HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Members of the Hawaii Future Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of legislators under 35, have announced that its package will focus on initiatives for affordable housing, absentee voting, and community college tuition this legislative session. HFC works for future-oriented, pragmatic solutions to key issues facing Hawaii's millennial generation.
The caucus' affordable housing bills includes: Creating an outline of state goals, timeline, and funding mechanisms to revitalize the Kapalama area and develop affordable housing units with coordination between state and city agencies, private landowners and residents; amending Hawaii's tax increment financing law to provide the counties with the power to issue bonds to fund improvements made to specific communities. Bonds will be repaid through the increase in property tax assessments caused by improvements; requiring state departments to offer 75 year leases for affordable housing developments; implementing a tax on real estate investment trusts, with an exemption for affordable housing developments; and increasing the cap on amounts deposited into the Rental Housing Revolving Fund to $100 million.
A second HFC initiative seeks to create a statewide absentee voter system to increase accessibility to voting and address Hawaii's low voter turnout. The bill requires the Office of Elections to begin election-by-mail in phases, starting with counties with a population of fewer than 100,000 in 2016 and increasing to full statewide implementation. Voting service centers would still be made available for those who would prefer to cast their ballot in person.
Finally, the Hawaii Future Caucus believes every Hawaii resident deserves a quality college education, regardless of their financial means. A third initiative provides free community college tuition for all Hawaii residents. This measure will help fill the global market's demand for highly qualified workers and build capacity for a thriving local economy.
The Hawaii Future Caucus is co-chaired by Councilmember Brandon Elefante, Representative Beth Fukumoto Chang, and Representative Takashi Ohno. Other members include Representatives Linda Ichiyama, Kaniela Ing, Aaron Ling Johanson, Jarrett Keohokalole and Chris Lee as well as Councilmember Trever Ozawa. HFC was founded in 2013 and is modeled after the national Future Caucus led by U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard.