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Hawaii Senator Calls Trump: Racist, Bully, Bigot and Fraudster

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz today called out Republican Candidate Donald Trump in an interview that was posted in a Civil Beat article entitled, Schatz Enjoys A Comfortable Perch On Capitol Hill.

Senator Schatz in Pahoa after Tropical Storm Iselle.

Senator Schatz in Pahoa after Tropical Storm Iselle.

Schatz states the following about the Republican Candidate:

“This goes way beyond how you feel about any individual issue or whether you consider yourself conservative, moderate or liberal,” Schatz said. “This is about whether or not the United States is going to elect someone who is mentally unfit, who is a racist, a bully, a bigot and a fraudster to the highest office in the land.

More here: http://www.civilbeat.org/2016/07/schatz-enjoys-a-comfortable-perch-on-capitol-hill/

Senator Schatz Meets with Admiral Harris at RIMPAC

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) lead a congressional delegation to the Asia Pacific to participate in high-level meetings with leaders in Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. Before heading to Asia yesterday, the delegation toured the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) headquarters at Camp Smith and met with Admiral Harry Harris, PACOM commander.

USS America pulls into Pearl Harbor

USS America pulls into Pearl Harbor

Following a briefing with Admiral Harris, the delegation boarded the USS AMERICA.  While onboard, the group toured the ship, observed the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise, and met with sailors serving aboard the USS AMERICA.

In addition to Schatz, members of the delegation include U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.S. Representatives Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), and Donna Edwards (D-Md.).

Sen. Schatz Urges FTC to Investigate Commercial Use of Short-Term Lodging Rental Services

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, today called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the commercial use of the rapidly expanding short-term lodging rental market.
airbnb
The letter, which was also signed by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), urges the FTC to study the commercial manner in which individuals or firms are using online services such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey to profit from short-term rentals, taking housing inventory off the market and driving up the cost of rent.

“We are concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities.  We have also read troubling reports of racial discrimination on some short-term rental platforms. Furthermore, we are concerned that communities and consumers may be put at risk through violations of sensible health, safety, and zoning regulations under state and local law,” the senators wrote.  “In order to assess of the use and impact of the short-term rental market, we need reliable data on the commercial use of online platforms.  We believe the FTC is best positioned to address this data gap in an unbiased manner and we urge the Commission to conduct a review of commercial operators on short-term rental platforms.”

The letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez also raised concerns about recent data which revealed that commercial users in New York made up an outsized share of the revenue from short-term rentals and a vast majority of units violated state and local laws.  The subpoenaed data along with recent housing disputes with these companies in cities like Honolulu and San Francisco underscore the immediate need for further study of this issue.

The full text of the letter is below and is available for download in PDF format by clicking here.

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez,

We write today to urge the Federal Trade Commission to study and quantify the degree to which the rapidly expanding short-term lodging rental market consists of persons or firms acting in a commercial manner by renting out entire residences or multiple residences simultaneously.

This distinction is critical to Congress and state and local lawmakers as we seek to assess the wide-ranging impact of the short-term rental industry on the communities in which they operate.  In recent years, we have seen the emergence and rapid growth of companies like Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and Flipkey.  On one hand, these firms have sparked innovation, increased competition, and have provided new means by which our constituents can earn extra income.  On the other hand, we are concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities.  We have also read troubling reports of racial discrimination on some short-term rental platforms. Furthermore, we are concerned that communities and consumers may be put at risk through violations of sensible health, safety, and zoning regulations under state and local law.

For example, in a report based on data gathered from Airbnb pursuant to a subpoena, the New York Attorney General found that commercial users (those with 3 or more unique units) accounted for a disproportionate share of the revenue generated from short-term rentals.  The commercial users accounted for only 6% of the hosts in New York City, yet generated 37% of the revenue.  Furthermore, the report indicated that 72% of unique units rented in New York City appeared to violate state and local law.

