State Holds First Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission Meeting

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in partnership with the State Office of Planning, will be holding the first-ever Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission (Climate Commission) meeting on October 11 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort, Coral Ballrooms 1 & 2 from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM.

On June 6, 2017, Governor David Ige signed Act 32 Session Laws of Hawai‘i, 2017, making Hawai‘i the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris Climate Accord.  The Paris agreement was signed by 195 nations on November 4, 2016, and is the largest, concerted global effort to combat climate change to date.

Unprecedented warming of the atmosphere due to greenhouse gas emissions poses a significant threat to the people of our State.  Suzanne Case, Co-chair of the Climate Commission said, “Hawaii and our Pacific island neighbors contribute a proportionately small amount to global warming, but will experience disproportionate significant effects due to sea level rise, drought, increased storminess, and ecological changes in our marine and terrestrial environments.   The Climate Commission will work with all stakeholders to address these challenges by systematically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our resiliency to its serious impacts, utilizing the principles and contributing to the goals set by the Paris agreement.”

It is anticipated that the new Climate Commission will provide direction, facilitation, coordination and planning among state and county agencies, federal agencies, and other partners about climate change mitigation (reduction of greenhouse gases) and climate change resiliency strategies. These include, but are not limited to, sea level rise adaptation, water and agricultural security, and natural resource stewardship.  The Climate Commission will be placed under DLNR for administrative purposes and is headed jointly by the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Director of the State Office of Planning, or their designees.

This first meeting will give Commission members a status update of the State Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report that is due to the State Legislature at the end of the year. It includes an open discussion for the setting of the Climate Commission’s priorities.  Governor David Ige will make an appearance.

The meeting is open to everyone. Anyone with special needs requiring accommodations or assistance, is asked to please contact the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands at least four days prior to the public hearing.  For more information contact the OCCL at (808) 587-0377 or visit http://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/

Hawaii to Challenge Travel Ban 3.0

Today Hawaii filed supplemental briefing with the United States Supreme Court regarding the Hawaii v. Trump litigation. Shortly after filing that supplemental briefing, Hawaii notified the U.S. Supreme Court that it intends to seek leave from the Hawaii federal district court to file an amended complaint challenging the lawfulness of the third travel ban.

Click to read full letter

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Hawaii fought the first and second travel bans because they were illegal and unconstitutional efforts to implement the President’s Muslim ban. Unfortunately, the third travel ban is more of the same. This new ban still discriminates on the basis of nationality, it still exceeds the President’s legal authority, and it still seeks to implement his Muslim ban. Simply adding an obvious target like North Korea to the list and banning travel by some government officials from Venezuela does nothing to disguise this. And – unlike the first two versions – Travel Ban 3.0 has no end date.”

Hawaii’s supplemental brief filed with the Supreme Court and its letter to the Supreme Court clerk are both attached.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Fights to Prevent the FCC From Dismantling Broadband Internet Standards

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) signed a bicameral letter to urge Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai not to relax Internet broadband standards for millions of Americans across the country which would most adversely affect rural, tribal, and low-income communities. The FCC announced in a Notice of Inquiry that it would consider lowering the standards of broadband Internet access speeds from 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload to 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, while also classifying a mobile Internet connection as a suitable replacement for home broadband.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“It is indisputable that high-speed broadband Internet access is essential to succeed in today’s economy, and that rural, tribal and low-income communities already face significant obstacles to accessing 21st century jobs, training programs, and educational opportunities.  According to the FCC’s own 2016 report, 39 percent of rural Americans and 41 percent of tribal communities lack access to acceptable internet speeds, creating significant obstacles that often inhibit them from doing things like promoting their business, communicating with their families, and accessing education tools.  I’ve heard this firsthand from constituents in my district who live in very rural communities.  Often, the only access to the Internet for kids in school was through a parent’s wireless hotspot signal.

“The FCC should be looking at how to expand and strengthen the infrastructure and high-speed Internet in America’s rural, tribal and low-income communities.  By opting instead to lower the bar and redefine what constitutes an acceptable Internet connection, the FCC continues on its current trend towards favoring corporate interests over American consumers.  Should the FCC’s proposals move forward, they will create more obstacles for working Americans by putting them behind the technology curve.

