Categorized | Government, News

Updates from Sen. Schatz (Jan. 29-Feb. 24)

MEDIA RELEASE

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) will serve on five key Senate Appropriations Subcommittees: Defense; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Legislative Branch.

“I am grateful to Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski for the opportunity to help shape the Department of Defense’s priorities, especially as it relates to the Asia-Pacific region,” said Schatz. “These are challenging times, and we operate in a difficult budget environment, but this puts me in a position to help Hawaii move forward.”

The list of Schatz’s Appropriations Subcommittee assignments follow:

Defense

Military forces in Hawaii are central to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) strategic engagement in the Asia Pacific. Defense leaders continue to face hard choices in the years ahead as they work with a smaller share of the discretionary budget to train and ready our service members, provide for military families, protect the United States from threats abroad, and invest in the capabilities needed to address emerging challenges, particularly in Asia. The Subcommittee on Defense provides an opportunity to ensure that DoD is aligning its limited resources appropriately to support national defense needs, including protecting critical military capabilities in Hawaii. In addition, the subcommittee presents an opportunity to help DoD identify opportunities to accomplish its objectives by working with partners and allies; and supporting DoD’s investments in nontraditional defense programs—such as alternative energy, climate resilience, and infectious diseases research—that will pay dividends to national defense in the future.

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies

With more than 117,000 veterans and 78,000 active duty and reserve personnel, the military has a significant relationship with Hawaii. The Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs presents an opportunity to demonstrate that development of training ranges and other essential military facilities can be done in balance with local cultural and environmental needs, all while ensuring our obligation to support the veterans who have made sacrifices to our nation.

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

Hawaii’s representation on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee is important to sustaining past gains and continuing to address the significant education and health disparities faced by the Native Hawaiian community—given the geographical, cultural, and financial barriers that prevent Native Hawaiians from accessing existing health services. It will also help represent the needs of rural and low-income communities as well as underserved populations living in island communities and isolated parts of the country.

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Because of Hawaii’s unique location and geography, the state depends on federal transportation funding to build and maintain the infrastructure it needs to grow the economy and connect its communities. With the Department of Transportation’s help, Hawaii will complete the state’s first light rail project, invest in needed highway improvements, provide access to goods with port improvements, and make communities more walkable.

Legislative Branch – Ranking Member

The agencies and offices that provide for safety and functionality for those who work within and visit the United States Capitol Complex are funded in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. Offices such as the United States Capitol Police and Senate Sergeant at Arms oversee and execute safety functions while agencies like the Library of Congress, Government Accountability Office, and Congressional Budget Office facilitate the work of the legislative branch and provide public access to the documents elected officials use every day to help inform decisions in their official capacity.

SCHATZ CALLS FOR FULL CONGRESSIONAL REVIEW OF AUMF

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz issued the following statement in response to reports that President Obama plans to send to Congress a proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) specific to the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL):

“While I have not seen the President’s proposal for an Authorization of the Use of Military Force to destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sending an AUMF to Congress is a critical first step. Congress must exercise its constitutional role in authorizing the use of force. Under the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, the President does not have the authority to conduct an open-ended war against ISIL.

“ISIL is a group of barbaric terrorists and their extreme tactics display a shocking brutality that must be confronted. But the United States needs a clear strategy for defeating this threat. Congress should revoke the existing AUMFs and debate a strategy for a new authorization tailored specifically for ISIL. A new time-limited and geographically-targeted authorization will help sharpen our policy and align appropriations for the mission. And it must make clear that the United States cannot commit U.S. ground forces to combat ISIL.”

Last December, Schatz and Sen. Baldwin (D-Wis.) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to submit for Congressional consideration a proposed AUMF specific to ISIL.

SCHATZ STATEMENT ON THE ADMINISTRATION’S PROPOSED AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST ISIL

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz issued the following statement on the Administration’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL):

“The Administration’s decision to send an Authorization for Use of Military Force to Congress is a critical step towards ensuring a robust debate about the U.S. strategy for defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL is a group of barbaric terrorists and their extreme tactics display a shocking brutality that must be stopped. But the United States, working in support of coalition partners, needs a clear strategy for defeating this threat, and Congress must exercise its constitutional role in authorizing any use of force.

“I am pleased with the Administration’s proposal of a time-limited authorization specifically for ISIL, but I have reservation about other provisions in the request. I am troubled by the ambiguity regarding our commitment of ground troops as well as the lack of specificity about what individuals and groups will be considered associated with ISIL. Without that specificity, Congress risks authorizing a war against an ever expanding list of persons and organizations in an ever growing number of countries. Moreover, while the proposed authorization would repeal the 2002 AUMF for Iraq, it is silent on the issue of the 2001 AUMF that has given the Executive Branch broad powers in conducting open-ended military operations abroad. Congress must also repeal the 2001 AUMF.”

SCHATZ CALLS FOR BIPARTISAN SOLUTIONS TO AMERICA’S ENERGY SECURITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz spoke on the Senate floor and called for cooperation in moving forward bipartisan energy policies that address climate change and advance American energy security.

“American energy policy is not defined by one project, or one piece of infrastructure, however contentious it may be,” said Schatz. “There are a few areas where we are going to fight – there is no avoiding it, and that’s okay. But there is, for the first time since I arrived, a glimmer of hope that we may be able to find common ground on some of these issues and begin a serious discussion about tackling American energy policy and climate change.”

Full text of remarks follow:

The Keystone legislation is moving to the President’s desk, and he will veto it. The votes are not there to override a veto, either in the Senate or the House. Legislation has a natural lifecycle, and this piece of legislation is reaching the end of its lifecycle. This debate is almost over.

So where are we when it comes to American energy policy? The debate that occurred on Keystone was no doubt an important one, but it was exactly upside down. Congress and the media treated the Keystone bill as if it would settle American energy policy once and for all, when in fact it was and is a tiny sliver of the debate. American energy policy is not defined by one project, or one piece of infrastructure, however contentious it may be.

But in order to have a real energy conversation, we have to agree on the facts, and this body cannot be the only place where there is a lack of consensus on the basic facts. That’s why Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment, my amendment, Sen. Hoeven’s amendment, and those of many others were so important. Last month’s climate votes were illuminating and they were encouraging.

First, Sen. Whitehouse’s language, which simply stated that climate change was not a hoax, received a nearly unanimous vote. Believe it or not that was progress.

But my amendment which stated that climate change was real, caused by humans, and has real and significant impacts, received a bare majority of the votes, with five Republicans supporting it. Sen. Hoeven’s amendment had similar language, as well as some pro-Keystone language, and attracted a dozen or so Republican votes.

So what is the significance of all of this? It’s very simple – without acknowledging the problem, we cannot even begin to work on it. The wall of denial has begun to crack. So now we have a majority, and depending on how it is phrased, even a potential supermajority in the Senate saying that climate change is real. Now, most every serious person in public life either admits the basic facts of climate change, or is on their way to getting there.

So that’s a good thing – now the question is – what should we do, given our regional differences, our ideological differences, and the partisan divide?

What comes next?

Later this year or next, we will see efforts to repeal a number of important environmental rules, especially the Administration’s Clean Power Plan, which will regulate carbon pollution from existing and new power plants. But, that too is highly unlikely to result in anything other than a presidential veto.

So are there any areas for potential common ground?

I think we have seen real glimmers of hope and possibility during the Keystone debate.

Several of my Republican colleagues made the argument during debate on Keystone that while climate change is a real problem, we must be aware of how energy costs influence economic activity.

I could not agree more. You don’t hear this often from folks on my side of the debate, but price matters. No climate policy is a real solution unless it strengthens both the national and global economies. As we pursue clean energy we must understand its impacts on consumers, especially individuals and families in lower income communities, as well as businesses. We miss an opportunity to find common ground if we move too quickly past the questions of cost and the social and economic context in which this transition is going to occur.

We can contend with these problems and challenges in Congress through a legislative solution. We can provide incentives, create market-based mechanisms, look at regional differences, fund R&D to help develop new and less expensive solutions. EPA certainly has the authority and the obligation under the law to regulate carbon and other greenhouse gases. And so I support the President’s Clean Power Plan – because carbon pollution is real, and it ought to be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

But if we want to be more comprehensive, if we want to be more nuanced, more flexible, more responsive to communities, we need a bill. Structured properly, a bill has the advantage of creating economically efficient solutions that can reduce carbon pollution from a much wider range of sources.

That’s why a well-designed fee on carbon is critical for our economy and our environment.

But look, I understand that the politics are nearly impossible right now, but if you think about our ability as legislators to remunerate communities struggling during a transition, to ameliorate certain economic challenges, you may agree that legislating provides us the tools to achieve greater pollution reductions at a much lower social and economic cost. And so once the Clean Power Plan is established, once it’s litigated, and once it’s full-on reality, I believe that there may be room for compromise.

One more thing on the question of price: I believe we ought to do our calculations on an all-in basis. That includes tax expenditures, environmental damage, health impacts, and other so-called externalities. There is plenty of good research that indicates that clean energy technology is competitive with fossil fuel technology when all costs are added in. Additionally, the cost of solar energy, wind energy, and energy efficiency is dropping precipitously, and in many places, is competing successfully in the free market even before we consider the costs of pollution.

So we will have a couple of battles that are unavoidable – the Clean Power Plan, and likely another run at Keystone.
But there are a couple of areas that in my view don’t have to be a battle – energy efficiency and energy research:

We ought to start with the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency legislation. I have little doubt that Democrats would support this as a stand-alone bill. Energy efficiency is just common sense, and the energy experts remind us of something that our mothers and fathers taught us growing up – waste not, want not. In other words, the straightest line towards saving money for people, businesses, and institutions is to help them adopt the latest energy efficiency practices and technologies.

Now even this became a partisan issue in the last several Congresses, with people worried that light bulb efficiency standards were part of some Orwellian plot. But that’s not what those Department of Energy standards do, and it’s not what Shaheen- Portman does. At its core, energy efficiency is simply this: use less but get the same result. Using less means paying less. Getting the same result means not having to sacrifice your way of life. The idea is not to ask people to do without – the idea is to just get more for our money. It’s an old school conservative idea. And of course, the Shaheen-Portman bill doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime, and projections are that it will create nearly two hundred thousand jobs.

I also think there is a lot room for some good bipartisan work in advanced technology research in the energy space –

· The kind that the Department of Energy did for Hawaii in developing a grid system that can accommodate unprecedented levels of intermittent renewable energy.

· The kind that made major advances in hydraulic fracturing.

· The kind that has helped the price of solar panels to drop 80 percent since 2008.

· The kind that’ making breakthroughs in battery storage, which has fallen in price by 40 percent since 2010.

· The kind that is working on carbon capture and sequestration.

America must lead on energy – and that requires that we do the kind of basic research that private companies can eventually use. And a relatively small increase in research funding, both on the fossil and renewable side, has been shown to make an enormous impact on our economy. Investments in renewable and fossil fuel electricity generation, distribution and transmissions systems, grid stability and security, and fuel systems will enable America to lead in energy for decades to come.

These are the kinds of investments that we would see in a comprehensive energy bill, and I was so encouraged last week that the Chairman of the Energy Committee, the Senator from Alaska, has indicated her desire to pursue comprehensive legislation this Congress. And she is a real killed bipartisan legislator — real skilled bipartisan legislator and I’m looking forward to working with her on these issues. I’m especially encouraged by her openness to climate provisions as a part of that bill, something she mentioned as recently as last week. Just as she has listened to the concerns I and others raised about climate during the Keystone debate, so should we listen to her call for a reliable, affordable, clean, and diverse energy supplies.

Several energy proposals contained within the President’s budget could become a part of a bill, including ideas to more fully promote carbon capture and sequestration technologies and protect coal workers and their communities as we transition The concerns of communities that have coal-based economies are real and legitimate, and I believe any true climate solution must prioritize solutions for everyone. The President recognizes that and proposed $55 million next year to help affected communities diversify their economies, offer job training, and ensure a just transition.