At the FTC’s June 9, 2015, workshop entitled “The ‘Sharing’ Economy:  Issues Facing Platforms, Participants and Regulators” there was widespread agreement that more information and data was needed to properly assess the impacts of the short-term rental industry on communities.  Unfortunately, the platform companies, which are the best positioned to provide this type of information, seem reluctant to do so.  And even if platform companies do share their data, concerns have been raised about the reliability of this data.

We are also troubled by efforts of platform companies to negotiate agreements with state and local governments to collect and provide aggregate tax payments on rentals processed through their systems without providing more detailed information that would help officials to determine the legality of those rentals.  In other cases, online platforms appear to be complying with state and local tax laws inconsistently, collecting taxes in some jurisdictions and not others.

In order to assess of the use and impact of the short-term rental market, we need reliable data on the commercial use of online platforms.  We believe the FTC is best positioned to address this data gap in an unbiased manner and we urge the Commission to conduct a review of commercial operators on short-term rental platforms.  We hope the FTC would be able to release the results of such an investigation on a standalone basis or as part of any report issued on the “sharing economy.”

Schatz, Senate Democrats Urge President Obama To Take Robust & Aggressive Actions to Address the Spread of Zika Virus – Comments on Dengue Fever Outbreak

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) joined 45 Senate Democrats today and released a new letter to President Obama urging a coordinated interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad.

Mosquito Bite

“As the dengue outbreak continues to impact communities on Hawai‘i Island, we need more aggressive action to contain it and to stop the threat of Zika, another mosquito-borne virus that is devastating dozens of countries around the world,” said Senator Schatz. “By increasing funding for critical government research and response programs, we can make real progress toward mitigating the impact of the Zika virus abroad and preventing its spread to Hawai‘i and the United States.”

The letter calls for the President to take a number of new actions, including taking the Zika virus into consideration as the Administration coordinates, and allocates resources in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY16, and moves forward with the President’s upcoming FY17 budget request, or subsequent amendments. Additionally, Senate Democrats are urging President Obama to:

  • Develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the Zika virus both at home and abroad;
  • Direct USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify key gaps in the international and country-level response in order to best inform our response plan and disseminate, where appropriate, at border crossings and airports;
  • Ensure that federal agencies work with state and local partners to develop a cohesive national strategy for the monitoring, identification, and reporting of domestic Zika infections;
  • Direct HHS and the Department of Homeland Security to develop educational materials to inform travelers regarding the risk of Zika virus exposure;
  • Ramp up research efforts, including at the National Institutes of Health, to better understand the link between the Zika virus, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and other public health impacts and accelerate rapid diagnostic and vaccine development; and
  • Encourage federal agencies to coordinate, collaborate, or share information with their international counterparts.

The Zika Virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti species of mosquitoes, which are also found in the United States. For most, the symptoms of Zika are mild, but when pregnant women become infected, the effects can be devastating. Zika has been linked to microcephaly in developing fetuses, which can lead to below-average head size, developmental difficulties, and brain damage.

The full text of the Senate Democrats’ letter is below:

Dear President Obama:

The ongoing outbreak of the Zika virus requires an urgent and aggressive response from the United States. We are writing to urge you to develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad, and protect pregnant women and children. We also recognize that much is still unknown about the Zika virus, and therefore urge you to consider the potential impact the Zika virus will have on the funding needs of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) Program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Services Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, and other key programs in Fiscal Year (FY)17. We believe that a well-coordinated interagency response plan, coupled with strong investments in our research and response programs, is critical to addressing the Zika virus.