“I firmly support the expansion of high-speed Internet access to rural and tribal areas, which is why I cosponsored H. Con. Res. 63, which calls for the availability of high-speed Internet for all Americans.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Immigration Telephone Townhall Draws Nearly 4,000 Across Hawaiʻi

Nearly 4,000 Hawaiʻi residents participated in Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s immigration-focused “telephone townhall” on Wednesday afternoon. Local and national guests included:

  • Mateo Caballero, Legal Director of ACLU Hawaiʻi and a member of the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Coalition
  • Clare Hanusz, a Hawaiʻi immigration attorney and a member of the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Coalition and the Hawaiʻi Coalition for Immigrant Rights
  • Shiu-Ming Cheer, Senior Staff Attorney & Field Coordinator at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

The congresswoman discussed the status of DACA and the need for Congress to urgently pass legislation that will provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients. She also talked about the United States’ broken and outdated immigration system and the need for reforms, family reunification for WWII Filipino veterans in Hawaiʻi, her work to restore access to federal healthcare for Compact of Free Association (COFA) migrants, expanding access to federal immigration services on the neighbor islands, and more. She and her guests also answered questions on education rights for DREAMers, fees for naturalization, qualifications to receive DACA, backlogs on citizenship applications, rules regarding re-entry for foreign-born relatives of U.S. military personnel, and more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “The majority of Americans can trace their history through their relatives and ancestors who, against all odds and great difficulties, found their way to and made a home here in the U.S. But while our family histories remind us of how far we have come, the heartbreak and suffering faced by millions of families across the country due to our broken immigration system demonstrates the need for real reforms. Today, the lives of hundreds of thousands of our neighbors and friends are on hold as they wait for U.S. leaders to take action on DACA. Congress must take action to pass legislation that will provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients, who are fearful they will be targeted and deported from the only home they’ve ever known. This telephone town hall was a great opportunity to engage with my constituents from every island across the state, answer their questions, and hear their concerns.  This is an issue that affects people in Hawaiʻi and all across the country in many unique and different ways. Rather than allowing the issue of immigration reform to divide us, let us work together in the spirit of aloha to bring about real, meaningful change.”

Background: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office provide service to hundreds of Hawaiʻi residents every year to get assistance from U.S federal agencies, including United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and others. Her office can assist constituents with passports, visas, immigration and naturalization applications, Social Security claims, veterans benefits, and much more. Constituent advocates are located in every county, and hold regular “casework staff office hours” to help residents with federal agency casework. For a list of upcoming staff office hours, click here. For information on how the congresswoman and staff can assist constituents, click here.

Hawaii Joins in Settling With Mylan Inc – Will Receive Over $700,000

Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that Hawaii has joined the United States, the District of Columbia, and all 49 other states in settling allegations against Mylan Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mylan Specialty L.P. (collectively “Mylan”). The settlement resolves allegations that Mylan knowingly underpaid rebates owed to the Medicaid program for the drugs EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. (“EpiPen”) dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. Mylan owns the exclusive rights to sell EpiPen in the United States and possesses legal title to the New Drug Codes (“NDCs”) for EpiPen.

Pursuant to a settlement Mylan entered with the United States in August, Mylan was to pay up to $465 million to the United States and the states, depending on the number of states that joined the settlement. As of Friday, September 29th, all fifty states and the District of Columbia had joined the settlement; as a result, the states will share $213,936,000 of the total settlement of $465 million. Hawaii’s share of the settlement is $742,679.02, which will be split between the Med-Quest program at the Department of Human Services as restitution and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at the Department of the Attorney General for its continued enforcement efforts.

The Medicaid Drug Rebate Statute was enacted by Congress in 1990 to keep costs down for Medicaid’s payment for outpatient drugs. The law requires participating drug makers and NDC holders such as Mylan to sign a rebate agreement with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That agreement is a precondition to drug makers getting Medicaid coverage for their drugs, and to pay quarterly rebates to state Medicaid programs for drugs dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. NDC holders must provide information to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) concerning their covered drugs. In particular, they must advise CMS regarding the classification of a covered drug as an “innovator” or “noninnovator” drug. This is because the amount of rebates owed varies depending on the drug’s classification. The amount of the rebate also depends on pricing information provided by the manufacturer. For drugs classified as “innovator” drugs, NDC holders must report their “Best Price,” or the lowest price for which it sold a covered drug in a particular quarter.