This will require compromise, and it will require those of us on the left to concede that fossil fuels will not disappear instantaneously, and it will require those on the right to recognize that investing in clean energy technologies doesn’t mean picking winners and losers. We have wind energy in nearly all states – in fact, more in Republican than Democratic states – and we have Tea Party members everywhere who love the freedom and liberty that rooftop solar offers, and we have clean energy progressives, including me, who understand that we have to deal with the energy system we have, not the one we wish we had.

The areas I have mentioned are not the only opportunities for bipartisan compromise. But we do need to start a dialogue, either on the floor, in committees, or in informal discussions, about what we can actually do.

And as we consider a policy solution, let’s ask the following questions:

1. Can it be enacted into law?
2. Will it advance American energy security?
3. Will it strengthen the economy and provide economic growth?
4. Will it reduce carbon pollution?

There are a few areas where we are going to fight – there is no avoiding it, and that’s okay. But there is, for the first time since I arrived, a glimmer of hope that we may be able to find common ground on some of these issues and begin a serious discussion about tackling American energy policy and climate change.

SCHATZ STATEMENT ON FCC CHAIRMAN WHEELER’S NET NEUTRALITY PROPOSAL

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, issued the following statement on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Wheeler’s net neutrality proposal:

“I congratulate Chairman Wheeler for his leadership in putting forth a proposal to establish net neutrality rules tailored for the 21st century. A free and open Internet is critical to fostering innovation and enabling continued investment in our nation’s broadband network. It must continue to be a level playing field where everyone has an equal opportunity to compete. I am pleased that the Chairman’s proposal bans blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization for both mobile and fixed broadband providers. I believe that these new proposed rules provide clear regulatory guidance for industry while at the same time, preserving the FCC’s authority to prevent other forms of discrimination that threaten Internet openness in the future.”

Prior to Chairman Wheeler’s announcement, Schatz authored an op-ed in the Huffington Post calling for clear net neutrality protections.

SCHATZ STATEMENT ON FCC AWS-3 SPECTRUM AUCTION

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, issued the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission’s AWS-3 spectrum auction which raised $44.9 billion:

“Today marks a key milestone in U.S. spectrum policy. The success of the AWS-3 auction has ensured funding for our critically important public safety network, so that our first responders across the country will be able to communicate with each other and have the resources necessary to save lives. It has also shown that it is possible to work together on a bipartisan basis and across agencies to free up spectrum and shows a path forward for making more spectrum available for innovative commercial use.”

SCHATZ, DURBIN INTRODUCE SEQUESTRATION RELIEF ACT OF 2015

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced the Sequestration Relief Act of 2015 which would restore funding for critical domestic and defense programs.

“This legislation will help blunt some of the negative impacts sequestration has had on working families and our economy,” said Schatz. “It will provide Congress with an increased ability to restore funding for numerous priorities and needs, such as veterans benefits, medical research, education, infrastructure, and national security.”

“As a result of the forced budget savings put in place by the sequester, we have fallen behind in critical areas of federal investment, like transportation and basic medical research,” Durbin said. “Instead of taking a hammer to the federal budget, we should be using a scalpel.”

In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act which set in place a series of caps on spending.

The Sequestration Relief Act of 2015 would allow for increased investment at home and in support of our national defense for the next two years by lifting the budget caps so that our families, our cities and counties, and our military leaders have a reprieve while Congress attempts to permanently fix the sequester.

The legislation would provide reasonable flexibility to provide additional resources to support programs important to the nation and Hawaii and increase funding for national defense, transportation, health, energy, and social welfare programs.

SCHATZ, SPEIER CALL ON GOODELL TO CLARIFY NFL POLICY ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL ASSAULT

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) sent a letter to National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell, urging the NFL to clearly spell out how it will penalize teams that do not proactively move to prevent domestic and sexual assaults by league employees.

In their letter to NFL Commissioner Goodell, Schatz and Congresswoman Speier wrote, “We urge you to create accountability at all levels of the NFL, particularly among team owners, who have the most direct financial incentives to avoid long-term suspensions and quickly get players back on the field. We noted that your January 15, 2015 letter did not address the potential removal of draft picks as a penalty for teams that do not address domestic violence and sexual assaults properly. Please provide further clarification on whether the removal of draft picks will be used as a penalty for teams that do not appropriately address domestic violence and sexual assault.”

