- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii has had her first bill as a federal lawmaker signed into law, a measure speeding up tax breaks for donations made to typhoon relief in the Philippines.

Hirono’s office said Wednesday that President Barack Obama signed the bill into law late Tuesday night allowing taxpayers to claim deductions for donations made between now and April 15 on their 2013 taxes rather than waiting until 2014.

The bill is meant to spur relief for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the central Philippines on Nov. 8. It killed more than 6,200 people, flattened towns and was one of the strongest typhoons on record.

More than 27,000 people were hurt in the typhoon and about 4 million were displaced, Hirono said.

“Many communities in the Philippines are still struggling to recover,” she said. “Nearly five months later, we can’t lose sight of the loved ones who are still missing, families that are still homeless.”

Hirono, a Democrat who was elected in November 2012 to replace the retiring Daniel Akaka, had previously had amendments and other elements within laws pass, but not a standalone bill she introduced.

The bill was introduced in December, the same day a companion bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California.

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Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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