Specifically, this settlement resolves allegations that from July 29, 2010 to March 31, 2017, Mylan submitted false statements to CMS that incorrectly classified EpiPen as a “noninnovator multiple source” drug, as opposed to a “single source” or “innovator multiple source” drug. Mylan also did not report a Best Price to CMS for EpiPen, which it was required to do for all “single source” and “innovator multiple source” drugs. This meant Mylan submitted false statements to CMS and the States relating to EpiPen for Medicaid rebate purposes, and underpaid its EpiPen rebates to the State Medicaid Programs.

Hawaii Receives $427,000 in Federal Grants for Agriculture

Hawaii has awarded 11 projects to eligible non-profit and for-profit entities totaling more than $427,000 through the 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The federal program, funded by the Farm Bill, provides grants to state departments of agriculture to fund projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

Click for more information

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) submitted the application to the USDA in June 2017 and will be administering the program. The approved projects support activities for research and increasing production of specialty crops, including cacao, taro, mango, cucumber, banana, legumes and Christmas trees. The projects funded include farmer education and agricultural marketing programs. A list of the projects funded by the SCBGP is attached.

The USDA SCBGP has awarded more than $60.5 million nationwide for this coming fiscal year. The grant period runs from September 2017 to September 2020.

For more information on the USDA SCBGP, go to: https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp/awards

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Calls On Administration & Congress to Pass Aid Package for Puerto Rico Now

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor calling on the Trump administration & Congress to pass an aid package for Puerto Rico now in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard demanded that the administration immediately send all available resources to help with recovery efforts.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Right now 3.5 million Americans, our fellow citizens, are facing a humanitarian crisis. In Puerto Rico, the majority of people still lack basic electricity, clean drinking water and medicine — the basic necessities just to stay alive. What to speak of the basic resources they need to begin the great task of rebuilding their lives and their communities. It has been days since the hurricane passed over Puerto Rico, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

“The people of Puerto Rico are literally crying out for help. There are far too many, especially those in rural communities, who still have not been reached by those bringing aid. As a representative from the island state of Hawaii, I can only imagine their frustration and desperation. I urge the administration to dedicate all available resources for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and work with Congress to pass an emergency aid package to ensure that those delivering aid have what they need to help the people of Puerto Rico and save lives.”

Hawaii Department of Health Awarded $3.5 Million to Support Families Through Home Visiting Program

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has been awarded $3,510,137 in federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support the state’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. The funds will provide voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy, and to parents with young children up to kindergarten entry.

“Home visiting services help to ensure our keiki and their families have a healthier start,” said Matthew Shim, DOH Family Health Services Division Chief. “This federal funding will allow the state to continue to provide this important service to expecting mothers and families during a critical time in their child’s development.”

The MIECHV Program serves about 850 Hawaii families each year with more than 10,000 home visits conducted statewide annually. Families are screened for eligibility in birthing hospitals, or families may contact MIECHV contracted providers online at www.yourohana.org to determine their eligibility. Services assist mothers through pregnancy and post-delivery, providing support to mothers learning to breastfeed and care for their baby’s health and early development through no-cost home visiting educational supports. Parents receive counseling to acquire knowledge and understanding of child development milestones and positive parenting techniques. Assistance is also offered to help families to set goals for the future, continue their education, and find employment and child care solutions.

During federal fiscal year 2016, 93.9 percent of pregnant women enrolled in the program accessed prenatal care before the end of their second trimester. Prenatal care is essential for ensuring the safe birth of a healthy baby. Pregnant women enrolled in the program also reported breastfeeding their infants for an average of 24.6 weeks or for the first 6 months of life as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of the families enrolled in the program received counseling on the results of the child’s developmental screenings, and parents spent more time in adult education programs to move toward economic self-sufficiency by furthering their education.

“The MIECHV Program helps parents and caregivers connect with services and resources and improve the skills they need to support their families’ well-being and provide the best opportunities for their children,” said HRSA Associate Administrator for Maternal and Child Health Michael Lu, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. “In these voluntary programs, trained nurses, social workers, early childhood educators, or other trained professionals meet regularly with expectant parents or families with young children in their homes, building strong, positive relationships with families who want and need support.”

