The Movement – Winning In Solidarity

The agrochemical industry in Hawaii is losing the war they have waged against our community these past few years.  Rather than acknowledge our concerns about health and environmental impacts and comply with our modest requests for increased regulation, they have chosen to fight us every single step of the way and they are losing.

The industry is now back on their heels and we should be prepared for the pushback that is coming.  You can be sure they will attack soon and attempt to undermine the many victories and reverse the momentum that is on our side.  You can be sure they will attack our credibility and integrity while attempting to sow seeds of doubt as to our purpose and effectiveness.  They will denigrate our efforts and attempt to divide us.

But our resolve knows no limits.  We will be here long after they pack their bags and leave.  And yes, BASF has already announced their departure, Dupont has reduced their GE test fields by over 3,000 acres and Syngenta likewise has abandoned significant Kauai lands.

The experimental fields no longer are planted in Lihue across from the airport or near the major shopping areas.  The voluntary buffer zones and relentless public spotlight has resulted in the companies pushing their activity further from public areas which means a healthier environment for Kauai residents.

The march toward full accountability and full disclosure now has a life of its own and will not be stopped.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has two investigators now on the ground in Hawaii looking closely at the questionable and possible illegal conduct of the industry on several islands.

In a few short months the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will be taking under review the legal assault these companies have launched against the people of Kauai County, Maui County and Hawaii County.  Winning is a real possibility and the industry is terrified.

Our efforts at the State legislature have stopped numerous attempts to strip away the County authority to regulate agriculture.  The fight for mandatory state-wide disclosure of Restricted Use Pesticides application and related buffer zone requirements has been like an ongoing street fight, but we are winning on this front as well.

The State Department of Agriculture (SDOA) has announced its intent to extend Kauai’s existing voluntary program Statewide, and the SDOA sponsored Joint Fact Finding (JFF) report has recommended mandatory statewide disclosure, buffer zones and comprehensive testing.

Various public interest law firms are contemplating additional legal action during 2016 and the full ramifications of the Waimea communities unanimous court decision against Dupont Pioneer will continue to expand in the months ahead.

Syngenta’s inadequate worker safety standards resulted in the chemical exposure of 19 field workers to chlorpyrifos, sending at least 10 people to the hospital.  This unfortunate incident has focused increased attention on the practices of this industry in Hawaii and the potential health impacts on workers and the nearby communities.  The use of “contract labor” imported into Hawaii for high risk work and then exported out “back to where they came from” is also coming under increased scrutiny.

The public review of the agrochemical industries’ unethical conduct in Hawaii has reached both national and international audiences.  At least 5 different documentary films spotlighting the thuggish behavior of these companies and harmful health and environmental impacts of their operations are carrying our story around the world.  A major investigative national news organization is examining the Hawaii story and numerous national news organizations have and are reporting on Hawaii’s experience with the agrochemical industry.

New leaders are stepping up from our community to assume positions of leadership and run for public office.  People are stepping up, investing time and resources and starting their own small farms – walking the talk and growing local food for local people.  New stores carrying only local sourced food products have sprung up and more and more restaurants are focused on serving locally sourced organic products.

Our community is more aware and more informed on this issue than ever in history.

Yes, we are winning.  While there remain many battles and many challenges ahead, we are in fact winning. Our community is better off today than it was three short years ago as a result of our work.

And I mean OUR.  So many people and so many organizations, large and small have come together over the past few years to form this movement and we should take a moment to thank them.

Hawaii Seed, their founders and core volunteers on all islands started the discussion over a decade ago and invested countless hours in the sun, holding signs and holding the space for all of us.   Dustin Barca and Ohana O’ Kauai have played a pivotal role in galvanizing people on all islands to take to the streets, to march and to speak truth to power.   Ohana O’ Kauai is now growing food while continuing to grow the movement.  The Moms Hui organized on each island and is doing valuable work, Babes Against Biotech bolstered by a powerhouse social media platform was launched and outreach was extended to like minded groups globally.

On Kauai Fern Rosenstiel, Sol Kahn and a small group of keiki o ka aina began to meet in living rooms around the island launching the conversation that eventually resulted in Bill 2491.  In Hawaii County Councilmember Margaret Willie stepped up and enrolled others while Councilmember Elle Cochran held the torch high and bright on Maui as Shaka and a wide-spread network of community stepped into the space on Maui setting up that epic battle which has become the Maui miracle.  The powerful voice of Uncle Walter Ritte together with the rise of the Aloha Aina movement added more momentum.  The Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action or HAPA (of which I am the volunteer President of the Board) was formed to help organize, educate and advocate statewide, and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) stepped up to provide critical technical expertise as another valuable partner.

Earthjustice (Ej) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) have been anchors in the storm.  Their legal experience, support and advocacy has been incredibly valuable.  EJ has fought and won for us many public battles in Hawaii and around the world and we are fortunate to have their expertise and dedication in defense of our planet.

When CFS opened its Hawaii office and hired Ashley Lukens our widespread volunteer base was provided for the first time with full-time professional administrative support.  Ashley and CFS have held down the fort at the legislature championing the good proposals, fighting relentlessly the bad ones and rallying the troops when needed.  Their “Pesticide Report” is an invaluable resource and CFS should be commended for taking this report directly to the people in all parts of the State included those towns directly impacted and dominated by industry forces.

The mosaic that is the strength of our success include individuals like Alika Atay, Hector Valenzuela, Wendell Kabutan, Malia Chun and countless others who have stepped up in singularly important ways to support, to advocate and to take our efforts forward.

Our movement consists of a wide variety of people and groups, each with our strengths and weaknesses and each with our own egos and personalities.  We must always remember to stand together.  In solidarity.

That is our strength.  That is why we are winning.

Find out more and support us if you can:

View: My remarks delivered to 900 Syngenta shareholders during their annual international shareholders meeting (4 minutes):

View: A short over-view of what we are fighting for:

View:  “The Little Island That Could” – my remarks on Kauai describing the Bill 2491 saga:

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Hooray! JFF Kauai Pesticide Report Calls For Full Disclosure, Buffer Zones and Comprehensive Testing

The recently released State/County Joint Fact Finding (JFF) report strongly validates Kauai resident concerns about the large scale use of Restricted Use Pesticides by the agrochemical industry.

The report makes specific recommendations to the State and County that include mandatory disclosure of pesticide use, water soil and air testing for pesticide drift and buffer zones around sensitive areas to protect against pesticide drift.

The report also strongly refutes the industry and government statements that the sickening of the students and teachers at Waimea Canyon Middle School was caused by “stinkweed”.  The report says clearly that nearby pesticide spraying was a much more likely cause of this incident.

Below is a summary of some key points contained within the report that backs up the above statements of fact.  Bold emphasis is added.  All are encouraged to read the full report and appendix (link at bottom).

And please sign the petition and circulate to your friends and neighbors:

Report was independent and neutral: “Following hearings on Bill 2491 and Ordinance 960 in 2013, Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho and State Department of Agriculture Director Scott Enright initiated an independent and neutral Joint Fact Finding Study Group…”  page 7.

High volume of pesticide use by industry: “Based on GNP data, seed companies applied an estimated 36,240 lbs., or 18.1 tons of RUPs in total formulation over the 20-month period from December 2013 – July 2015. “Total formulation” refers to the entire pesticide mixture, including inert ingredients. Seed companies and Kauaʻi Coffee applied approximately 15,072 lbs. or 7.5 tons of active ingredients over the same period. These same companies used 23 different RUPs containing 16 different active ingredients, either alone or in combinations.” page 23.

Pesticide drift from crop usage occurred at Waimea Canyon School: “In addition, three “contemporary pesticides” were found in air samples taken at WCMS that were not found at samples taken from the other four school sites. These pesticides were chlorpyrifos, metolachlor, and bifenthrin; all of which are active ingredients currently applied by seed companies on Kauaʻi. The concentration of chlorpyrifos was 24 times lower and metolachlor was 650 times lower than California’s subchronic levels of concern for the two chemicals. There is no health screening level for bifenthrin. Bifenthrin is also an active ingredient in RUPs used by golf courses on Kauaʻi, and is found in many GUP insecticides. The sampling studies are evidence that these currently used pesticides had drifted in the air.” page 40

There were actually 3 situations of possible pesticide contamination at Waimea Canyon Middle School: “Waimea Canyon (Middle) School (WCMS) is situated on the western boundary of Waimea Town. There are seed company operations on both sides of Waimea Town. In 2006 and 2008, there were events at the school during which students and teachers were sickened by odors. Some went directly home. Others were evaluated by Kauaʻi Fire Department Emergency Medical Technician and taken for care at the neighboring hospital. There was also a complaint related to pesticide use investigated in 2007.” page 78

It is much more likely that pesticide drift caused students and teachers to get sick at Waimea Canyon Middle School and not stinkweed: “….while there is no definitive cause for the heath symptoms reported in Waimea, they were far more likely related to pesticide exposures than from exposure to stinkweed organics, other plants or their decomposition products.” page 80.

