Name on ballot:
Maile S. L. Shimabukuro
State Senate – District 22
Previous job history:
• Law Clerk at State District Court (6/2000-6/2001)
• Legal Assistant to Alan Burdick (8/1998-12/1999)
• Research Assistant to Prof. Eric Yamamoto at University of Hawaii School of Law (5/1999-8/1999)
• Paralegal at Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (2/1992-08/1998)
• Reporter for The Leeward Coaster (1992-1997)
• Editorial Intern at Trade Publishing Company (1996)
• State Health Insurance Program Clerk at Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (1989)
Previous elected office, if any:
State House, District 45 (Waianae & Makaha); 2003-2010
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
I have served as Chair of the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee since 2013. I am also a member of the Ways and Means, and Transportation Committees. In addition to serving as a legislator, I am an attorney at a non-profit legal services office, and I represent clients in primarily family and public benefit cases. I am a proud graduate of Maili Bible, Wai‘anae Elementary, Our Lady of Sorrows (nka Hoala School), ‘Iolani, Colorado College, and the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law.
What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?
Traffic. Fortunately, this session I worked with my colleagues Rep. Cedric Gates, Rep. Stacelynn Eli, and others, to obtain $31m to extend the fifth lane on Farrington Highway, work on a parallel route, improve sidewalks, and implement other traffic calming and safety measures. Earlier this year at the suggestion of constituent Ryan Tolentino of Tolentino Honey, I worked with DOT to alter the afternoon contraflow in Nanakuli so that the eastbound merge could be eliminated. This change vastly improved traffic flow for the many teachers, medical staff, social workers, parents, and others heading eastbound out of the Waianae Coast in the afternoons, without significantly delaying traffic for westbound commuters.
Rising inflation has significantly worsened Hawaii’s already high cost of living. What can be done at the state level to help Hawaii residents cope with high consumer prices?
The Legislature made huge strides toward helping the middle class and working families by finally making the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundable and permanent. In addition, we increased the minimum wage to $18 per hour by 2028.
Hawaii’s rising gasoline prices are among the highest in the nation. Should Hawaii lower or temporarily suspend state taxes on gasoline to help ease the pain at the pump?
No, since that is a critical funding source for maintaining our highways and other transportation infrastructure. However, I am proud to say that in 2022 we passed a bill to provide tax credit payments to HI residents to provide them with needed financial relief.
The 2022 Hawaii State Legislature passed S.B. 514 which provides a refund for resident taxpayers who file their 2021 individual tax return (Form N-11) on or before December 31, 2022. The amount of the refund is $100 or $300 per exemption (person) depending on the taxpayer’s federal adjusted gross income and filing status. The Department of Taxation (Department) is still in the process of reviewing the measure and does not have any specific details to share at this time. Resident taxpayers who have already filed their tax return do not need to take any further action to receive their refund. The Department anticipates that it will be able to begin processing refunds in late August. An announcement will be issued when more details are available.
Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.
Oppose since we are still recovering from the economic damage of COVID19.
Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?
As far as diversifying the economy, I am proud to say that I fought for $40m in special purpose revenue bonds for DIBSHawaii to engage in a carbon capture project via SB2865. DIBSHawaii is owned by Keoni Ford, a Hawaiian from Waianae. Ford and his colleagues plan to build a net-zero carbon capture storage utilization platform that will recover vented carbon dioxide emissions and scrub and liquify the emissions into food-grade liquid carbon dioxide. The recovered carbon dioxide may be placed in pressurized storage tanks, creating a virtual terminal for food-grade carbon dioxide to be utilized across the State. This product will be utilized for agriculture, energy, and carbon storage in support of the food security and resilience goals of the State. The intent is for seventy-five percent of the repurposed carbon dioxide to be dedicated to agriculture and energy. The other twenty-five percent is projected to be dedicated to the DOD to be used as critical process input to create renewable jet fuel and further advance dry ice cleaning efforts, as well as for carbon dioxide mineralization in concrete for state government projects. Other intended uses include hemp carbon sequestration, hemp soil remediation, hemp building material, hemp wellness, the farming of hops and other crops.
What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?
In the 2022 session, we tackled the housing crisis by allocating $5m toward affordable homeownership, $10m to public housing, $15 to Ohana Zones, $23m to housing subsidies for TANF recipients, $9.8m to teacher housing, over $600m to DHHL, and many more low-income and affordable housing initiatives.
What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
I am happy to share that the long awaited COVID-19 vaccines for keiki under the age of five will soon be available. DOH is authorizing enrolled COVID-19 vaccination providers to administer the vaccines as soon as they become available.
DOH is expecting delivery of 27,500 doses of the new keiki vaccines. The vaccines will be distributed to hospitals, pediatricians’ offices, and clinics. Pharmacies and community health centers will receive additional vaccine shipments directly from the manufacturers. Vaccines for keiki under five will be available on all islands.
Hawaii isn’t likely to see a repeat of this year’s $2 billion revenue surplus which allowed higher-than-normal spending on state programs and projects. If elected, what will your top spending priorities be?
Widening Farrington Highway, creating a parallel route, cooling the schools, providing a facility for the Papahana O Kaiona alternative learning program, continuing to address the DHHL waitlist, etc
What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
We should pass measures ensuring that women will continue to have access to safe abortions under state law.
What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?
We must invest in our youth by investing in our teachers, and paying them higher salaries! It saddens me that teachers are struggling to get by, and our public schools are plagued by high turnover, repair and maintenance backlogs, and a lack of support. I am proud to say that this session we made monumental strides toward increasing teacher salaries. We allocated $130m toward the teacher salary compression fix and modernization. We also continued to fund salary differentials for teachers in hard-to-fill, Hawaiian immersion, and special education, to the tune of $34.5m. We should continue to fund these critically needed items to support our teachers, and to foster the future human capital of our state.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?
The Legislature made big strides toward increasing transparency and accessibility by opting to continue allowing the public to participate remotely in legislative hearings, even after the Capitol re-opened. Further, the Legislature continued the practice started during the pandemic to provide live YouTube broadcasts of hearings, and archive the videos on YouTube. Compared to pre-pandemic, these practices have vastly improved public access and transparency for all citizens. I will continue to support these and other similar initiatives.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
I defer to Hawaii Island residents on this issue.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I am an active member of the Women of Waianae, which raises funds to provide scholarships to non-traditional students from the Waianae Coast. I am also a planner and participant in the Landshark Invitational Surf Meet, which raises funds for good causes such as environmental law initiatives.
I am very fortunate to have received the following HONORS AND AWARDS:
• Aloha Spirit Award (Landshark Invitational Surf Meet 2019)
• K.E.L.I.I. Foundation Honorable Recognition (2019)
• Ku‘i ‘Ai Award (Ku‘i at the Capitol 2019)
• Advocates for Public Interest Law “Pick of the Year” Award (2016)
• Waianae Hawaiian Civic Club Honoree (2014)
• Outstanding Woman Lawyer of the Year (Hawaii Women Lawyers 2013)
• 25 People for the Next 25 Years (Hawaii Business Magazine 2007)
• Distinguished Supporter Award (University of Hawaii Center for Hawaiian Studies 2006)
• Best Up and Coming Legislator (Honolulu Weekly 2005)
• Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute Discovery Leadership Fellow (2003)
• Center on Women’s Policy Studies Foreign Policy Institute Fellow (2003)
• Hawaii Women’s Legal Auxiliary Scholarship (2000)
• Advocates for Public Interest Law Grantee (1998)
View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.