Administered by HRSA, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the MIECHV Program gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. Funded through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 through FY 2017, the MIECHV Program is also addressing HHS’ clinical priorities such as the opioid crisis, serious mental illness, and childhood obesity. Nationwide, $342 million in funding was awarded to 55 states, territories, and nonprofit organizations.

For more information on HRSA’s Home Visiting Program, visit http://mchb.hrsa.gov/programs/homevisiting.

For a list of all state and county awardees, visit https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/home-visiting/fy17-home-visiting-awards.

Hawaii Air National Guard Supports Hurricane Maria Relief Mission

A Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, heading to Puerto Rico, as part of the Hurricane Maria relief effort.    The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (17 Airmen in total) will initially stage at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from where they will transport relief supplies to Puerto Rico.

A Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, heading to Puerto Rico, as part of the Hurricane Maria relief effort. The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (18 Airmen in total) will initially stage at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from where they will transport relief supplies to Puerto Rico.
Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaii National Guard leadership saw off the flight crews and maintenance personnel at Hickam Field.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Lee Jackson)

Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaii National Guard leadership saw off the flight crews and maintenance personnel at Hickam Field.   “Puerto Rico is suffering through a disaster of epic proportions.  The people there lack electricity, food, water and fuel. The people of Hawaii will do everything we can to assist our fellow Americans while they work to recover from this horrible devastation”.

The C-17 crew has been tasked with flying first to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State, where they will pick up relief supplies and additional personnel before heading to Puerto Rico.   They anticipate flying multiple missions, possibly including some to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was hit by not only by Hurricane Maria but also by Hurricane Irma earlier in September.

The 204th Airlift Squadron is one of three flying units within the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, the largest and most complex wing in the entire Air National Guard.   The Guard is tasked with being ready for war or any other operational contingency overseas and well as disaster response here at home.

Hawaii Department of Health Deputy Director Receives National Award for Excellence in Public Health

Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Deputy Director Keith Y. Yamamoto has been selected by the national Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) as a 2017 recipient of the prestigious Noble J. Swearingen Award. Yamamoto was honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC on Sept. 20.

Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler and Deputy Director Keith Yamamoto confirmed by Senate on April 9, 2015

Each year, ASTHO recognizes individuals nationwide who demonstrate excellence in public health leadership and work tirelessly to protect and promote the public’s health. Yamamoto was selected for his service as a member of ASTHO’s Senior Deputies Committee in which he provided critical guidance and expertise on multiple state and territorial public health issues.

“Keith brings transformative leadership to the field of public health and embodies a genuine desire to improve the health of Hawaii’s residents,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “His accomplishments have made a difference in the lives of others and we are inspired by his commitment to lead with compassion, integrity and perseverance.”

Yamamoto said, “It was an honor and at the same time very humbling to be recognized, especially knowing that I work alongside colleagues who are equally committed to improving the health and well-being of the people of Hawaii,” he said.

A resident of Nuuanu, Yamamoto was appointed DOH deputy director in 2011. He oversees the department’s general administration which includes budget, fiscal, facilities management, human resources, information technology and compliance. He also oversees the District Health Offices of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai; the Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development; and the Office of Health Status Monitoring.

Prior to his appointment, Yamamoto served for six years as chief of the department’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division, where he was responsible for overseeing and managing a range of adult and adolescent substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment services statewide.

Yamamoto also previously served as program administrator for the Hawaii Department of Human Services’ Office of Youth Services and managed various school-based vocational education and career development programs for at-risk youth for the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Yamamoto earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of

Hawaii at Manoa and a bachelor’s in rehabilitation services from the University of Northern Colorado.

The Noble J. Swearingen Award was first bestowed in 1979 in recognition of public health administrators who have demonstrated excellence. ASTHO is a national nonprofit organization which helps state and U.S. territorial health agencies develop and implement essential programs and policies in public health priority areas.

Flags to be Lowered in Honor of Victims of Las Vegas Mass Shooting

At the direction of the President of the United States, Gov. David Ige has ordered that the United States flag and the Hawai‘i state flag will be flown at half-staff starting on Monday, October 2, 2017 at the State Capitol and upon all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard in the State of Hawai‘i. The flags will be flown at half-staff until sunset, October 6, 2017.