The Zika virus is transmitted via bites from the same kind of mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. For most, the symptoms of Zika are mild, but when pregnant women become infected, there is early evidence its effects can be devastating. Zika has been linked to microcephaly in developing fetuses, which can lead to below-average head size, developmental difficulties, and brain damage. Scientists are also evaluating a possible link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare condition that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. These potential impacts have spurred the World Health Organization to declare the rise in Zika-linked birth defects and neurological conditions a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

In the Americas, it is anticipated that the outbreak could infect up to 4 million people. Because Zika is carried by low-moisture dwelling mosquitos, local transmission is predicted to spread to all countries and territories where the Aedes aegypti is found, including the United States. There is a critical and urgent need for a robust and coordinated response at all levels of government, and it is necessary to enhance efforts to control outbreaks, counter the spread of the disease, and ultimately reduce the potential for outbreaks in the United States.

Investing in the effort to combat the Zika virus abroad is one of the most important things we can do to prevent widespread transmission of the virus at home. The USAID’s EPT Program helps developing countries prevent, detect, and control the outbreak of infectious diseases. The program has been able to successfully use the technical expertise of the CDC in African, Asian, and Latin American countries to combat infectious diseases like Zika. CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) further works to protect against the spread of diseases like the Zika virus both at home and abroad, while USDA’s Agricultural Research Services Mosquito and Fly Research Unit also plays a critical role in developing better means of mosquito detection, monitoring, and control.

We urge you to take the Zika virus into consideration as you coordinate and allocate resources in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY16 and move forward with your upcoming FY17 budget request or subsequent amendments.

At this time, it is also critically important that we take additional steps to respond to the ongoing outbreak and work to prevent additional cases of Zika from occurring in the United States. To meet this challenge we urge you to:

  • Develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the Zika virus both at home and abroad;
  • Direct USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify key gaps in the international and country-level response in order to best inform our response plan and disseminate, where appropriate, at border crossings and airports;
  • Ensure that federal agencies work with state and local partners to develop a cohesive national strategy for the monitoring, identification, and reporting of domestic Zika infections;
  • Direct HHS and the Department of Homeland Security to develop educational materials to inform travelers regarding the risk of Zika virus exposure;
  • Ramp up research efforts, including at the National Institutes of Health, to better understand the link between the Zika virus, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and other public health impacts and accelerate rapid diagnostic and vaccine development; and
  • Encourage federal agencies to coordinate, collaborate, or share information with their international counterparts.

By taking action now, we can make significant progress toward mitigating the impact of the Zika virus abroad and reduce the potential for Zika virus outbreaks in the United States. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Senator Schatz Replies to Donald Trump’s Proposal to Bar All Muslims From Entering the US

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement in response to Donald Trump’s proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the United States:

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

“When Donald Trump proposed to block all Muslims from entering the United States, he referred to Roosevelt’s classification of thousands of Japanese, Germans, and Italians during the war as “enemy aliens” as precedent.   This shameful page of our history led to the internment of thousands of Japanese American families.

“In 1988, President Reagan offered a formal apology for this disgrace.  We should remember this chapter in history in order to never repeat the same injustice.”

Senator Brian Schatz Responds to State of the Union Address

Today U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement following President Obama’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

Sen. Brian Schatz

Sen. Brian Schatz

“Tonight we heard the President lay out his vision for the year ahead to ensure that our economy continues its recovery and that our economic policies and priorities strengthen and expand the middle class.

“This is particularly important in Hawai‘i, where the high cost of living makes it tougher for hard-working middle class families to share in the American dream.

“For too long, the wealthiest Americans and big corporations have used unfair loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Tonight, the President proposed a simpler, fairer tax code that closes those loopholes and uses those savings to support tax credits for working parents. These smart investments will help middle class families succeed and bolster our economy.

“The President’s proposal to expand access to higher education and make community college free for every responsible student is an important step forward. We all know that a college education is the best way for people to move up the economic ladder.

“I am also glad that the President focused on home ownership and the need to make mortgages more affordable. Helping families attain the dream of home ownership is even more important in Hawai‘i, where the high prices stress family budgets.

“I hope as we begin the New Year my Republican colleagues in Congress will welcome the President’s proposals to strengthen the middle class and will work with Democrats to make the American dream a reality for all Americans.”

 

Senator Schatz Announces USDA Designation of Hawaii County as Natural Disaster Area

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated Hawai‘i County as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by wind, rain, and flooding from Tropical Storm Iselle. After a review of the Hawai‘i County Loss Assessment Reports, the USDA determined that there were sufficient agricultural production losses to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

“Many farmers in Puna are still recovering after suffering devastating crop loss due to Tropical Storm Iselle and they need our help,” Senator Schatz said. “I thank USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack for reviewing the Loss Assessment Reports and for issuing a Secretarial natural disaster designation for Hawai‘i County. Support from the USDA will help ensure that our farmers in Hawai‘i County will receive the assistance they need.”

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm, and the security and repayment ability of the operator.  So far, FSA has received over 100 inquiries for assistance from producers in Hawai‘i County.

Senator Schatz Urges President Obama, FEMA for Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) wrote letters to President Barack Obama and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today supporting the State of Hawai‘i’s request for a major disaster declaration due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Iselle from August 7-9, 2014.

Senator Brian Schatz  in Puna.

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna.

“Tropical Storm Iselle caused strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, high surf, storm surge, and lightning, which resulted in damages reported across all four counties in the State of Hawai‘i,” Senator Schatz wrote. “Hawai‘i County has a majority of the damages where it experienced loss of power and a lack of access to water. Hawai‘i County also has widespread debris that made it difficult for residents to access emergency services. Furthermore, preliminary damage assessments estimate that the total loss and damage to the island of Hawai‘i in agriculture and commodities is $66 million. With all available state and local level resources being used, federal assistance is needed to support our communities’ recovery.”

Senator Schatz also expressed his support for the State’s request for Individual Assistance for Hawai‘i County, statewide Hazard Mitigation, and Small Business Administration loan assistance programs to help with the recovery.

Since Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall, Senator Schatz’s office has been in close contact with the White House to discuss the impact of the storm and how the federal government can help residents and communities rebuild. Last week, Senator Schatz traveled to Puna and met with Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Russell Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council, and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia trees, which damaged infrastructure and caused widespread debris on Hawai‘i Island.

The full text of the letter to President Obama follows:

August 25, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write in support of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Iselle from August 7-9, 2014.

On August 7, 2014, Hurricane Iselle approached the Hawaiian Islands and made landfall on August 8, 2014, which then became a tropical storm. The Governor declared a statewide state of emergency on August 6, 2014 and signed a supplemental proclamation on August 14, 2014, which extended the state of emergency until October 17, 2014. Tropical Storm Iselle caused strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, high surf, storm surge, and lightning, which resulted in damages reported across all four counties in the State of Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i County has a majority of the damages where it experienced loss of power and a lack of access to water. Hawai‘i County also has widespread debris that made it difficult for residents to access emergency services. Furthermore, preliminary damage assessments estimate that the total loss and damage to the island of Hawai‘i in agriculture and commodities is $66 million. With all available state and local level resources being used, federal assistance is needed to support our communities’ recovery.

Pursuant to Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5121-5207), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I ask that you swiftly approve Governor Abercrombie’s request that the State of Hawai‘i receive a major disaster declaration. Specifically, I support the Governor’s request for Individual Assistance for Hawai‘i County. I also support his request for Hazard Mitigation statewide and Small Business Administration loan assistance programs.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.

Regards,

BRIAN SCHATZ
United States Senator

Gov. Abercrombie Signs Formal Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help pay for damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle, which impacted Hawaii from Aug. 7 to 9, 2014.

Shaka For HELCOThe request seeks Individual Assistance for Hawaii County. Individual Assistance would make additional funding, loans and services available to affected residents.

For updates on Iselle recovery efforts, visit the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency website at: scd.hawaii.gov

Leaders Begin Process of Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan for Albizia on the Big Island

Today, Senator Schatz met with Mayor Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia on the Big Island.

