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Kamaka N. Nikolao

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SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO ABOLISH FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY LAW

 

Washington, DC – This morning, Senators Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI) introduced legislation that would repeal many of the United States’ Death Penalty laws for federal crimes. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Gabriel Gonzalez (D-IL), Osiris Storm (D-NY) and Amy Salazar (D-CT). The bill which Senator Nikolao called a “milestone in criminal justice reform,” would drastically change the way the federal government handles crimes and offenses against the United States when pertaining to the Death Penalty.

 

In  statement Senator Gonzalez stated, "I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ as our judge and redeemer, too many Christians in today’s world will preach the values of Jesus Christ but they forget New Testament law supersedes Old Testament law and far too many Christians still support the death penalty when Jesus famously said 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone.'"

 

As of 2016, nineteen states have abolished the Death Penalty. Amount them are the states of Hawaii (1957), New York (2007), Illinois (2011) and Connecticut (2012). While many other states have the death penalty, many state governors have halted executions, or many states have not sought the death penalty for many years. While this law does not change state laws, it puts an end to federal government executions.

 

"An eye for an eye is not the answer to preventing crime, especially non-violent crimes,” stated Senator Storm. “With the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act, we will open up the conversation of enacting a justice system that is rehabilitative and not reactive.”

 

The Death Penalty on the federal level has not been in practice since 2003, however, this could change because the law is still on the books. “Stopping the death penalty in my view would amount to proclaiming at top of our lungs that society and the state are not absolute values,” said Salazar. “It would amount to saying that there are some things even the state may not do.”

 

 

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NILOLAO DEFENDS NATIVE HAWAI'IANS HOUSING LEGISLATION

 

Washington, DC – Today Senate Republicans tried to stop legislation that would reauthorize housing funds for Native Hawai'ians in many statements that called the legislation "pork barrel" spending. In response, Senator Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI) defended the legislation reminding senators of the tragedy of the indigenous people of the islands. In his statement, he reiterates the apology issued by the United States in 1993 and criticized the Senate Republicans for failing to act upon supporting the Natives of the islands. He also mentioned the disrespect by Senators who also represent many mainland indigenous tribes by not supporting this bill. The Senator's full statement can be read here:

 

Aloha Mr. President,

 

Aloha to my fellow colleagues in the Senate. I rise today to defend my bill and to tank the Senate Majority Leader and President Pro-Tempore and the many here in the Senate who have helped to support and/or advance this important piece of legislation for the Natives who lived on the islands of Hawai'i before the conquest of the United States and the illegal overthrow of our kingdom and queen, Her Majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani. Since the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and the American acquisition of our land. Native Hawai'ians have been moved and displaced off of our land which has been sacred and a sentimental part to our history and our ancestors.

 

Since statehood, the housing market and many corporations that built up cities like Honolulu across the islands, the prices have been ridiculous for many people who hold strong roots across all parts of our beautiful state. I take offense to the comments of the Senator from South Carolina who criticized our state's government who has tried so hard to make sure that my fellow native Hawai'ians are not forgotten. I also take great offense that the Republicans say that this issue is not important but they fail to realize that when you come into someone's home you must respect it. Mr. President, from my point of view and many other Native Hawai'ians and many Indigenous people across the mainland have seen that their home - the land - is not being and has not been respected. I recognize that this Congress has issued an apology to many people who are indigenous to all the land inhabited by the US Government, but as my mother taught me, actions speak louder than words. (Holds Up a copy of US Public Law 103-150) Mr. President this apology is well taken and I honor the efforts of my predecessor Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka. But to pass this revolution and do not heal the wounds of the effects of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i is just a piece of paper to me and the people who are native of the land.

 

I am very disappointed by the Senate Republicans who are using politics over helping the most vulnerable in our society and that is the Native Hawai'ians and Native of the mainland. I say shame to them and especially to the Senator from Wyoming and the Senator of New Mexico whos state's flag bears the symbol of the Zia people for the sun.  

 

This legislation may only affect the Native Hawai'ian people but this is the start for equal rights for all indigenous people. From the Chayanne to the Senaca Nations and to all in between and across this land. 

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NIKOLAO SPONSORS BILL WITH ZAMORA FOR NATIVE HOUSING

 

Washington, DC – This week Senators Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI) and Diego Zamora (R-NM) introduced legislation that would expand housing for indigenous peoples across the United States, including reauthorization of the Native Hawaiian Homeownership Act. In a statement, Senator Nikolao stated that "working together to make legislation more inclusive and much more effective is how government works." He continued to say that he is pleased that Senator Zamora reached out to him to include native Hawai'ians in this bill. "In many cases, Natives of our islands are forgotten because many think of the indigenous people on the mainland when we hear 'indigenous people'."

 

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SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO REFORM 1920 JONES ACT

 

Washington, DC – This morning Senators Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI) and Osiris Storm (D-NY) introduced the Open America's Waters Act of 2017, which would repeal the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (also known as the Jones Act) and would lift restrictions on Coast-wide trading. The Jones Act was passed in 1920 which was over 30 years before the Statehood of Hawaii. Because of the Jones Act much of the food, produce and goods that are imported to Hawaii is much more expensive and has overtime increased the state's cost of living for many who reside on the islands. If the US Government repeals the Jones Act, Hawai'i and many other places like Guam and Puerto Rico could see a large reduction in prices. 

 

"For a long time basic food and products like milk have been very pricey because of this importation law," stated Senator Nikolao, "If we repeal this it would not only reduce prices but it would also lift restrictions on aid from foreign nations and counties who send help to Hawai'i and many of the territories after devastating tropical storms and hurricanes. "Now is the time to repeal this legislation so that the people of Hawai'i and the American territories can afford to stay in their homes and afford the food they consume."

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Leech Lake Tribal College Class of 2016

 

Washington, DC – Today Senator Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI) introduced legislation that would advance funding and educational opportunities at minority serving institutions (MSI) and many historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) across the United States. The Minority Serving Institutions and HBCU Education Advancement Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to allow for MSIs of higher education, to concurrently receive grant funding for more than one program that provides financial services to native Alaskan and Hawaiian institutions, non-tribal colleges, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islanders along with Hispanic serving institutions. Also the bill would help with refinancing HBCUs which have in the past few years have faced a financial crisis and funding issues. Along with Senator Nikolao, the bill was introduced along with Senators Osiris Storm (D-NY), Dutch Savage (I-IL), Hillary Edwards (D-NY), Lewis Clayborne (D-OR) and David Burns (D-CA).

 

Upon passage this bill would provide much needed financial relief to these institutions that have served numerous groups of Americans. “This would really help with preserving these historic institutions,” stated Senator Nikolao, “these schools contributions to American society should not be undermined and we must do all we can to help assist these educational institutions.”

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NIKOLAO DISCUSSES MINIMUM WAGE AND HURRICANE MURIEL

 

Honolulu, HI – Just this past week, the Hawai’i State Legislature took a step to increase the state’s minimum wage from $10.10 to $15.25 an hour. This issue arose from the state’s frustration on the lack of action on wage increases for workers across by Congress. This session, Senator Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI) co-sponsored legislation that would increase the minimum wage nationwide to $15 an hour. In a statement regarding his home state’s decision to push wage increases Senator Nikolao stated that “I strongly support Hawai’i and its efforts to raise the state’s minimum wage and have taken the steps in Congress to support this issue nationwide through co-sponsorship and advancement of legislation within the HELP Committee,” he stated. He also expressed that this would be a huge step in the right direction to providing “a more decent wage to workers across the state who struggle to survive due to our state's expensive cost of living.”

