Policy and Politics: Hooser TGI weekly column – Affordable Housing – When Bold Ideas Collide With The Status Quo

Many longstanding issues facing our community seem to be intractable but of course they are not.

What is intractable is reconciling the bold ideas with the political reality.

When faced with the political realities of competing interests, inevitably those strategies and plans that start out as a bold vision with potential for transformative and positive change eventually whither away and die, yielding to the dominant political power currently in place.

One of the most difficult issues facing our community is the lack of truly affordable housing.

Housing is considered “affordable” when a household spends less than 30 percent of their income on shelter and utilities and according to County statistics more than half of all Kauai renters and homeowners do not now live in affordable housing.  An individual earning $15 per hour (Hawaii’s current minimum wage of $9.25) and working 40 hours per week should pay no more than $720 per month for rent and utilities.   And with median annual incomes hovering around $62,000,  $400,000 to $500,000 homes are not affordable for the vast majority of Kauai residents.

Thousands of new affordable housing units, for purchase and for rent, are needed now.

The County and the State could if they had the political fortitude, today take extraordinary and bold action to aggressively develop truly affordable housing, in appropriate locations adjacent to existing urban areas and preserve this housing in perpetuity.

On Kauai’s west side, the State of Hawaii owns over 10,000 acres of land with a significant portion of it near existing urban areas.  Currently leased primarily to the large agrochemical companies, some of this land could easily be rehabilitated and converted to residential use.  Small truly affordable family farms for local residents could buffer the existing residential areas from the larger agricultural operations.

In Lihue, there are potentially thousands of undeveloped yet properly zoned residential house-lots located across from the airport, behind Walmart and near Hanamaulu.  The Grove Farm Land Company has a virtual monopoly on land suitable for residential development in and around Lihue.  Rather than accept the land-banking currently occurring, the County could pass carrot/stick laws (tax incentives or dis-incentives and or density allowances) to motivate the development of this land for affordable housing.  Or, the County could purchase the land at fair market value, increase the density as needed to lower the per unit cost to an affordable level and then partner with private affordable housing developers to actually build the units.

In every part of our island there are suitable lands available but controlled and land-banked by a handful of corporations most of whom’s history extend back to the plantation days.

The County and the State both have the power to borrow money at the very lowest rates needed to purchase the land and provide the essential infrastructure.  The increased property taxes resulting from the new developments could be used to pay the costs of that borrowing.

Similarly the County controls the land-use and permitting process, and arguably the cost and availability of water and sewer facilities.

To help pay for affordable housing the County could increase the property tax on Hotels and Resorts, on large undeveloped residentially zoned lands, and on the vacant homes of absentee owners/investors.

The land base on Kauai is dominated by literally a handful of large landowners.  The County could simply draw a line in the sand, implement a moratorium and refuse to approve any new re-zoning of any agricultural lands at all, except for 100% truly affordable housing projects located in existing urban areas.

All of the above are potential solutions that could dramatically alleviate the lack of affordable housing on Kauai.  And all remain blocked by daunting political challenges designed to protect and preserve the status quo.  History tells us that meaningful change will occur only when the community actively engages the issue, demands the change that is needed and exerts its own political power.

First printed in The Garden Island newspaper on July 12, 2017

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A Hard Ask, A Kauai Invitation and A PHI Update

Please join us this coming Sunday July 9 from 5 until 7pm at the Ha Coffee Bar in Lihue (4180 Rice Street) to learn more about the Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI).  Kauai friends and residents are welcome to join us for lite pupu and informal yet quality policy and political conversation.  Learn more about PHI!

If you are already familiar with PHI, you might skip to the bottom for “The Hard Ask” and how you can help.

If you are considering running for a Kauai political office in 2018 and/or want to be part of the core Kauai policy and politics PHI team, please email or call me directly 808-652-4279 so we (myself and other PHI Board Members) can meet with you individually (or in a small group) perhaps during the day Saturday July 8, or on Sunday July 9th earlier in the day prior to the Ha Coffee Bar event.

