lawyer Division, Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, and Hawaii Jaycees. Together with the Advisory Council the Hawaii Future Caucus hopes to find additional innovative ways to engage youth in government.
For more information and updates about the Hawaii Future Caucus, please visit www.facebook.com/HawaiiFutureCaucus.
Last month, Councilmember Chang introduced Resolution 13-280 urging the U.S. Congress to reduce gun related injuries and deaths by enacting legislation to help prevent gun violence from occurring.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gun violence causes approximately 100,000 injuries and 30,000 deaths across our nation each year and in Hawaii 485 people died between 1999 and 2010 from guns. Each life is precious and losing one innocent life to gun violence is one too many.
Recent mass shooting incidents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; the Navy Yard in Washington D.C.; a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado; and a school in Sparks, Nevada among many other tragic shootings illustrate the pressing need for stronger national laws to prevent gun violence.
“Hawaii is not immune to mass shooting incidents,” said Councilmember Chang. “The Xerox shooting in the 1990s led to many changes in Hawaii state law to protect our islands from future mass shooting incidents, but that’s not the case in the rest of the country. I am pro-gun safety and anti-gun crime. We need stronger national laws to protect children and families from gun crime.”
Specifically, Resolution 13-280 urges the U.S. Congress to enact legislation necessary to implement President Obama’s “Now is the Time” plan to reduce gun violence.
President Obama’s plan calls for closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands, banning military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines, making schools safer, and increasing access to mental health services. To learn more about President Obama’s plan to prevent gun violence, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/preventing-gun-violence.