Senator Brian Schatz is back in Puna today.  Earlier he could be spotted handing out supplies to Hurricane Iselle victims at the Nanawale Longhouse.

Senator Brian Schatz is back in Puna today. Earlier he could be spotted handing out supplies to Hurricane Iselle victims at the Nanawale Longhouse.

Agreement was reached by all parties that all levels of government share responsibility for dealing with the hazard that these trees pose, and that the federal, state, and county government would provide financial and other resources towards this mitigation plan. HELCO also agreed, subject to approval by the PUC, to participate in the hazard mitigation program.

The next steps are to assemble all key stakeholders, and develop a hazard mitigation plan with a budget, and determine cost sharing. The target timeframe is to assemble the key stakeholders, and develop a preliminary hazard mitigation plan as soon as possible.

“Albizia wreaked havoc on power infrastructure and damaged private property, and we have to work together to minimize the likelihood that this happens again. I’m thankful for Mayor Kenoi’s leadership and assistance in helping to put together the resources necessary to mitigate this problem.”

Senator Schatz to Rejoin Team in Puna to Assist with Iselle Recovery Efforts

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced he will rejoin his team, who have remained on the ground in Puna, on Tuesday to assist with the recovery efforts, specifically focusing on federal funds, the mitigation of albizia trees, and disaster recovery.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Gil Kahele hep unload ice in Nanawale.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Gil Kahele help unload ice in Nanawale.

Schatz will meet with state and county officials and continue his collaboration with community members from Puna.

Schatz makes chili and rice bowls for the Puna Community

Schatz makes chili and rice bowls for the Puna Community

“I said on Friday night that my commitment to Puna’s recovery extends beyond any election or any election results, and I meant it,” Senator Schatz said. “This is going to take time and effort, and it won’t be easy, but I will continue to do everything that I can to be helpful.”

SNAP Hurricane Victims Eligible for Money for Food Losses Caused by Hurricane Iselle

Thousands of Hawaii households remain without electricity in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle this past weekend.  Most people affected by power outages reside on the east side of Hawaii Island. Others are scattered across Oahu and Maui County.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) reminds beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as Food Stamps) that beneficiary households may request reimbursement for the actual dollar value of food destroyed by storm related power outages.  The reimbursement cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment (HAR 17-681-31).

To qualify for reimbursement, the affected household must have been participating in the SNAP when the disaster occurred, and report the loss to the DHS Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) within 10 business days of the severe weather event. The deadline to submit reimbursement requests for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle is Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

To be considered for the reimbursement, the affected SNAP household must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1) Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2) General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3) Length of time household power was out of service;

4) Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5) Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned within 10 days.

BEFORE MAILING OR DROPPING OFF the reimbursement request, SNAP beneficiaries should contact the BESSD Processing Center that maintains their case file for additional instructions. Individuals who don’t know which Processing Center maintains their file may call (808) 586-5720 to inquire.

An estimated 98,000 households currently receive SNAP benefits statewide.  There are approximately 25,000 SNAP households on Hawaii Island; 5,000 on Kauai; and 12,000 in Maui County.  To learn more about the Hawaii SNAP, visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/snap.

Senator Schatz Lobbies FAA to Support Hawaii’s Ban on Aerial Advertising

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed that Honolulu’s aerial advertising ordinance remains valid.

Aerial Banner

The mainland-based company Aerial Banners North has been flying aerial banners over Oahu in violation of Honolulu’s ordinance banning aerial advertising, while ignoring citations from the Honolulu Police Department. The company has argued that its FAA certificate of waiver preempts the Honolulu ordinance and allows it to fly aerial banners over Oahu. In Washington, DC this week, Senator Schatz reached out to the FAA at the request of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and received a written response that the Honolulu ordinance prohibiting aerial advertising remains valid.