Maui and Big Island – Please stay tuned for your dates/venue!

PHI is a statewide organization focused on policy advocacy (51%) and electoral politics (49%). One of PHI’s primary goal’s is to identify, recruit and support candidates for public office at the State and County level.  We believe that the election of a small number of strong individuals who represent our general world view (economic, environmental and social justice), can significantly “move the needle” toward a more just and sustainable future for Hawaii. Electing just two or three strong individuals in the Hawaii Senate, and four to five in the State House could have a profound impact on Hawaii’s future.

Our plan includes partnering and aligning with other organizations/communities on all islands so that energy and resources are focused on candidates who will effectively represent our common interests, and who can win.

PHI’s policy initiatives will be equally aggressive and includes the development of new policy, proposing citizen driven ballot initiatives at the County level and advocacy for and against policy proposed at the state and county level (statewide).

We believe 2018 is the year to make bold policy and political change happen in Hawaii and are determined to support making that a reality.  PHI is a statewide effort, we are “all in” to win and we ask that you join us!

The Hard Ask

The Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) now in its start-up phase needs your support today.  We still need to raise approximately $4,000 to meet our fundraising goal of $8,000 which will pay our start up costs (legal etc) and initial operations.  The PHI plan calls for a single half-time staff person and no physical office.  I am an unpaid full-time volunteer but there are still expenses to deal with.

This is a “hard ask” not in the sense that it is difficult for me to make the request, but that it is especially important that we have your financial support now, prior to July 9 if at all possible. Everyone has the ability to give, at some level.  Some reading this email have the ability to fully fund our entire request at $4,000 and others because of circumstances may only be able to contribute $25 or perhaps less.  All contributions are welcome and the gifting of even $5 demonstrates your support and commitment to this effort.

There, the “hard ask” has been done.  Believe me, if I didn’t have to ask I would not, and again as a volunteer I am paid nothing.  Know also that I understand that the constant asking for donations can wear thin on the recipient and my hope is to soon hit the “pause button”, but that cannot happen until we meet our initial start-up goal 😉

Thank you in advance for your help and mahalo plenty to those who have already stepped up and made a contribution.

Contributions may be made online at: https://www.ponohawaiiinitiative.org/contribute/

Or via mail:
Pono Hawaii Initiative
P.O. Box 871
Honolulu, Hawaii 96808Pono Hawaii Initiative is a 501c4 entity and contributions are NOT deductible as charitable contributions for federal or state income tax purposes.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser
Volunteer Executive Director
Pono Hawaii Initiative

NOTE1: Some have asked about the difference between H.A.P.A. and PHI and why the need to have two organizations.

Below is a very brief summary of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) and the Kuleana Academy.  It is important to note that H.A.P.A. is a 501c3 initiative and the Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) is a 501c4.  These organizations while complementary, have totally separate Boards, budgets and administration as each has different legal constraints with regards to lobbying and political advocacy.  I am the volunteer Board President for H.A.P.A. and the volunteer Executive Director for PHI.

NOTE2: Contributions to H.A.P.A. are tax deductible but those made to the Pono Hawaii Initiative are not.

H.A.P.A. Kuleana Academy: http://www.hapahi.org/kuleana-academy

The Kuleana Academy is a three-month leadership development and non-partisan candidate training program hosted by the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) in partnership with other leading public interest organizations in Hawai’i.  This program is designed to educate and train grassroots leaders who have a desire to serve in public office.  The program also provides participants from all islands a well-rounded introduction to critical social, economic and environmental issues in Hawai‘i, as well as in-depth leadership development training and the ins-and-outs of campaigning.  H.A.P.A. does not endorse nor support individual candidates, the application process is competitive and there is no litmus test for acceptance.  Applications for the upcoming September program are still being accepted.

*Our recent event at the Cafe Julia on Oahu was a great success!  Mahalo to all for the support and energy.

