The State Senate legislates on several important areas that affect the daily lives of Hawai’i residents. Here are some of the issues I feel most passionate about and believe I could offer fresh ideas and solutions for.
A Resilient Local Economy
A sustainable Hawai’i for me includes not only thinking about climate change and preserving natural resources, but also about how to foster a diverse local economy that is resilient to external shocks and global changes. The COVID-19 health crisis has reinforced why we cannot be overly reliant on the tourism industry to employ our people.
Drastically improve our state’s cost of living by working with the federal government to reform the Jones Act.
Strengthen our local agriculture farmers and businesses by easing the costs to transport local products to local consumers.
Foster the conditions to bring industries and businesses that create high-paying jobs to stop the brain drain in our state. A quality over quantity approach.
Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in violent crime. This is not the Hawai’i we know or want, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that this trend reverses itself. I intend to work closely with our law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and our judiciary because we can’t afford to have our people on the frontlines of law and order be left out of the law-making process.
Give our law enforcement professionals the ability to do their jobs properly by closing loopholes and inconsistencies in our laws.
Fix our local prisons so that they can become places of rehabilitation where offenders and DPS employees can have a safe environment to live, work, and serve their time. We need to stop sending our prisoners to for-profit prisons in the mainland where they risk becoming indoctrinated into an endless cycle of crime.
Increase surveillance and law enforcement on public lands so that they do not become hubs for criminal activity.
COVID-19 AND SMALL BUSINESSES
The current global pandemic is an unprecedented event that threatens the health of our citizens and visitors and has the potential to be ruinous to our state economy. There is no rule book here - none of our current political leaders have dealt with anything like this before. It is crucial that our current and future leaders approach this crisis with new, progressive thinking and a dedicated work ethic.
Support locally-owned businesses by all means necessary. All studies show that Hawai'i's small businesses, including restaurants, are at most at risk of failing right now. This upsets me greatly because District 10 is one of the most vibrant small business hubs of our state.
Establish clear criteria to reopen our small businesses responsibly, while maintaining physical distancing measures. Each day our government waits to act, our community goes into more debt and hardship. The time to safely open up businesses is now, not later.
We all know that the availability of affordable housing and chronic homelessness are some of our state’s most pressing challenges. And despite promises by some of our current elected officials, progress is far too slow. I am approaching this problem recognizing two facts: 1) government does not build housing and 2) our population has grown over the decades and we have not kept up with that demand.
Lower the costs for housing developments that are passed to occupants by identifying redundancies in the state process for permits and EIS’ and enabling better communication between state and local county permitting departments.
Create a simplified regulatory process that doesn’t force residents or developers to wait for years just so they can build homes.
Listen to the contractors, developers, and citizens whose actual job is to build housing. I will rely on them to better understand what can be done.
The education and development of our keiki and young people is one of the greatest responsibilities of our government.
Increase salaries for our teachers so that we can attract and retain the best education professionals who are doing the hands-on work.
Refit and renovate our aging school facilities so that our students can have comfortable, productive, and safe environments to learn in. Consider volunteering programs, non-profit partnership, private sponsorships, and/or traditional public funding as potential means.
Responsible Budget and Spending
Similar to many other states around the country, the measures to contain COVID-19 in Hawai’i have resulted in unprecedented levels of unemployment and business impacts. These difficulties will undoubtedly lead to a large budget deficit in lost state tax revenues. The time is more important than ever to get Hawai’i’s budget and spending on the right track, with a long-term vision guiding our decision-making.