“This is great news for Oahu residents who don’t want to see their skies cluttered from mainland companies. One of the things that makes Hawai‘i beautiful is that we have well-thought out rules governing signage,” said Senator Schatz. “This letter from the FAA makes it clear that this rogue company is violating our law and we expect and hope that this clarification will cause them to stop what they’re doing.”

In the 2002 case of Skysign International, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 276 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2002), the Ninth Circuit ruled in support of Honolulu’s view that its prohibition on aerial advertising is not preempted by federal law. The FAA confirmed in writing today that the precedent from the Skysign case remains the FAA’s position and that Honolulu has the right to prohibit aerial advertising.

Senator Schatz Introduces Bills to Create Jobs and Grow Hawai‘i’s Economy

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz introduced two bills that will create high-quality jobs in Hawai‘i and promote American manufacturing as part of a collaborative “Make it in America” initiative with Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and other Senate colleagues.

Sen. Brian Schatz

Sen. Brian Schatz

  • The SelectUSA Authorization Act would help businesses tap into the investment needed to expand and create jobs, spur economic growth and promote American competitiveness. A companion bill in the House has been introduced by Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA).
  • The Native Small Business Conformity Act, introduced by Senators Schatz and Hirono, would enhance opportunities for Native Hawaiian Organizations to engage in federal contracting as other Native owned small business firms do.

In the coming weeks, Senator Schatz will also be introducing two additional bills to promote trade and incentivize energy efficiency in manufacturing.  The American Export Promotion Act, which accompanies legislation introduced in the House by Representative Pete Gallego (D-TX), would boost exports of Hawai‘i’s unique products and help small businesses access global markets. He will also be working with Senate colleagues to introduce the Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act, which would offer targeted incentives to promote energy efficiency improvements in industrial and manufacturing facilities and make American industry more competitive.

“These policies will help create good jobs in Hawai‘i and help Hawai‘i businesses grow,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz.  “New clean energy incentives, opportunities for Native Hawaiian small businesses, increasing Hawaii’s exports, and promoting foreign investment in our businesses are all part of a dynamic economy here in Hawai‘i.”

On SelectUSA Authorization Act of 2013:

“The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii supports the SelectUSA bill to provide funding in support of the organization’s efforts to showcase the Unites States as the world’s premier business location, and increase both foreign and domestic investment in U.S. business. This bill, if enacted, will enable SelectUSA to hold future conferences, including one with an Asia-Pacific focus, which, because of Hawaii’s strategic mid-Pacific location, would greatly benefit our local economy and businesses in the state, and is why the Chamber is proud to represent Hawaii at the inaugural SelectUSA Investment Summit.”
-Sherry Menor-McNamara, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce

American Export Promotion Act of 2013:

“As the sole representative to the National Association of Manufacturers for the State of Hawaii, The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii supports the American Export Promotion Act. We believe that Hawaii businesses could benefit from this legislation, which will help small and medium-sized businesses export their products across the globe. The Act’s promotion of American exports and advocating for small businesses and American jobs is good for Hawaii, and clearly ties in to the Chamber’s manufacturing in Hawaii initiative, which is designed to help the industry grow in the state.”
-Sherry Menor-McNamara, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce

“The American Export Promotion Act appears to be a vital step in supporting this essential effort for our economy. I feel strongly that Hawaii Small Businesses would benefit from the technical assistance that could be provided by the Hawaii SBDC to support development of plans to export, particularly to the Asia and Pacific Region.”
-Cathy Wiltse, Hawaii Small Business Development Center

On Native Small Business Conformity Act of 2013:

“The Native Hawaiian Organizations Association supports the Native Small Business Conformity Act of 2013, introduced by Senator Brian Schatz, which seeks to create opportunities for job growth in America. Though small in number, our companies have successfully created thousands of jobs while simultaneously contributing millions of dollars to support community-based non-profit organizations in areas including education, health, economic development, and culture.  This bill will allow us to advance our efforts by increasing business opportunities, creating jobs in Hawaii, and providing the resources to help us fulfill our mission to improve the socio-economic status of the Native Hawaiian community.”
-Ron Jarrett, President, Native Hawaiian Organizations Association