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Dangerous Times, Require Bold and Responsible Actions

Policy and Politics – Gary Hooser

We are living in interesting and some would say dangerous times.  Daily we awake to news generated by a President who appears increasingly unstable; tweeting out angry, disjointed and cryptic messages in the early hours of the morning.   We have the so-called leader of the free world mired in a tangled web of deceit and deception, surrounded by plots within plots as uncertainty and crisis become the new norm.

Meanwhile we are alienating our once friends and allies abroad, provoking unstable enemies in possession of nuclear weapons and sending more and more young men and women off to fight ill-conceived and seemingly endless wars.

Other than read and fret daily over the news, most of us feel powerless in our ability to impact the national and international theater.  Hawaii U.S. Senators and Representatives are thankfully working hard to at least slow and hopefully prevent the total shredding of our social safety net, the general disintegration of environmental protections and a dismantling of our already frail health care system.

Sadly the war machine marches on unfettered by either side of our national leadership as the United States remains the number one seller of weapons on the planet.

Yes we must resist the madness and engage when possible the larger debate, but equally if not more importantly we can and must breathe new life into the adage “think global, act local”.

At both the State and County level our government has the power and authority to step forward to fill some of the gaps and shore up the systems rapidly being torn apart at the Federal level.

The State and County could increase the implementation and enforcement of existing local environmental protections even as they are weakened daily at the federal level.  Our local government could get serious about addressing the gross income disparity by increasing tax fairness at both the State and the County level shifting the burden to where it most belongs, to the top 1% and to the large multinational corporations that earn large profits here but to a great extent fail to pay their fair share.

There is much that local government can do but it takes bold action and a willingness to take risks and disrupt the status quo, attributes not normally associated with those holding political office.  I know as I have been there.  The nature of a political body is to take tiny bites and support small incremental change or do nothing at all.

However the times we live in require more.  Our planet is burning up, and the extreme income and wealth disparity between the top 1% and the rest of us increases daily.  We have a climate change denier for President, an EPA Director who views environmental protections as a impediment and a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who thinks poverty “is a state of mind” seemingly oblivious to the fundamental institutional injustices that hold people down.

Our State and County government, both the elected officials and the agencies that implement the laws already in place can and must do more.  And the citizens for whom government is accountable must do more as well.  Each of us must take ownership and responsibility for the government we have, and we must spend the time and energy necessary to make it better, bolder and more effective.

As has been said by many others, “When the people lead, the leaders will follow”.  Please take the time as an individual citizen to lead; show up, get involved, call your local elected government leaders, encourage them to be bold and offer to help.

Now more than ever we must embrace our collective responsibility for the actions of our government and the future of our community.

gh

(first published 6/28/17 The Garden Island newspaper)

Gary Hooser – Formerly served in the Hawaii State Senate where he served as Majority Leader.  He also served for 8 years on the Kauai County Council and was the former State Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control  (OEQC).  He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as Board President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) and is the volunteer Executive Director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

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An impetus for change – Pono Hawaii Initiative

It is critically important that we act now to move the politics & policy needle forward here in Hawaii. To keep the momentum going requires action, leadership and focus.  

The Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) has been formed to do just that.  PHI is focused solely on supporting policy and political change in Hawaii and in fact moving that needle over the coming 18 months.  Our core values are driven by the need to increase the level of economic, environmental and social justice that exists in Hawaii.  The status quo is unacceptable: Affordable housing is an oxymoron, our coastal waters and mountain streams are in constant peril of increasing degradation and general inequality exists at far too many levels.

In addition to identifying, encouraging and supporting new candidates for public office, working with its community partners, PHI will also be working on identifying and supporting new ballot initiatives at the County level.  If our county and state legislators refuse to pass meaningful legislation, the people at the County level have the power to do it directly.  Affordable housing, solid waste, industrial agriculture and “good government” issues are all on the table for discussion.

Tomorrow, Thursday June 15th from 5 to 7pm at Cafe Julia on Oahu we will be hosting an informal reception to introduce the Pono Hawaii Initiative and hopefully engage your interest and support.  Please come if you can.  We are planning similar events in the near future for Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island.

Please.  Join me in this effort. I am a volunteer and we need more volunteers.