This action honors the victims of the tragedy in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I am shocked and terribly saddened by the news of an unbelievable act of mass murder in Las Vegas. We call it The Ninth Island because we have so many family and friends living there, and most of us have visited the city for entertainment or business purposes. Today, we grieve with those who have lost loved ones and pray for the injured,” said Gov. Ige.

Hawaii State Senator Rosalyn Baker Named Top Influencer in Aging

Next Avenue, public media’s first and only digital publication dedicated to covering issues for people 50 and older, has named State Senator Rosalyn Baker (Dist. 6 – South and West Maui) as one of the top 50 Influencers in Aging.

Senator Rosalyn Baker

Senator Baker was recognized for her advocacy in the area of caregiving by leading the effort to pass a bill that establishes the Kupuna Caregivers Program, the nation’s first benefit program to help an employed family caregiver stay in the workforce while ensuring the loved one has additional supports to age in place. The Kupuna Care and Caregivers programs are especially designed for families for whom assisted living facilities or nursing homes are too expensive. The bill was signed into law on July 6, 2017.

The third annual list of top 50 Influencers in Aging includes advocates, researchers, thought leaders, innovators, writer and experts at the forefront of changing how we age and think about aging.

“I’ve spent my political career advocating for those who are most vulnerable in our community, so I’m honored to be recognized for my work in an area that I’m passionate about – our seniors,” said Sen. Baker. “The Kupuna Caregivers Program is a team effort between government, community and the public, and acknowledges the critical need to help our State’s elderly maintain their dignity and quality of life in their golden years while ensuring family caregivers can stay in the workforce and not jeopardize their own retirement benefits.”

Individuals are honored from each of the five areas that Next Avenue covers: Health & Well-Being, Caregiving, Money & Security, Work & Purpose and Living & Learning.

“Next Avenue is proud to honor these 50 people who are transforming aging in a time when this work is especially crucial,” said Next Avenue Editorial & Content Director Shayla Stern. “More than 100 million Americans are over age 50 now, and as life expectancy increases, it is imperative that policies, housing, science, technology and culture all evolve to better serve our population. These honorees on our list of Influencers in Aging are on the leading edge of this revolution.”

For a complete list of honorees and further information about Next Avenue’s 2017 Influencers in Aging, please visit: nextavenue.org/influencers.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to Host Live Immigration Telephone Townhall with Hawaiʻi, National Experts

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) will host a live immigration-focused “telephone town hall” on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 4:00pm HST with local and national immigration experts from the ACLU Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Coalition, and National Immigration Law Center.

The call will provide an update on immigration issues including DACA and federal immigration reform, give constituents an overview of resources Rep. Gabbard’s office can help with including Social Security, immigration and naturalization applications, passports and visas, and more, and provide constituents an opportunity to ask questions related to immigration.

Please note: To protect each individual’s privacy, constituents living in Hawaiʻi’s Second Congressional District with questions regarding a personal claim or casework should contact Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s office directly at (808) 541-1986 or TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov.

How to participate:

  • To call in live at the time of the event, call 888-476-4187 at 4:00pm HST on Wednesday October 4 to be joined in to the call
  • To receive a pre-call reminder to join this event: Text “TULSI” to 828282, OR go to vekeo.com/reptulsigabbard and enter your name, phone number and email. Once you submit your information, you will receive a confirmation email. You must click “Verify” in the confirmation email in order to complete your registration

President Trump to Visit Asia and HAWAII

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hawaii from November 3-14, 2017. The President will participate in a series of bilateral, multilateral, and cultural engagements—including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit—demonstrating his continued commitment to the alliances and partnerships of the United States in the region.

The Trump International Hotel in Waikiki

President Trump will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America’s prosperity and security. He will also emphasize the importance of fair and reciprocal economic ties with America’s trade partners. The President’s engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. Census Bureau Statement on Asking Sexual Orientation Question On Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Survey

The U.S. Census Bureau continues to research and plan communications and outreach strategies to maximize response and participation in the 2020 Census. Similar to preparations for the 2010 Census, we will again conduct the Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators (CBAMS) Survey designed to better understand the mindsets related to census participation across demographics subgroups, including the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) population.