“NACA applauds the introduction of the Native Small Business Conformity Act, an initiative which will allow Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian community-owned businesses to continue to thrive and grow in today’s federal marketplace. We look forward to the favorable review of the bill, which is based on the federal trust responsibility for Native Americans. The advancement of this responsibility allows our communities to further our self-sufficiency and spur economic development across our nation.”
-Kevin Allis, Executive Director, Native American Contractors Association

Senator Brian Schatz on Ted Cruz All Night Grandstanding Effort on Senate Floor – “He Recklessly Wasted Valuable Time…”

Brian Schatz

Aloha —

They’ve really done it this time: Ted Cruz spent all night grandstanding on the Senate floor in an effort to abolish President Obama’s landmark healthcare legislation. He recklessly wasted valuable time holding up real debate and votes on the budget, bringing us even closer to a potential government shutdown.

Cruz’s threats are real – if we don’t pass a budget in the next few days, the government will shut down. Cruz and his Tea Party colleagues would rather send employees home without pay, send the economy into a tailspin, and delay essential public services than fund Obamacare.

We need to show Ted Cruz and his allies that strong progressives like you and me are willing to fight for better health care for middle-class families.

Obamacare is already providing better health care coverage at lower costs for millions of Americans — and it will work even better when the new health care exchanges open on October 1.

But extremists in the House and Senate — led by Texas tea party Senator Ted Cruz — want to kick millions of people off of their health plans, make seniors pay more for essential medications, and end preventive screenings for Medicare recipients.

That’s why my campaign for U.S. Senate is more important than ever. I’ve always stood up for — and will continue leading the fight for — Obamacare, Social Security, and other vital programs that support Hawaii families.

Seeing these values threatened last night and this morning — and seeing how Cruz and his allies are willing to recklessly waste valuable time to grandstand against the health of everyday families — makes me even more motivated to keep fighting for middle-class values.

I’ve got to stay in the Senate to stop people like Ted Cruz and his right-wing corporate cronies from taking away Obamacare.

We can’t let them him get away with this.

Aloha,

Brian Schatz
U.S. Senator 

 

Monsanto Protection Act Removed From Senate CR

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz released the following statement on the elimination of what is known as the “Monsanto Protection Act” from the Senate version of the short-term appropriations bill, the Continuing Resolution.

Brian Schatz
“The Monsanto Protection Act is bad policy for the country and the State of Hawai‘i,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. “The Senate version of the Continuing Resolution does not include this provision, effectively repealing the Monsanto Protection Act. This provision took the ability of the Secretary of Agriculture to fully exercise his regulatory power over GMOs, and compromised the role of our courts as a check on the legislative and executive systems, making it significantly more difficult for concerned citizens to present their case.

“I strongly urge the House not to sneak the Monsanto Protection Act back into the final version of the appropriations bill. However, if it is slipped back in, rather than letting the issue be deliberated with full transparency and public input, I will immediately introduce legislation to repeal it.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester from Montana led the charge in getting the Senate to remove the Monsanto Protection Act from the Continuing Resolution.

“Stripping the Monsanto Protection Act is a victory for American consumers and family farm agriculture,” said U.S. Senator Jon Tester.  “Corporate giveaways have no business in a bill to fund the government, and I’m pleased that the Senate stood up for accountability and transparency and against special interests.  I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Schatz to make sure that this damaging provision never again makes it into law.”

 

U.S. Department of Transportation Releases $236,277,358 in Federal Funds for Honolulu Rail Project

Today, Senator Schatz announced the release $236,277,358  in federal funds for the Honolulu Rail Transit project.  This U.S. Department of Transportation funding will be used to continue building Hawai‘i’s first light rail system.