And yes we also need your financial support. This is a hard ask, but it must be done and the cause is a righteous one – Achieving positive tangible change in the next 18 months. We have modest administrative and operating costs that are involved in operating any organizations and I am asking if you can help a little. 

Please give online today if you can.  Whether it is $25, $50, $100 or $1,000 all are needed and greatly appreciated.  My hope is to announce during tomorrows event that we have raised sufficient funds to pay for our start-up costs and our first month of operations (approximately $8,000 total).  We then hope to build our support month to month as we move toward our 2018 goals.  

https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/contribute/

Mahalo to all who have already given.   Your help in making these initial “founding contributions” large and small, is much needed and greatly appreciated.

New political leaders dedicated to putting people and the planet first are stepping forward and making the commitment to run for public office.  New programs such as H.A.P.A.’s Kuleana Academy are providing education and training.  

A diverse network of advocacy organizations representing economic, environmental and social justice interests are coming together unified both in their disappointment in the existing political environment and in their optimism for the future and possibility of change.

We can do this.  

Please help, today if you can.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser
808-652-4279
Volunteer Executive Director
Pono Hawaii Initiative

More info about me –  http://www.garyhooser.com

Note1: Pono Hawaii Initiative is a 501c4 nonprofit but contributions are NOT tax deductible (primarily because we will entirely focused on supporting policy change and endorsing candidates).  Note: Regular political donations to candidates are also not tax deductible.

Note2: The Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) is a 501c3 nonprofit and not permitted under federal law from actively supporting political candidates and is limited in its ability to support specific legislative initiatives.  Thus the need for a new and separate organization such as PHI.  H.A.P.A. continues to play an invaluable role in support of educating the public on policy, general advocacy and in educating and training emerging political leaders via the Kuleana Academy http://www.hapahi.org/kuleana-academy .  

Though each organization is “complementary” and in general shares a common world view of putting people and the planet first, each has a totally separate Board of Directors, totally separate administrative structure and totally separate budget and fundraising programs.  I am the volunteer President of the Board for H.A.P.A., and the volunteer Executive Director for PHI.

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2017 Legislature – Fail

By almost all measures, the 2017 legislative session deserves a report card dominated by “F’s”.

Instead of rising to the occasion, the Hawaii legislature is closing its session wallowing in the abyss of failure, well beyond the low end of mediocrity.

While a few bones were tossed out and crumbs dribbled here and there, the 2017 Hawaii State Legislature failed to move forward any meaningful positive agenda in support of environmental, economic or social justice.

They failed to cap interest rates on “pay-day lending,” failed to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, failed to regulate restricted-use pesticides, failed to ban polystyrene foam single-use containers, failed to protect the vital aquifer at Red Hill, failed to deal with the issue of quiet title to kuleana lands, failed to act on domestic violence, failed to prevent discrimination in healthcare access, failed the captive laborers in our fishing fleets, and failed in many, many other areas.

They could not even agree to set clean energy goals for transportation – goals mind you, not a mandate. Instead they caved in to the auto industry and climate deniers.

With a Trump administration in Washington DC aggressively working to reduce environmental protections, shred the social safety net and take away rights of the already disenfranchised, some of us actually hoped that 2017 would be a time for bold action by our Hawaii legislators.

But instead of bold action we received the same excuses that are delivered at this same time year after year. The phrases are so predictable that journalists can pre-write their stories with “insert phrase here” and just drop in the appropriate “We ran out of time,” or “We didn’t have the votes,” or “We will keep working on this during the interim, ” or “It was a bad bill,” ad nauseam.

To be clear, the problem is not a “bad bill.” If a bill is bad they should fix it or come up with another solution that they can support. The purpose of the legislature is not simply to pass and kill bills, but rather to solve problems.

If the legislature “runs out of time,” then they can and should extend deadlines and do the work needed to protect the public interest. Failing to ban the Restricted-Use Pesticide chlorpyrifos is an unconscionable act of neglect. Used widely in Hawaii on all islands, chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxin known to inhibit brain development in children and there is no safe level of exposure for a fetus. The “pre-Trump” Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended banning this dangerous chemical from use on food crops, but the “post-Trump” EPA director has reversed his own agency’s recommendation and refused to ban the substance. Instead of stepping up to protect children, the Hawaii legislative response is: “Let’s wait until next year and take this up again.”