During a December 2, 2014 Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Schatz questioned Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, about domestic violence in the NFL. In response, Mr. Vincent stated that the NFL was reviewing options to hold teams more accountable for the culture of excusing domestic violence which include “the removal of draft picks.” Following the hearing, Schatz sent Commissioner Goodell a letter calling on the NFL to address domestic violence and the pervasive culture of avoiding long-term suspensions to quickly get players back on the field for financial motives. Although Commissioner Goodell responded, his letter did not clearly state the NFL’s policy or penalty for teams that do not appropriately address domestic violence and sexual assault.

Congresswoman Speier also sent a letter to Commissioner Goodell last September, calling on the league to put in place protocols that would hold the owners, teams, and players accountable. She requested that the NFL adopt a policy of suspending players immediately following a credible accusation of domestic violence, as numerous public and private sector organizations do, in order to send a signal that the league takes these offenses seriously.

Full text of the letter is as follows:

February 24, 2015

Dear Commissioner Goodell,

Thank you for your response to our concerns regarding the National Football League’s (NFL) updated policies related to domestic violence and sexual assault. We appreciate the efforts that the League has made to address violence, particularly by providing enhanced education and prevention efforts, incorporating domestic violence and sexual assault awareness into the NFL’s public service and charitable giving, and strengthening the League Personal Conduct Policy to include clear steps for disciplinary action. We respect your efforts to establish this policy with input from multiple stakeholders and your commitment to ensuring that child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, animal abuse, and other violent behaviors are not tolerated.

We urge you to create accountability at all levels of the NFL, particularly among team owners, who have the most direct financial incentives to avoid long-term suspensions and quickly get players back on the field. In the December 2, 2014, hearing by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the NFL’s representative Mr. Vincent noted that a potential penalty for teams that do not proactively move to prevent and punish domestic violence and sexual assaults by their employees would be the removal of future draft picks.

The NFL has previously penalized teams by removing draft picks for other infractions, including the 2007 New England Patriots (videotaping opposing team signals) and the 2009-2012 New Orleans Saints (giving non-contract bonuses for injuring opposing team players). We support this potential disciplinary action as a significant indication that the NFL takes these issues very seriously and intends to hold teams responsible for allowing cultures of violence and abuse.

We noted that your January 15, 2015 letter did not address the potential removal of draft picks as a penalty for teams that do not address domestic violence and sexual assaults properly. Please provide further clarification on whether the removal of draft picks will be used as a penalty for teams that do not appropriately address domestic violence and sexual assault.

Thank you for your attention to this pressing issue.

Sincerely,

BRIAN SCHATZ
U.S. Senator

JACKIE SPEIER
U.S. Representative

From Sen. Brian Schatz:

It’s an honor to serve as your Senator, hearing your diverse concerns and working to address them. My staff has put together this newsletter, covering the last year, to keep you informed about our work on your behalf and on behalf of the country. I hope you find it useful and informative.

Representing you and making sure your voice is heard in Washington is a great honor. In the year ahead, please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is any way we can assist you or your community. We’re here to help.

Mahalo

Helping Puna Recover

When Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall last August, it caused massive damage across Hawaii, but it was the Puna area that was hit the hardest. Downed albizia trees cut power and blocked streets, making it difficult for residents to access basic necessities.

Immediately following the disaster, Schatz and his staff were on the ground in Puna to help distribute food, ice, and water to Puna residents and organize local, state, and federal relief efforts.

Working beyond the immediate relief effort, Schatz along with Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, HELCO, State Sen. Russell Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council, and the U.S. Forest Service assembled a task force to develop a hazard mitigation plan for invasive albizia trees on Hawaii Island.