The very first Honolulu Rail Column 45 (Copyright Iopa Maunakea use with permission only)

The very first Honolulu Rail Column (Copyright Iopa Maunakea use with permission only)

“Federal funding for the rail project continues to flow and we continue to receive assurance from the DOT and the FTA that it is full speed ahead,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “After 40 years in the making, the rail project is now quickly progressing and I will continue to work towards making a rail system in Hawai‘i a reality.”

Senator Schatz serves on the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Earlier this year, Senator Schatz met with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Transit Administrator Pete Rogoff to receive their commitment to defend Honolulu rail transit’s funding.

 

Senator Brian Schatz on Layoffs at the Tesoro Hawaii Refinery

Tesoro HawaiiMonday, Senator Brian Schatz released the following statement regarding the layoffs at the Tesoro refinery:

“My office has been in constant communication with the Tesoro companies and is working with the relevant state agencies to ensure that unemployment assistance, job placement and other help be provided to the workers that may be laid off. In addition, we are coordinating our efforts with the refinery task force to ensure that there is no disruption in fuel supply in the state of Hawaii, and we are confident for the purposes of Hawaii’s economy and the needs of the Department of Defense that fuel will continue to be available.  Our main concern is with the workers and their families, and we will do whatever we can to help them to land on their feet.”

 

Coast Guard Conducts Harbor Tour with Sen. Brian Schatz

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz met with the U.S. Coast Guard on Oahu and conducted a tour of Honolulu Harbor aboard one of the Coast Guard’s newest vessels, Tuesday.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

Rear Adm. Charles W. Ray, 14th Coast Guard District commander, hosted the tour and provided Schatz an up close look at Coast Guard operations in and around the Port of Honolulu. It was also an opportunity for Schatz to learn more about the role of the Coast Guard in the Hawaiian Islands and throughout the Pacific.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

Schatz was given the opportunity to pilot the 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, under the instruction of crewmembers from Station Honolulu. The RB-M is one of the Coast Guard’s newest assets with an improved design, new ergonomics, and enhanced safety features, making boat crews more effective in performing their various missions.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson

Shan Tsutsui Accepts Lieutenant Governor Position

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced that former state Senate President Shan S. Tsutsui has accepted the position of Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, effective immediately under the order of succession. The office was vacated yesterday by the appointment of former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to the U.S. Senate.

Shan S. Tsutsui

“Shan’s acceptance reflects this administration’s commitment to represent all the people of Hawaii as a statewide community, not one that is Oahu-centric,”said Gov. Abercrombie. “As demonstrated during his time in the Legislature and most recently as Senate President, Shan is extremely effective in bringing various parties together to benefit all the people of Hawaii.”

“The decision to leave the state Senate was not a choice I made lightly, but I am eager to make a meaningful contribution to the future of Hawaii as Lt. Governor,”Tsutsui said. “There is much work to be done in the Senate, but I have full confidence in my colleagues at the Legislature. I look forward to working with them this session in my new role.”

Plans are underway to establish an additional Office of the Lt. Governor on Maui, expanding the office’s reach and accessibility to all island communities. The Office of the Lt. Governor will continue to conduct business in the State Capitol in Honolulu.

“In the past, Neighbor Island elected officials might have thought they had to move to Honolulu in order to serve,”Gov. Abercrombie said. “In my view, this may no longer be necessary, especially as technology brings us closer together and the state’s IT transformation plan affords greater opportunities to conduct state business from all islands.”

Tsutsui served as the 12th Senate President of Hawaii. He is the first Senate President from Maui as well as the youngest. Elected to the Senate in 2002 to represent Hawaii’s 4th senatorial district, his previous leadership positions included the Vice Chair of Ways and Means and Majority Caucus Leader.

Tsutsui graduated from Maui High School in 1989 and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Hawaii in 1994. He and his wife, Lyndelle Lee Tsutsui, reside on Maui with their three daughters, Mikayla, Kaylee and Kenna.