Pay-day lending is an industry that is allowed, by Hawaii law, to charge in excess of 400 percent (interest/fees) on the loans made primarily to low income workers living paycheck to paycheck. For the past 12 years a bill has been introduced each session that attempts to cap the interest rate at 18 percent (or sometimes 32 percent). Each year the industry prevails and the bills die and the excuse is “We didn’t have the votes.” Yet there are rarely any vote actually taken and, consequently, the public never really knows who is in support and who is not.

On the surface, the membership in the House and Senate appear to be completely dominated by the Democratic Party. But it is clear from their actions that a majority of those serving are essentially Democrats In Name Only (DINOs). Most choose the D label as a matter of convenience and give only lip service to Party values and platform.

The Democratic revolution of 1954 that took control of Hawaii’s government from the “Big 5” sugar plantation and land-based corporations created a wave of progressive political and policy reform. New candidates ran for office and were elected by a newly inspired electorate.  As a result, many bold policy reforms were instituted in support of worker rights and environmental protections.  

Somewhere along the way, Hawaii’s political leadership lost its way. There are solid progressive legislators in both the House and the Senate, but their effectiveness is hamstrung by a corporatist-centered leadership unwilling to buck the powers of Bishop Street.

It’s time for a new political and policy revolution in Hawaii.

Fortunately new leaders, some spawned by the Bernie Sanders movement and others simply called by the urgency of the moment, are starting to step forward. As these new individuals begin to test their mettle, both in the elections process and in the general area of public policy advocacy, a new wave is being created. 

The momentum for change is building. May 4th marks the close of the 2017 legislative session but also marks the birth of a new movement for change. 

This is a movement where people once again take ownership of their government, demand accountability from their legislators and support and empower those new leaders willing to stand up to the corporate and establishment powers now in control. 

Please join with us Thursday March 4 from 7am until 8:30am along Miller Street to express our extreme disappointment with those at the legislature who have failed us so miserably this year.

(first published in Civil Beat on May 1, 2017)

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Kabuki smoke and mirrors political BS (with all due respect)

If they really wanted to, the Hawaii legislature and/or the Department of Agriculture could ban chlorpyrifos today.

In yesterdays April 2nd Honolulu Star-Advertiser headlined “Push to ban insecticide builds at Legislature, Rep. Chris Lee Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee is quoted as saying “We have an obligation as elected officials at the state level to take action to protect our people when the federal government won’t.”

Not to be left out of the good intentions, Senator Mike Gabbard Chair of the Senate Agriculture said according to the newspaper article “that he would support an effort to ban chlorpyrifos.”

The story further reported that even the Director of Agriculture, Scott Enright was jumping on the ban chlorpyrifos bandwagon and now also supports banning this nasty neurotoxin that has already been banned nationally for residential use.

But of course the touch of reality came from Representative Richard Creagan Chair of the House Agriculture Committee saying, “As much as I would like to ban chlorpyrifos this year, I don’t anticipate that happening.” He called the EPA decision not to ban this restricted use pesticide “egregious”.

So key leaders in both the House and the Senate, plus the Director of Agriculture all support the banning of chlorpyrifos but yet the conclusion is, not now maybe later.

WTF?

It seems our legislative leaders have concluded that we have run out of time and the rules don’t allow making an actual ban happen this year. Maybe next year is the thought.

I beg to differ. There is a vehicle in SB804HD1 which is still alive awaiting a hearing in House Finance.

SB804HD1 contains language pertaining to chlorpyrifos and is titled Relating To Pesticides and could be amended in House Finance to become a ban, if there was the political will do do so.

If the legislatures rules prevent this measure from being the vehicle for any reason, the House and the Senate can change the rules. They do this all the time.