 

While also visiting home, Senator Nikolao spoke briefly of the news developing on Hurricane Muriel and the development of Tropical Storm Elizabeth. As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Senator Nikolao oversees legislation that is introduced dealing with emergency relief, health services after natural disasters and much more. When asked to comment on the two storms in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, Senator Nikolao stated that “we must support the states that will be affected by these storms, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” he said “I am monitoring the storms along with my staff and encourage the people who are in the path of the two storms to seek shelter and obey any orders by state and local government in terms of safety and evacuations.” He continued by saying that he would be happy to speak with elected officials and work with other members of Congress to make sure that in the aftermath citizens can recieve the adequate services and support they need.

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NIKOLAO REVERTS MINORITY LEADERS COMMENTS BACK AT GOP

 

Washington, DC – Senate Minority Leader John Saunders (R-TX) released a Statement stating that the Democratic Caucus is not working on behalf of the American People. In his statement, Minority Leader Saunders stated that the caucus has committed "a gross dereliction of duty." However, over the past few days and week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pension (HELP) has passed legislation and even debated legislation that Republicans co-sponsored without republicans showing up for hearing and votes.

 

"Senator Saunders should look at his caucus first before attacking the Democrats," stated Senator Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI), who is the current Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee. "He exaggerated that the Senate has 'grind to a halt' which I and the Democratic caucus in committee are passing legislation through committee without his caucus even present." Senator Nikolao as Chairman brought forth seven bills through the Committee and has even brought forth legislation introduced by the Republican Caucus and no Republicans, debated or expressed any objection to tabling these measures. "It is very sad that the Minority Leader is trying to score points against the Democratic Caucus who has shown more results this session," stated Nikolao, "It is embarrassing, however, to see half of the committee chairs empty when it is our job as Senators to show up for Committee." Senator Nikolao continued to state that the Minority Leader "should consider encouraging his caucus to show up to committee meetings, after all, he appointed these Senators to the Committee."

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SENATOR NIKOLAO INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO COMBATHARASSMENT FOR CONGRESSIONAL INTERNS

 

Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Whip Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI) introduced legislation that would extend protection in harassment and sexual assault to Congressional Interns. Currently, congressional interns do not have the same protection to paid and unpaid interns on Capitol Hill. Recently reports were published by the Wall Street Journal that an intern was harassed by a member of the House Democratic Leadership Staff. "This act is unacceptable and we must hold members of Congress, their staff and anyone who works in any capacity in these halls of the Capitol Complex Accountable for their actions." The bill would protect and empower all interns and include them in being able to freely file complaints and to allow them to feel comfortable in coming forward with inappropriate behavior in the workforce.

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HAWAI'I SENATOR OPPOSES AMENDMENT REQUIRING PHOTO ID CARDS FOR VOTING

 

 

Washington, DC – Senator Kamaka Nikolao (D-HI) spoke on the Senate Floor today in opposition to an amendment Proposed to a Federal Elections Commission Reform Bill that would require states to comply with asking for valid ID Cards when voters cast ballots in federal elections. In his remarks, Senator Nikolao condemned the Amendment supported by Minority Leader John Saunders (R-TX) and Senator Diego Zamora (R-NM). His full remarks can be read below:

 

Mr. President,

 

I feel as if we are back fifty years ago denying American people the right to vote simply because of the illusion of voter fraud. This amendment would overhaul our nation's voting policy by implementing a nationwide requirement for presentation of an Identification Card when submitting a ballot for federal elections. This amendment is nonsince and if a Senator claims that this combats voter fraud they are simply wrong and aren't seeing eye to eye with the facts about misidentification at the polling place. Mr. President, this amendment would greatly affect many elderly men and women, minorities and many poor Americans. In many jurisdictions, it can be costly just to even to pay fees for an ID card. In my state it costs thirty-five or forty dollars, depending on which county you live in, to pay a fee for an ID card. In the Minority Leader's state Texans must pay a fee of sixteen dollars which for many here may not be a big deal but for those who are poor sixteen dollars is still a lot of money. 

 

I am very appalled by the amendment and am reminded of our counties troubling history of restricting ballot access to citizens. I shake my head and just conclude with shame on the Senate GOP for proposing this Amendment.

 

I yield.

 

 

 

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