The question on sexual orientation remains a part of the initial set of proposed survey questions. Given the sample size of the CBAMS, the expected response rate, and the percentage of the U.S. population that is LGB, we would expect the survey to yield a sufficient amount of data upon which to make statistical inferences.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Presented with IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Government

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) yesterday received the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Salutes Award for Leadership in Government for her dedication to serving and empowering veterans. The award was presented at the first annual IAVA Salutes event that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated leadership and courage while advocating on behalf of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Martha Raddatz of ABC News was recognized alongside Rep. Tulsi Gabbard with the IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, pictured with Allison Jaslow, Executive Director of IAVA; Martha Raddatz, ABC News; and Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of IAVA, received the IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Government on Wednesday evening.

“As we observed the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks earlier this month, I was once again reminded how that fateful day changed our country and our lives. During my deployment to Iraq where I served in a medical unit, I questioned whether leaders in Washington truly understood the cost of war, and if they ever thought about those who truly pay the price. One of the major motivations for me to serve in Congress came from my experiences being deployed, and wanting to be in a position to make critical decisions regarding when to go to war, and just as importantly, when not to go to war, and to ensure the promise our country made to our veterans is upheld and honored. I am humbled to receive the IAVA Salutes Award, and I will continue to do my best to honor the service and sacrifices of my brothers and sisters in arms and their families,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

“We were honored to have the opportunity to recognize Congresswoman Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and soldier in the National Guard. Congresswoman Gabbard consistently has the backs of IAVA members through her work in Congress, and is a steadfast advocate for national defense issues. Congresswoman Gabbard is an example of what our generation of veteran leaders can accomplish. She has been a critical leader in IAVA’s fight for increased recognition and services for women veterans, including serving as an original co-sponsor of the Deborah Sampson Act,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA.

Background:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard launched the bipartisan Congressional Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus in 2015 on the 12th Anniversary of the Iraq War. The caucus includes a bipartisan group of Members who have served in the military after 9/11, and who are dedicated to issues related to our newest generation of veterans.

Rep. Gabbard served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and she continues her service as a Major in the Army National Guard. Her 2005 deployment was a 12-month tour at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit as a specialist with a 29th Support Battalion medical company. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the end of this tour.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes for FAA Extension and Immediate Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted for H.R.3823, legislation that temporarily reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, provides tax relief to those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, extends critical health care provisions, and modernizes aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Emergency tax relief for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands comes after Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined colleagues in delivering a letter to President Trump, urging the administration to immediately mobilize additional Department of Defense (DOD) resources for Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island recovery efforts.

“While this bill failed to extend key healthcare and education programs that will be expiring soon, it included critical measures that will ensure the FAA reauthorization is extended, stabilizes the National Flood Insurance Program, extends programs for Teaching Health Centers, strengthens Medicare, and protects diabetes treatment programs for Native Americans.

“Most critically, this bill provides tax relief to Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who saw their lives and livelihoods upended by Hurricane Maria, as well as those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Congress and the Administration must take further action to ensure those impacted get the relief and assistance they so desperately need,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Click to read full letter

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Bipartisan Coalition Reintroduce Native Hawaiian Housing Legislation

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in introducing the reauthorization of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA), which has empowered more than 1,400 low-income families in Hawaiʻi over the past two decades, along with native communities across the country. In addition to the introduction of the bill today in the House, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) has also introduced companion language in the U.S. Senate.

“Reauthorizing NAHASDA is critical to fulfill our nation’s trust responsibility to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Safe, secure, and affordable housing is essential to the wellbeing of our country’s native people which leads to better health, education, and economic outcomes that strengthen native communities,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “In Hawaiʻi, almost 30 percent of the homeless population is comprised of Native Hawaiiansa statistic that is far too high in the most prosperous country in the world. Reauthorizing NAHASDA provides needed financial support to native communities in Hawaiʻi and across the country. We must continue to fight for the programs that will improve housing and wellness resources for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities throughout the country.”

Background: NAHASDA was first established in 1996 with the consolidation of several separate assistance programs, provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, into a single block grant program. In 2000, NAHASDA was amended to add Title VIII – Housing Assistance for Native Hawaiians. The amendment adds similar programs for Native Hawaiians who reside on Hawaiian Home Lands to the NAHASDA legislation.

