WASHINGTON – The members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation – Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and Reps. Mark Takai and Tulsi Gabbard – each hosted meetings with Maui County councilmembers during the National Association of Counties Legislative Conferencelast week, Council Chair Mike White said today.

“I want to thank our congressional delegation for meeting with us,” White said. “We were reminded about their strong commitment to Hawaii and how legislation on the federal level would impact matters closest to the people at the county level.”

Other representatives from the Hawaii State Association of Counties – composed of councilmembers throughout the state – were also present at the meetings to lobby for various issues, including continued support for transportation programs funded by the federal government.

Maui County Councilmember Riki Hokama, who serves as the president of NACo, made it a priority to support America’s transportation and infrastructure initiatives for the counties. Hokama noted county governments are responsible for more than 45 percent of all public roads nationwide.

See: County leaders meet in Hawaii; discuss America’s transportation infrastructure

In Hawaii, funding for bridges and highways has decreased by 41 percent. NACo has been urging Congress to pass a multiyear surface transportation authorization bill that provides long-term certainty and supports county priorities.

“We are aware and would love to collaborate with the local government,” Schatz told the county officials. “We’ll either help you or give you the fast ‘no’ – not give you the runaround.”

Hirono also expressed her support and listened to challenges each county reported on. Gabbard and Takai provided information about existing and proposed transportation projects.

At the conference’s opening session, Vice President Joe Biden said counties are the “least appreciated form of government in all the United States of America,” as reported by Civil Beat.

 


 

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We have been following activities in Washington D.C. during the conference. Here are some highlights:

1. 30-year outlook on the nation’s infrastructure
Senior Policy Advisor Vincent White of the U.S. Department of Transportation shared trends that are likely to shape the needs of America’s transportation system over the next three decades, in a campaign titled “Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices.”

 

2. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard honored
A former Honolulu City Councilmember, , Gabbard was presented with NACo’s “County Alumni” award by White, Hokama and Maui County Council Presiding Officer Pro Tempore Michael P. Victorino.

 

3. Victorino at the White House
As a member of NACo’s Rural Action Caucus Committee, Victorino is working to find solutions to many critical issues for rural communities. Some federal legislative priorities for the caucus include comprehensive immigration reform, health and substance abuse programs and supporting the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds.

In photo, Victorino is at the top-right corner of the table.

 

4. Why federal policies matter to county government
Did you know there are 3,069 county governments in the United States and a Maui County councilmember is the president of the National Association of Counties?

 

5. Councilmember Riki Hokama at work

6. More PHOTOS from the Maui County delegates

News about the conference is also available at NACo.org.

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