Categorized | Government, News

Updates from Sen. Schatz (Feb. 26-March 10)


The Senate Commerce Committee has voted to advance the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2015, H.R. 34.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) offered an amendment, adopted with bipartisan support, which would improve tsunami research by including key historical data and strengthen preparedness programs in coastal communities.

“As an island state with over 700 miles of coastline, a reliable tsunami warning system is critical to protecting our communities. We must do all that we can to be better prepared for an event that affords only minutes or hours for people to respond,” said Schatz. “My legislation will strengthen our tsunami detection, forecast, warning, research, and mitigation program to better protect Hawaii’s communities and save lives.”

The Schatz amendment made the following key improvements:

* Adds language to cover research, forecasting, and preparedness based on data from the geological record to assess tsunami threats—like the mega-tsunami that scientists believe struck Kauai about 500 years ago from the Aleutian Islands to the north.

Major tsunami events are infrequent enough that relying on modern records alone could easily overlook past tsunami threats revealed in the geological record. Having a thorough understanding of the full range of tsunami threats a community faces is critical for resilience planning.

* Authorizes NOAA to put tsunami sensors onto commercial and federal telecommunications cables as a cost-effective way to improve the tsunami detection network.

The existing network of tsunami buoys provides an essential first line of defense to detect and forecast tsunami, but their scope is limited by the costs of deployment and maintenance. In order to create a more robust system with limited resources, the amendment encourages NOAA to explore how tsunami detection and research sensors could be deployed along with telecommunications cables.

* Authorizes studies on how tsunami currents might affect the stability of clustered high-rise buildings, such as Hawaii’s iconic Waikiki skyline.

Evacuating from the lower floors of a building to its upper floors is considered to be not only viable, but the best practice when a tsunami is only minutes away. Just as the high density of tall buildings in a typical downtown district can create a canyon effect to amplify the force of winds, understanding their effect on strength and current of flood water may help to ensure the viability of evacuating to the upper floors of a building.

* Authorizes public-private partnerships for resilience, so that communities can form 501(c)(3) non-profits to accept non-governmental dollars to support tsunami resilience.

More and more communities understand the necessity of resilience planning at the whole-community scale, but the structure of federal government is not always nimble enough to adapt to support local needs.

The amendment language authorizes public-private partnerships to address coastal resilience, together with the formation of 501(c)(3) foundations in order to accept and use non-federal funding to address tsunami preparedness.



U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, issued the following statement following the Federal Communications Commission vote to adopt open internet rules:

“I congratulate Chairman Wheeler and the FCC on a deliberative process which has led to the adoption of open Internet rules tailored for the 21st century. While I do not yet know all the details of the FCC’s proposal, it is clear that they contain three essential elements: no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. These critical elements will ensure a level playing field so that a free and open Internet continues to thrive in the future. I am pleased the FCC has voted to enshrine these principles into formal protections.

“I will continue to review the details of the rules as they are made available. If we can find bipartisan consensus that legislation is still necessary to codify robust open Internet rules, I will work with the FCC and my colleagues on the Commerce Committee to ensure that any legislation protects the FCC’s flexible and forward looking authority to prevent future forms of discrimination that could threaten Internet openness.”



U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) released the following statement after U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced she would not seek reelection:

“During her career in Congress, Sen. Barbara Mikulski has been one of the most accomplished legislators: passionate about policy, always working to help others, and never backing down from a challenge. From demanding equal rights for women to protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, Sen. Mikulski has made a real difference for all Americans.

“As the longest serving woman in the Senate and the first woman to be Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barbara has inspired so many young women and girls across the country. Her efforts to encourage more women to seek a career in public service have made the Senate and our country a better place.

“It has been a great honor to work with her on the Appropriations Committee. I look forward to continue working with Vice Chairwoman Mikulski during the next two years and wish her all the best as she ends a remarkable career in the Senate.”



U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) released the following statement honoring the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march on March 7, 1965, also known as “Bloody Sunday”:

“Today is about remembering those brave marchers who on “Bloody Sunday” 50 years ago faced deep prejudice and perilous danger for the sake of a cornerstone of freedom – the right to vote – without which there is no democracy. Beyond remembering, we recognize that the trail they blazed in principle and fortitude is yet incomplete and calls to us for its completion. Let us honor their memory by rededicating ourselves to equal voting rights for all, defeating voter suppression wherever it festers, and ensuring that freedom’s ring reaches everyone in America.”



President Barack Obama nominated Patricia M. Loui of Honolulu to serve a second term on the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Loui has been a member of the board since 2011.

“Pat Loui has done an outstanding job as a member of the board of the Export-Import Bank, and deservedly is being nominated to serve another term by President Obama,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “Since joining the board, Pat has drawn from her unique experience as a leader in government and business in Hawaii to help grow American exports and our economy. I look forward to supporting her nomination.”

Loui founded OmniTrak Group Inc. in 1984, where she consulted on market expansion strategies in Asia. She served as President and CEO on OmniTrak from 1984 to 2010 and Chair from 2010 to 2011.

Prior to this, Loui was Vice President and Director of Market Planning and Development at the Bank of Hawaii. Loui served as a development planner and training officer for the United Nations Development Programme.

She has also served on the Board of Directors of The East-West Center Association, University of Hawaii Foundation, and the Kapiolani Hospital Foundation.

Loui received a B.S. from Northwestern University and an M.S. from the University of Hawaii.

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