In addition to working with local officials, Schatz called on the U.S. secretaries of agriculture and interior to request federal support in responding to downed albizias. With all available state and local level resources being used, Schatz met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials to discuss the need for federal disaster assistance for Hawaii County. As a result, President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for Hawaii, releasing federal funds for FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which covers repairs or replacement of public infrastructure, debris removal, and emergency protective measures. In addition, the disaster declaration made all areas statewide eligible to apply for assistance to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Since Iselle, Schatz and his staff have returned to Puna to continue their work to assist in the relief effort, develop an alibizia mitigation plan, and address the Kilauea lava flow which continues to threaten the community. Together with Mayor Kenoi, Schatz continues to collaborate with local, state, and federal officials to make sure the Puna community has the resources it needs to recover.

Restoring Access to Chain of Craters Road for Puna Residents

On June 27, 2014 lava began to flow from the Pu‘u ‘O‘o vent in the East Rift Zone of the Kilauea Volcano. The flow headed east, directly towards the town of Pahoa in lower Puna. While it has slowed and stopped at times, it continued to advance and is projected to eventually cross and block Highway 130. Highway 130 is the only road connecting lower Puna to the rest of the island and is crucial to providing access into and out of the community, as well as to hospitals, schools, jobs, and other resources.

Mayor Billy Kenoi has been working to reopen two older roads makai of Highway 130, but it is expected that eventually the lava will flow over these roads as well on its way to the ocean – completely cutting the Puna community off from the outside world.

Schatz worked closely with Mayor Billy Kenoi, the National Park Service (NPS), and the Department of Interior to expedite the review, approval, and construction of Chain of Craters Road. The NPS originally approved a one-lane road, however, such a road would prohibit sufficient access to and from lower Puna for its more than 8,000 residents, limit emergency vehicles from accessing the area, and hinder other vehicles from transporting everyday necessities to those in need.

Schatz spoke directly with U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, to make Hawaii’s case. In addition, he personally visited Volcanoes National Park with Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando to survey the Chain of Craters Road. As a result of a collaborative effort with Hawaii County, on October 10, Schatz and Mayor Kenoi announced that the NPS had agreed to the permitting and construction of a two-lane gravel road on the covered portions of Chain of Craters Road. This road will provide access to and from lower Puna, giving residents peace of mind, while also creating an adequate route for emergency vehicles.

Saving 220 Jobs on Hawaii Island, Maui, and Kauai

When United Airlines announced its proposal to cut more than 200 good-paying jobs at Kona, Lihue, and Kahului airports, Schatz and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), which represents thousands of working families, fought back and won. In letters and meetings with United, Schatz voiced his strong opposition to United’s proposal to cut ground operations jobs at three neighbor island airports which would have left hundreds of hard-working families struggling to make ends meet.

After three months of meetings and with the support of his Senate colleagues, Schatz urged United Airlines and IAMAW to negotiate a new agreement that saved 220 neighbor island jobs on Hawaii Island, Maui and Kauai.

Today, because of a solid team effort, more than 200 people have jobs with United and can continue to support their families, creating stronger communities and local economies across the state.

“I am glad United Airlines heeded our call to reconsider their outsourcing plan and followed through with their commitment. These 220 local jobs across our state are not only important to the working families they directly affect, but are also central to our visitor industry and local economy.”

Improving Economic Development and Protecting Water Resources in Kona

Last year, the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park requested the designation of North Kona’s Keauhou Aquifer as a Ground Water Management Area. The special designation would help protect critical flows of ground water into the fishponds and pools within the park, but would also mean increased oversight and regulation of drilling and pumping in the area. This left some residents and business owners concerned about the possible effects on economic development.

After listening to the concerns of the Kona community, Schatz worked with Mayor Billy Kenoi and National Parks Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and proposed a mediation process to make sure the voices of residents and business owners were being heard. Knowing that the needs of the community can be balanced with environmental protections, Schatz is continuing to work with local, state, and federal officials to find common sense community-based solutions that will protect the Keauhou Aquifer and the vital water it provides.

Securing Hawaii’s Fair Share of Federal Funds

Essential Air for Waimea-Kohala, Essential Air Service and Rural Airport Improvement Fund – eligible for funding totaling $155 million (nationwide)

The Essential Air Service Program (EAS) ensures access to our nation’s air transportation system for communities that would likely go unserved. Waimea’s subsidized air service would ensure adequate availability of roundtrip air transportation to and from Waimea and increase access to quality, affordable air transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation provides EAS subsidies of more than $400,000 annually for service to and from Waimea.