In Hawaiʻi, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) is the sole recipient of the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant as provided for by the law. DHHL administers 203,000 acres of trust land; 99% of those lands are located in Hawai‘i’s Second Congressional District: from the southernmost tip of Hawai‘i Island to Kauaʻi and Niʻihau; it includes every Hawaiian Island, but excludes urban Honolulu.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Visits Armenia on Congressional Delegation to Enhance U.S.-Armenian Economic, Humanitarian, and Security Ties

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) last week traveled to Armenia on an official, bipartisan diplomatic trip as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, and as a member of the Congressional Armenian Caucus.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, along with Armenian Assembly Co-Chair, Anthony Barsamian; Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., and Artsakh National Assembly Chairman, Ashot Ghoulian visited the “We Are Our Mountains” monument north of the capital city of Artsakh, Stepanakert.

In Armenia, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met with President Sargsyan, Prime Minister Karapetyan, distinguished members of the Ministry, representatives from Armenia’s National Assembly, Americans of Armenian ancestry, and a wide range of business, academic, and community leaders to discuss areas of mutual interest to strengthen regional and national security efforts, enhance humanitarian assistance for refugees, build economic opportunities, learn about the ongoing conflict and struggle of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, and to pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard along with Reps. Frank Pallone, Jackie Speier, Anna Eshoo, and David Valadao met with President of Artsakh Republic, Bako Sahakyan to discuss a diplomatic, peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Last year, Hawaii’s State Legislature passed a resolution recognizing the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh and previously, along with 46 other states, passed legislation formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide, and honoring its victims.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and other members of the bipartisan congressional delegation met with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, Ara Babloyan and other heads of Standing Committees to further cooperation and understanding between the governments of Armenia and the United States.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“I traveled to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh with a bipartisan group of congressional colleagues to hear and see firsthand the challenges and opportunities that exist within Armenia and the region, and identify areas of mutual interest and cooperation that will strengthen the security, economic, and cultural relationships that bind our two countries. Focusing on the priorities of a peaceful, sustainable, and secure region remains the key to deepening the American-Armenian relationship.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, along with other members of the congressional delegation, met with Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, His Holiness Karekin II to discuss the diplomatic resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“The resilience and courage I witnessed in the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh region who remain in an ongoing conflict over their independence, further demonstrates our shared values of freedom, democracy, and self-determination. We must support a diplomatic resolution to this ongoing conflict, such as what has been proposed by the Minsk Group (made up of the United States, France, and Russia), to allow for the people of  Nagorno-Karabakh to exercise their freedom and independence.

“One major issue that continues to be unresolved, is global recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide. It is unconscionable that the United States government still has not formally recognized and condemned the Armenian genocide.  I stand with Armenians in America and around the world in condemning the Armenian Genocide, and I call on my colleagues to adopt House Resolution 220 so we never forget, or repeat, the suffering endured by the Armenian people. 

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and colleagues met with the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan to hear firsthand about the challenges and opportunities of Armenia, and to identify areas of mutual interest and cooperation between Armenia and the United States.

“While there is much progress to be made within Armenia, the resilience of the Armenian people, their rich culture, values, and the depth of economic and academic investment I witnessed during my trip leaves me hopeful for the future of Armenia and the region.”

Hawaii Receives $2.7 Million to Improve Veterans Cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai

On Friday Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that the State of Hawaii will receive over $2.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration to improve veterans’ cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai.

“Our veterans’ cemeteries honor the commitment we’ve made to our service members and their eligible loved ones at the end of their lives,” said Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “Hawaii’s veterans have long advocated for needed repairs and improvements at cemeteries across the state, and the funding announced today meaningfully recognizes the sacrifice Hawaii veterans made for their country.”

“We’re very appreciative of the support for these important cemetery improvement projects from our Congressional and State Leaders and especially from the VA’s National Cemetery Administration,” said Ronald Han, Director of the Hawaii Office of Veterans’ Services. “These significant enhancements will continue to improve the quality of our cemeteries for those Veterans and their eligible loved ones who served a grateful nation.”

As part of the grant funding, Maui Veteran Cemetery will receive $1.3 million to support the raising, realigning, and cleaning of 1,225 headstones, as well as the restoration of 25,600 square feet of turf.

East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery II-Hilo will receive $870,000 for the construction of a new maintenance building, entry gate with fencing, a flag assembly area, landscape, and supporting infrastructure.

Lanai Veterans Cemetery will also receive $582,000 for the construction of a new water system, as assembly area, 800 linear feet of fence, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure.

Collectively, the projects will serve 54,300 veterans and their families.