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.

 

Video: U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono Rallies East Hawaii Voters at Big Island Bus Stop Tour

Big Island of Hawaii’s Democratic contingency took part in an East Hawaii Bus Stop tour today starting at Laupahoehoe Community Charter School and ending at Auntie Sally’s Luau in Hilo today.

I took the following pictures at HAAS Community Charter School in Pahoa today on their third stop of the tour.

Unfortunately Governor Abercrombie and Democratic Candidate Tulsi Gabbard were unable to make the event, however, U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono had this to say at the rally:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/snzw7S3b_Qs]

Wordless Wednesday – Lt. Governor Brian Schatz and Mayor Kenoi on the Big Island Today

This morning I noticed the following tweet from Lt. Governor Brian Schatz:

On Hawaii Island to meet with @MayorKenoi and talk clean energy. And pick up some aloha shirts, of course.

Mayor Kenoi just posted the following pictures on his facebook page:

"Meeting with Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and his senior advisor Dale Hahn this morning about clean energy on our island!"

Lt. Governor Schatz later tweeted, “Had a great meeting with Mayor Kenoi on clean energy. Big Island has enormous potential if we work together.”

"Had a good meeting with Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz about working to power our island with renewable sources of energy! Mahalo!"

Lt. Governor Brian Schatz – “Setting a New Course”

I have had the honor of serving as your Lieutenant Governor for the past year, and I am pleased to report that it has been a productive year for my office. We have memorialized our major activities and initiatives in an Annual Report which I would like to share with you today.

Click to read the report

The Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawai‘i has essentially two legal mandates in the operation of his or her office.  The first is to serve as the assistant chief executive, becoming Acting Governor upon the Governor’s absence from the state.  The second, as the legally designated Secretary of State, is to manage specific services for the public.

When this administration took office in December of 2010, Governor Abercrombie asked that I assume additional responsibilities in the form of special projects and initiatives assigned to me by the Governor.  An overarching principal in the selection of initiatives was that they help guide the State through its period of economic recovery.

In a phrase, our objective was to stretch the office so we could work collaboratively with both government agencies and the private sector to focus on key targets.

Our Annual Report covers service improvements made within our office, the Hawai‘i Fair Share Initiative, the significance of hosting APEC, disaster relief, China trade and travel activities and initial efforts to make Hawai‘i the home for the Obama Presidential Center.

The Governor’s vision to utilize my office to the fullest is derived from his continued commitment to make the best use of governmental resources.  We face challenges ahead.  But there is a lot to build on after this first year, and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Hawai‘i into the future.

Aloha,

Wordless Wednesday – Bringing the Big Island to APEC 2011

The Big Island of Hawaii hosted a reception at the Elks Club in Waikiki tonight to help kick off the APEC Summit here on Oahu.

Here is the extended version of Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi’s interview with KITV tonight:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/OvpYmgHAvtE]

Here are pictures from this evening:

Hawaii Flags Ordered to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Former Legislator and First Circuit Court Judge Katsugo Miho

In observance of the memory of former state Representative and First Circuit Judge Katsugo Miho, Governor Neil Abercrombie today ordered that all U.S. and Hawai’i flags at all State offices and agencies as well as the Hawai’i National Guard are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise until sunset, September 29, 2011.

Kats Miho's Story

Click to read Kats Miho's Story

“Kats Miho was a unique person in the best sense of the word.  He was always encouraging and supportive of the best in you – never pessimistic of Hawai’i or its future,” Governor Abercrombie said. “He genuinely believed in politics and in you as a person.  In my life personally and politically, he was someone I could always call on for advice, counsel, and support. In his public life, Kats Miho’s contribution to Hawai’i is old school.  In other words, he was always for Hawai’i, first, last, and always.”
Miho, born in 1922 in Kahului, Maui, served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. Miho received his law degree from George Washington University Law School and became a lawyer in private practice. In 1959, Miho was elected to the State of Hawai’i House of Representatives and served for five terms. He was appointed as a Family Court Judge where he served for eight years. Miho was also involved in the community, including the Japan Goodwill Sumo tournaments, Japan-Hawai’i High School Goodwill and Friendship baseball series, 442nd Veterans Club of Honolulu and the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation.

5th Annual China – U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit Held on Hawaii Island

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, welcomed tourism officials from across the U.S. and China attending the 5th Annual China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit on Hawai‘i Island today.

US-China Tourism Summit

US-China Tourism Summit

Members of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) and China National Tourism Association (CNTA), including more than 60 regional tourism directors from the U.S. and China, met at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows. The Summit, considered to be one of the top economic accomplishments by the two countries, is designed to build business through creating relationships and knowledge of both the Chinese and U.S. markets.

“The China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit is an important event to build on the growing relationship we have with China,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “Since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in 2007, opening group and leisure travel from China to the U.S., we have seen significant growth in this market, with visitor arrivals projected to reach 91,000 in 2011, up 37 percent over last year. This meeting also offers another opportunity to position Hawai‘i as a global meetings destination as our state prepares to host the 2011 APEC Leaders’ Week, and  builds on the growing interest of our state within the Asia- Pacific region.”

“We are very pleased and proud to host the 5th U.S.-China Travel Summit on the Island of Hawai‘i, and look forward to expanding our ties to tourism directors from both the Chinese and U.S. markets,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We offer a very special kind of experience for travelers, and are at the forefront of emerging areas of the visitor industry such as educational and agricultural tourism. We want to extend to our guests the warm hospitality and aloha that make our island home so special, and we welcome this opportunity to showcase our Island of Hawai`I for these key international travel industry leaders.”

Attendees were welcomed by Roger Dow, president and CEO of USTA, and Qiwei Shao,chairman of CNTA, to discuss and work toward enhancing tourism-related cooperation between the two countries.

Representing Hawai‘i was McCartney and Lt. Governor Brian Schatz, who both addressed the participants. Other speakers included Dr. Rachel JC Chen, Ph.D, Center for Sustainable Business and Tourism, University of Tennessee; Dr. Dai Bin, Ph.D, chairman, China Tourism Academy; Mike Lieberman, president and CEO, Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau; Gary Sain, president and CEO, Visit Orlando; Leigh Von Der Esch, managing director, Utah Office of Tourism; She Quingwen, director general, Tian Jin Tourism Administration; Chen Jianjun, director general, Guang Xi Tourism Administration; and Hao Kang Li, director general, Si Chuan Tourism Administration.

“This event has served as a bridge between the tour and travel industries in both  countries,” said Bruce Bommarito, senior international consulting partner of the USTA. “It also provides an opportunity to meet and build connections with relevant decision makers from China, a rapidly growing market, in the tourism industry.”

Established in 1998, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism agency, is responsible for strategically managing tourism to optimize benefits for Hawai‘i that integrates the interest of visitors, the community and visitor industry. Tourism is our state’s leading economic driver and largest employer and the HTA continually works to ensure its sustainability well into the future.

For more information on the HTA, please visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@HawaiiHTA).