By Wendy Osher
US Senator Mazie Hirono is on Maui today, where she plans to attend a function tonight honoring the late US Senator Daniel Inouye.
Upon her arrival, Senator Hirono stopped by for an in-studio interview, providing a legislative update of highlights happening for Hawaiʻi, and some special projects on tap for Maui.
Items of interest include funding for transportation and veterans’ services on Maui, as well as immigration reform for the state.
Hawaiʻi delegates recently announced the receipt of $800,000 in federal funds for the county’s ADA compliant Bus Stop Shelter and Signage Program. The funding will be used for the construction of shelters with site improvements at various locations on the island of Maui.
“I think that’s really important for an island where the bus ridership is probably the fastest growing in the entire state,” said Senator Hirono, who serves on the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Fellow Hawaiʻi leaders say the project was selected on a competitive basis from the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus Livability Initiative.
Senator Hirono also announced support for a one-stop veterans’ health center on Maui saying some $10 million in funding is being considered for the project.
“The fact of the matter is that these one-stop centers that deal with both the physical as well as some of the other kinds of issues that our veterans are facing,” said Hirono who sits on both the Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees.
Hirono stressed the importance of Hawaiʻi, being in the middle of the Pacific, and the importance of the military to the state economy.
“It happens that the Department of Defense Secretary Hagel will be in town tomorrow, and I will be visiting with him, and talking story, and of course pointing out how important it is to keep that commitment to a strong military with Hawaiʻi as a central part of that effort,” said Senator Hirono.
In discussion of immigration reform, Senator Hirono said, “We have a broken system.” As a member of the Judiciary Committee, the senator said she was glad she was able to participate in reform efforts.
“A number of the amendments that were put into that bill in the committee, directly impacts Hawaiʻi,” she said noting that one amendment would enable Filipino WWII veterans to reunite with their children.
“Another amendment that would help our economy is to enable Hong Kong to become eligible for [the Visa Waiver Program]. When that happens, should they become a visa waived entity, we’ll see a lot more visitors from Hong Kong, and that will certainly help our economy, and create jobs,” said Senator Hirono.
“We have our friends from Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands who come to our state. We provide education and health care for them. An amendment that would enable these migrants to be able to qualify for Medicaid would mean some $20-to 30-million dollars in reimbursements for Hawaiʻi. That will really help our state,” said Senator Hirono.
***Additional discussion with US Senator Hirono is available by clicking on the video link provided above.