But they won’t. Because as nice as the words sound and as sincere as the intent might be, the leadership in the Hawaii House and Senate operate on a premise that the industry position is the one that prevails. And House/Senate leadership is supported/enabled by the majority.

If Speaker of the House Joe Souki and President of the Senate Ron Kouchi wanted to pass a ban on chlorpyrifos and protect our health and environment it could happen this year.

As things now stand given the current makeup of the House and Senate, it will not happen this year or next because the driving force behind all of this is the corporate power and influence of the 4 companies that actually make, sell and use the vast majority of this chlorpyrifos in Hawaii – Dow AgroScience, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

The industry drives the agenda. Zero Bills ever pass that attempt to regulate them, even those as embarrassingly weak as the existing language contained within SB804HD1. The industry is in charge and the industry will have none of it. Nothing, zero, nada.

If the Governor and his Department of Agriculture head Scott Enright really wanted to ban chlorpyrifos they don’t even have to wait for the legislature as this could also be accomplished via executive order and rule-making. The truth is they don’t really want to ban or regulate anything against the wishes of these large companies, and these companies do not support and will not support ANY attempts to increase their regulation.

So with all due respect to my friends at the legislature and at the governors office, this is all shibai – kabuki smoke and mirrors political bullshit.

Chlorpyrifos is a known neurotoxin used by the ton in Hawaii, banned in many other countries, and banned already in America for residential use. This is the same restricted use pesticide that Syngenta workers were hospitalized for after being exposed on Kauai resulting in a $4.8 million civil action against the company by the EPA. It is also the same chemical that was being sprayed in the fields directly next to the Waimea Canyon Middle School the day the kids got sick. Chlorpyrifos has been detected in air and water samples and even in a bee hive recently tested on Kauai.

Chlorpyrifos is used on all islands and the science is unequivocal. This is a nasty, nasty pesticide that has been proven to inhibit the brain development of the developing fetus as well as a long list of other severely negative health impacts – EVEN WHEN EXPOSED TO VERY SMALL AMOUNTS.

The legislature and/or the governor could take action to ban chlorpyrifos today. Please take the time today to call your district House Representative (look it up) and House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke 808-586-6200 and ask that SB804HD1 be scheduled and amended to ban chlorpyrifos. Please call BOTH as BOTH are responsible.

When your district Rep tells you “There is nothing I can do as it is up to the House Finance Chair.” Please confirm that they do in fact support banning chlorpyrifos, and then ask them to also call the House Finance Chair and request a hearing. An individual House member calling the House Finance Chair to request a hearing is common practice and they should not resist this simple act (if they are sincere in their support of a ban).

Finally, when they tell you “we missed the deadline” or, “the rules don’t allow that” – Please remind them gently but firmly that “you guys make the rules” and “you guys can change the deadlines”.

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HB790 and my discussion with Kauai Rep. Morikawa

Below is a chain of communications between myself and Representative Dee Morikawa who represents the west side of Kauai which is home base for the chemical companies, Dow, Dupont and Syngenta.

I posted the below on FaceBook on Tuesday March 7th in response to an article posted in The Garden Island. Rep. Morikawa “shared” my post this morning. Consequently there are multiple threads of comments etc.

So- To provide a coherent view of the exchange and alleviate the need for going back and forth between the two posts, I have posted below the entire text of our various statements
***********************************************************
Original Facebook post March 7, 2017

Unfortunately Kauai Representative Dee Morikawa announced today she does not support allowing the County to protect itself against the health and environmental harms caused by the chemical companies based in her district – and she will be voting NO on HB790.

It appears also that she does not fully understand that HB790’s disclosure provisions only apply to the very largest users of Restricted Use Pesticides and will have zero impact on small farmers.

Is sad really as the legislative session still has a long way to go.

If there are valid concerns with the specific language of this important measure those elements could be dealt with via amendments as the measure moves forward in the process.
It is far too early to simple kill the Bill and end the entire discussion.