Hele-On Bus System, Federal Transit Administration Formula Grants – est. $43 million (statewide)

The Hele-On Bus System will be eligible for formula grants through the Federal Transit Administration, which will help ensure access to quality, affordable public transit island-wide. Funding for this program will flow through the state government.

Airports and Airways – $15.8 billion for FAA, $3.4 billion for Airport Improvement (nationwide)

As an island state, reliable air travel is especially critical for Hawaii residents, visitors, and business travelers. The state will receive funds for critical improvements, enabling Hawaii to continue to grow as a visitor destination and economic center. This funding will keep Hawaii’s four contract control towers open.

East-West Center (EWC) – $16.7 Million

Schatz worked with Senate appropriations leaders to increase the funding by nearly $6 million above the request in the President’s budget. Last year, Congress provided the same funding level of $16.7 million for the EWC, which not only allowed the Center to continue its existing activities, but also initiate new activities to strengthen ties and promote relations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Native Hawaiian Health Care – $13.7 million

All Native Hawaiians should have access to essential health services. Native Hawaiian Health Centers, run through the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems (NHHCS) program, provide critical access to health education, promotion, disease prevention, and basic primary care services for the more than 8,400 Native Hawaiians enrolled in the NHHCS programs. This funding will support five health centers on Hawaii Island, Kauai, Molokai, Maui, and Oahu.

Native Hawaiian Education – $32.4 million

Early childhood education is an important predictor of future educational success. Funding from the Native Hawaiian Education grant program supports education programs to help strengthen Native Hawaiian culture, increase community cohesion, sustain and advance Native Hawaiian language learning and literacy, improve levels of educational attainment, and enhance family and community involvement in education – all of which have been directly correlated with positive educational, social, and economic outcomes.

Native Hawaiian Housing – $9.1 million

Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant funds can be used to provide financial assistance for Native Hawaiian families to acquire new housing, rehabilitate existing homes, build certain community facilities and receive housing services, including homeownership counseling, financial literacy and other critical resources needed to address housing disparities. The Native Hawaiian Housing Loan Guarantee Fund program will provide access to sources of private financing up to $16.1 million to promote greater ownership, rehabilitation and new construction for Native Hawaiians seeking to build a new home or repair an existing home.

Hawaii Highways – est. $165 million

Federal funds will pay for upkeep, construction, and continuing improvements for Hawaii’s highways and bridges. With some of the most dangerous roads for pedestrians in the nation, these funds also support improvements to make the roads safer for all users.

Environmental Restoration of Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) – $250 million

This program allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue its efforts to identify and remove unexploded ordnance at former military sites across the neighbor islands, ensuring that military training and activities remain in balance with Hawaii’s cultural and environmental sensitivities. Schatz worked to protect funding for the program, increasing funding by more than $40 million above the president’s proposed budget.

U.S. Tsunami Warning System – $26.9 million

Major tsunamis occur about once per decade. Based on historical data, about 59% of the world’s tsunamis have occurred in the Pacific Ocean, 25% in the Mediterranean Sea, 12% in the Atlantic Ocean, and 4% in the Indian Ocean. The funding supports investments in tsunami warning infrastructure and expands outreach activities to enable preparedness throughout the Pacific. It also supports increased grant funding to improve local education, awareness, and inundation and evacuation map development.

One Response to “Updates from Sen. Schatz (Jan. 29-Feb. 24)”

  1. Jr. Boy says:

    ALL of these new reports from our politicos are verbose, & layered upon layer.
    Self-serving dia-tribes of rationalization for all they get paid by lobbyists.

    there are Veterans- right now- Veterans of Vietnam, Gulf I & II-homeless,crippled or buss up, and suffering repeated staph & gangrene infection in EVERY park, EVERY Bus Station. Thousands more living in a ” one room” or ” friends Place” with a hot plate and little else…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 

 

Become a fan on facebook

 

 

Quantcast
%d bloggers like this: