Video above shows a portion of the July 2, 2014 U.S. Senate candidate forum held at Sangha Hall in Hilo, Hawaii. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is challenging incumbent Senator Brian Schatz for the position.
Video by Tim Bryan, Forum Moderated by Sherry Bracken
HILO, Hawaii – Moderator Sherry Bracken asks what the candidates can do at the federal level for the Kona Airport, which no longer has an international customs facility.
First, Senator Brian Schatz had some news in regard to that issue:
Last week Thursday my committee had a hearing on these kinds of issues with my ranking member Tim Scott from South Carolina and I have very good news to announce to Big Island residents.
So, the issue basically is that every international flight; if it arrives full – according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority – is about one million dollars worth of visitor spending. $1 million dollars per flight. so we can get two per week in Kona, that’s $100 million dollars spent on the Big Island. The problem is we lack the physical capacity, we lack the facilities, and we lack the staffing.
So, the solution is either we staff up and build the infrastructure, or we can do pre-clearance on the Japan side. Customs and Border Patrol said on-the-record at my committee, at my behest, that they are now moving through the process – they’re the beginning the process – but they’ve announced that they are actually pursuing negotiations on the Japan side.
So here’s how this would work: if we can get pre-clearance – and they’ve told us they want to do this now, they just told us on Thursday – then what will happen is we won’t need to build that infrastructure on the Kona-side. They will get pre-cleared, they will actually do customs in Narita, or Tokyo or Haneda or wherever it may be. And when they arrive it’ll be like a domestic flight they will get off the plane they will grab their bag and they will start spending money. So, we made progress on this last week are and I’m pleased to announce it tonight. ”Sen. Brian Schatz – July 2, 2014
.. If the Senate is passing out a bill like that I will of course advocate for it, but (Japan) is only one country that is a country that’s proven itself to be our ally and it look how long it’s taken us in the United States Congress to do
different kinds of visas for different, other countries.
Now, what we really do have there is an infrastructure issue. And in order to really address that – whether it’s customs or whatever… it is infrastructure – we need to have the ability to partner with the state of Hawaii, and the state of Hawaii Airports Division is going to have to kick-in. Truly commit to Kona being the International Airport that it is and build the appropriate facilities.”Rep. Colleen Hanabusa – July 2, 2014
Hanabusa also invoked the leadership style of the late Senator Daniel K Inouye in her answer.
Remember what Senator Inouye was so good at. Senator Inouye knew how to relate different things. He never talked about tourism in isolation. He never talked about defense in isolation. He never talked about anything in isolation. He always step back and saw a broader picture and understood then how can we link one to the other to get to where we wanna go. That’s the kind of leadership you gonna need.”Rep. Colleen Hanabusa – July 2, 2014
SPECIAL VIDEO SECTION: Schatz vs. Hanabusa (July 2, 2014)
2. Social Security
4. Kona Airport Customs
5. Fish & Wildlife Designations
6. Lending Restrictions
7. Native Hawaiian Education
8. Jones Act
9. Healthcare and Medicare
10. Pohakuloa Training Area, Saddle Road
11. Hawaii’s High Energy Rates
The event was sponsored by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, Hawaii Island REALTORS®, Hawaii Island Contractors’ Association, Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association and the Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. It was open to the community free of charge.