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Hirono attaches key measure for Hawaii to defense bill

MEDIA RELEASE

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services and the Veterans’ Affairs committees, voted this week to pass the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of committee.

“As home to the U.S. Pacific Command, Hawaii plays a key role in our military’s strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. The bipartisan defense authorization bill further bolsters that strategic shift by providing Hawaii with investments that support military readiness and training while creating jobs. I was proud to include measures that will fully fund the construction of the U.S. Army Pacific’s Command and Control Facility at Fort Shafter, improve educational opportunities for our veterans and children in military families and invest in clean, renewable energy programs that make our military stronger,” said Hirono.

Additional provisions in the NDAA include:

* Improved Readiness, Save Taxpayer Dollars through Improved Energy Efficiency

In order to have a more sustainable and cost-efficient military, an increased investment in renewable energy is paramount. Hirono worked with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) to include a bipartisan amendment that gives the Department of Defense (DOD) flexibility to improve energy efficiency and use green building techniques for their infrastructure. Additionally, the bill includes a Hirono amendment that will help reduce fuel costs across all major DOD vehicle and weapon purchases.

* Increased Focus on the Military Pivot to the Asia-Pacific Region

A Hirono provision will bring to bear an independent assessment of the strategy, capabilities and future needs within the Asia-Pacific theatre. Hirono also included a provision that stops Air Force plans to move four KC-135 refueling tankers from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to California pending the results of a cost-benefit analysis. An additional Hirono provision encourages the Air Force and Navy to expand the use of commercial air tactical training, which in this fiscally constrained environment could preserve valuable readiness resources and prolong military aircraft service life.

* Expanded Products, Including Generic Drugs, Available at Commissaries

As a member of the Subcommittee on Personnel, Hirono fought against cuts to the commissaries, which are a valuable benefit to many of our servicemembers and retirees. She also encouraged the Defense Department to look for more efficient ways to manage this important service. Additionally, during a May 6 SASC Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Hirono advocated for generic drugs to be sold in the on-base commissaries. Hirono’s questioning helped to build the case for a provision in the bill that would allow for the sale of these drugs at commissaries, which would result in lower prices for servicemembers and their families.

* More Provisions to Help Servicemembers as they Transition to Civilian Life

Hirono worked to include updates to DOD’s Transition Assistance Program. Servicemembers will have updated, accurate information on how to pick a college, use their GI Bill benefit, avoid scams or costly private loans and lodge any complaints online. Hirono worked on the amendment with Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Tom Carper (D-DE), who are also champions of improving educational benefits and services for current and former servicemembers. Another provision requires the Department to conduct a study on the impact of Tricare Prime Service Area reductions on beneficiary access to care.

* Increased Support for Military Families with Kids in Hawaii’s Public Schools

Hirono fought to continue helping the state Department of Education (HDOE) and other school districts with military-connected children get federal Impact Aid funding quickly and smoothly. Hirono included provisions from the Local Taxpayer Relief Act, a bill she first introduced as a U.S. House member, and reintroduced in 2013 with Republican co-lead Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

Authorized Funds for Hawaii:

* Fort Shafter: $311 million to complete construction of the U.S. Army Pacific’s Command and Control Facility.

* Kaneohe Bay: $53.4 million for military construction and facilities upgrades.

* U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM): $43 million for Air Force Operation and Maintenance (OMAF) for depot maintenance and $10.3 million for logistics operations throughout the PACOM area of responsibility.

* Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP): $12.7 million.

* Pearl Harbor: $9.7 million for military construction and facilities upgrades.

* Marine Corps Base: $8.5 million for energy conservation projects.

HIRONO ANNOUNCES HAWAII BENEFITS IN WATER BILL

Hirono voted to pass a bipartisan water infrastructure bill – the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) – that includes a number of key provisions for Hawaii. The legislation heads to President Obama for his signature.

A member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during her six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Hirono and her office worked with her colleagues on a bicameral basis to include measures to improve the Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility and to assist Hawaii small harbors.

“I am pleased Congress came together to pass this critical bipartisan water infrastructure bill,” said Hirono. “Overall, this legislation provides needed support for water infrastructure, including flood protection and harbor projects around the country. Given Hawaii’s unique needs, I pushed for measures that benefit Hawaii small harbors and the Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility, which will save federal and county resources and improve Maui’s efforts to address sea-level rise. These are job-creating projects that will have a lasting impact on our communities.”

Hirono worked to see the following measures included in the final bill:

* Assisting Hawaii Small Harbors

Hirono worked to assist the Army Corps of Engineers in prioritizing remote and subsistence harbor projects, which include certain small harbors in Hawaii, such as Hana Harbor on Maui and Laupahoehoe Harbor on Hawaii Island. This language will also assist harbors in American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

* Removing Red Tape Surrounding The Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility

Maui County is in the process of evaluating a proposed shoreline protection project for the area surrounding the Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility. Hirono’s proposal includes extending and raising the elevation of the facility’s existing revetment to protect the shoreline and accommodate sea-rise. Language included in WRRDA restores the primary responsibility for the project to Maui County, which eliminates an unnecessary federal approval process, saves the County and Federal government an estimated $200,000 and allows this important project to move forward.

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