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Acasio lays Out Priorities She Hopes to Tackle as Senator

January 21, 2021, 5:49 PM HST
* Updated January 21, 10:32 PM
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Laura Acasio

Sen. Laura Acasio, newly appointed to fill Kai Kahele’s seat in the Hawai‘i State Legislature, is focused on addressing disparities in the health care system.

Acasio spoke to media over Zoom on Thursday and laid out what she hopes to tackle during this legislative session for Hilo’s 1st District. Named to the position by Gov. David Ige just 48 hours ago, she doesn’t have legislation to offer immediately but is working on introducing a legislation package.

“It’s a huge responsibility as well as privilege that I don’t take lightly,” Acasio said of her new job.

A primary priority for Acasio is health and wellness including protecting against COVID-19. Additionally, she hopes to address some of the health care service disparities in her district as a result of its location on an outer island.

“Being that we have a large kūpuna population, it’s incredibly important,” Acasio said.

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Aside from health care, the senator hopes to address food insecurities, way stream conservation and capital improvement projects, specifically those that improve school safety. She also hopes to tackle invasive species, particularly the Queensland long horn beetle.

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“I intend on connecting with folks on the Banyan Drive redevelopment project following in Kai Kahele’s footsteps,” she said.

Acasio said she is a community advocate and a public servant, adding the position gives her an opportunity to write legislation and work with people to write legislation that helps Hilo.

“This is an ‘us’ even though it’s a job of one and (a) small staff. The work is a collective voice of all those I represent,” Acasio said.

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Acasio has lived in Hilo for 17 years and has called Hawai‘i home for more than 25 years. She graduated from University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa with a bachelor’s degree in geography. Acasio has two children ages 14 and 16.

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