If you live on Kauai’s west side, please consider making a last minute call to her office with a polite request that she reconsider her position, vote yes and support allowing this important conversation to continue. 808-586-6280. Calls must be made before 11am today, Tuesday March 7. (subsequent note – vote will now be tomorrow, Thursday March 8th)

http://m.thegardenisland.com/news/local/pesticide-bill-will-be-put-to-a-vote/article_7d79c5e8-e38b-5db9-9384-6c185eacb9dc.html?mode=jqm

***********************************************

March 8, 2017 below was posted on FaceBook by Representative Dee Morikawa who represents the west side of Kauai which is home base for the chemical companies, Dupont, Dow, and Syngenta.

“For anyone seeing this post, let me clarify this. I passed the pesticide disclosure bill in 2013 that makes it Mandatory to report restricted use pesticides to the public. Shortly after, 2491 came out by the Kauai County. Then the Kauai Good Neighbor Program was developed and for 3 years reporting by large Kauai ag companies has been occurring. Now in 2017 the Dept. of Ag will be rolling out this program for the whole state to follow. They need to move carefully, and in step with resources to make sure the program can work. You cannot throw mandates without a budget to do it. So let’s be honest about this Gary Hooser. Tell people the whole truth. HB 790 is badly written, and will cost taxpayers a lot of money to accomplish zilch. I do careful and responsible legislation and am embarrassed to see this bill passed in its form. This is an attack to my district who many are employed by these businesses. Who work hard to provide a quality lifestyle for their families, who are community leaders that volunteer to provide children access to sports, community and school events. THE DISCUSSION WE NEED IS ABOUT LEAD POISONING.”

*****************************************************
March 8, 2017

Rep. Morikawa,
Good people can look at the same information and come to different conclusions.

The disclosure Bill you passed in 2013 while well intended and I applaud your effort the end result is totally inadequate and does not accomplish what is needed. http://www.civilbeat.org/2015/03/after-2-years-hawaii-still-wont-enforce-pesticide-disclosure-law/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=users&utm_campaign=morning_beat

The so-called Good Neighbor Program is voluntary, participation is inconsistent, the reports do not include all pesticides and critical pre and post application public notification/signage requirements are woefully inadequate. For the past year the state department of agriculture has suggested that they intend to go “statewide” but we have yet to see that happen, and there are no indications it will happen anytime soon.

The threat of “costing the state a lot of money” is a red herring. The state can and should pass the cost of regulation on to those who are being regulated (the large multinational chemical companies). This is lawmaking 101 – increase fees to pay for administration and place burden of compliance on the companies backed up by fines and penalties. For the state to wring its hands, whine and complain about how difficult this is to implement or that this is going to cost the state “millions” is disingenuous at best.

Like the vast majority of Bills passed at this stage in the legislative process, HB790 is a work in progress. This is the nature of lawmaking at the state legislative level. The reason to “defect the date and move it forward” is to allow further public discussion and permit the various Senate committees to also review and further amend the measure as may be needed. At the end, the Bill would be further reviewed and amended in conference committee – it is only at this point when this and most Bills are finally complete and ready for a final vote. You know this Dee and you know that most of the measures you vote on daily are similar “works in progress”.

HB790 will have no negative impact on the employees of the chemical companies you are concerned about. Syngenta is being fined $4.8 million for not protecting these same people. Perhaps this is a better place to focus your energy and outrage. We should all also be outraged that these companies pay their field workers so little that they must import contract labor from the mainland instead of hiring local residents.

I agree that these companies spend lots of money on community events for the west side of Kauai. I understand that they give lots of money to schools, clubs and various west side organizations. I suggest their motives are not driven entirely by altruism but understand this money is important to the individuals and organizations who benefit from the largesse of the chemical industry.

And yes, lead poisoning is another very important issue that needs to be addressed and I am happy to know you are committed to working on this. Please know that I am very much interested in helping on this as well and will be supporting legislation focused on this issue, as well as continued to work on achieving full pesticide disclosure, buffer zones around schools and comprehensive testing of air, water and dust in the area.

As stated above, good people can look at the same facts and circumstances and come to different conclusions.

gh

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