Pacific Resource Partnership app allows users to get more involved in Hawaii legislative bills
The app allows users to email lawmakers, submit testimony on certain bills, register to vote and view the legislative calendar.
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In a state notorious for low voter turnout, a lobbying group has developed
a free mobile app to get younger residents more involved in legislative matters.
The Kakou app was launched last month by
Pacific Resource Partnership, which represents the Hawaii construction industry and advocates for the Honolulu Rail Transit project. The app allows users to email lawmakers, submit testimony on certain bills, register to vote and view the legislative calendar.
So far it has more than 1,300 downloads.
The Kakou app is an offshoot of the pocket-sized Hawaii Directory of Public Officials that is printed annually. PRP took over publishing the directory from the Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs last year. To provide the most current information and update as needed, the partnership decided to offer a companion digital version that would also serve to connect the community more easily to lawmakers.
Kakou means “we” in
Hawaiian, which ties into the idea encouraging the community to come together,
according to Melanie Kim, marketing manager for PRP.
“It takes more than just one person to make change,” said Kim.
Senate President Ron
Kouchi, co-chairman of the public officials directory initiative with House Speaker Scott Saiki, was enthusiastic about providing useful information via mobile app, saying it would help increase voter engagement among people under age 30.
“Clearly their method of communication is using their smartphones,” Kouchi said. “So if we really want to sincerely get them engaged, then we need to create tools that they’re comfortable in using.”
He added that no taxpayer dollars were allocated for the initiative.
Not every bill introduced at the Legislature is available on Kakou, only the ones supported by the six nonprofit organizations PRP partnered with for the app. They are the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Hawaii Children’s
Action Network, the Hawaii Public Health Institute, Rainbow Family 808 and HawaiiKidsCAN.
“Having an app like Kakou that makes it convenient
for the youth and to notify them when something is up for a hearing just makes it convenient and helps them to
mobilize and share with their other friends as well,” said Trish La Chica, policy and advocacy director for the Hawaii Public Health
Each time a person downloads the app and registers to follow one of the nonprofit organizations, PRP will donate $1 to that organization. The nonprofits also can
to the legislative calendar on the app.
Kim says PRP is open to working with more nonprofits in the future.