Small low doses of pesticide exposure over time matter: “There is a growing body of medical literature demonstrating associations between health problems from low-level chronic exposures that accumulate over time. Such exposures may be from legacy or currently used pesticides. While the EPA has issued guidelines regarding toxic levels of acute exposure, data is only now being published regarding chronic low dose exposure and the association with chronic disease. There are particular concerns with respect to those exposures for pregnant women and children.” page 54

Key Report Recommendations (in part, see report for full recommendations):

“the Governor should support legislative requests for additional funding to implement the recommendations of this report” page 93 And “the Kauaʻi County delegation to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature work cooperatively to appropriate $3 million in State funding to the HDOA to implement the recommendations of this report. page 94

“Establish New State Standards for “Chronicity” that Take Account of Low Level Continuous Exposures.  Set more conservative margins of pesticide safety for RUPs and questionable GUPs that take into account the emerging chronic and compounding effects of pesticide exposure at levels lower than acute exposure thresholds.” page 95

Mandatory pesticide disclosure by large users: “the Good Neighbor Program should be revised and expanded statewide. Revisions should…; be made mandatory for all large RUP users; include selected GUPs…” GUP’s = General Use Pesticides such as glyphosate. page 96

“Establish a Consistent Buffer Zone Policy and Use “Green Screens.” page 96

“ensure drift-monitoring at selected property line sites, particularly downwind of high-volume application areas and around towns, schools, or public facilities near large agricultural areas.” page 97

“require that the Department of Water begin monitoring for chlorpyrifos…” page 100. “implement a systematic pilot program that tests Westside air, soils and dusts for pesticides in areas adjacent to seed company operations…” page 101

Will the Governor of the State of Hawaii and the Mayor of Kauai County now step forward to support these recommendations presented in a report and study they themselves sponsored? Or will industry pressure and condemnation of the reports recommendations carry the day?

The report states: “Because of the small populations involved and the lack of fully reliable and accurate health data, the information we assembled does not show that current pesticide use by seed companies and Kauaʻi Coffee plays a role in adverse health on Kauaʻi.” page 9

But the report also states: “The medical literature and limited local information we reviewed make a compelling case for the need to collect better data in the future and, most importantly, to systematically test the environment and population for possible causes, including possible harmful exposures.” page 9

The State Director of Agriculture and industry cheerleaders point to the lack of “statistically significant evidence” but fail to point out that this is essentially impossible to obtain given the small population of Kauai and of the west side in particular. The agrochemical companies know this very well and have historically used this to their advantage all over the world, poisoning one small town after another.

Read the Pulitzer award winning book: “Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation” by Dan Fagin, or any number of “Erin Brockovich like stories”.  The story is the same in community after community.  The companies come in to town, pollute and poison the health and the environment but the ever elusive ““statistically significant evidence” linking one companies individual action to one persons particular illness is most often impossible to isolate.

Everyone knows that pesticides are poisons and that these companies are using them by the truckload.  The evidence in this report proves without question that these poisons are drifting into the air of our schools and into stream waters and the water we drink.

But the big money, the big companies and the big lawyers, supported by government regulators suffering from “regulatory capture” and policy makers afraid to buck the industry, will hide behind the ever elusive “statistically significant evidence”.

And of course just like they are vehemently disputing the JFF report, whenever statistically significant evidence is presented these companies and their friends will dispute, diminish and criticize the data, and request still more studies until they eventually get a study/report that they agree with.

After-all this is what they do.

And of course what we do as a community is fight back until we win and these companies either comply with the will of our community or they leave.

I am hopeful the Governor and Mayor will exhibit the leadership necessary to move us forward and begin now implementing the recommendations put forth in their own report.


The entire report is here:

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

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Remarks on vision, bold action and leadership:

A friend asked a few weeks ago about “my vision for the future”.  At our March 1 campaign launch and “fun-raiser” (see video/report below) I spoke briefly about that vision and about the rewards and roadblocks involved in its pursuit.  In short, my vision is of Kauai being a global leader and of each of us as individuals and as the collective community being leaders who strive to make our home and our planet a better place.

My personal goal is that we are bold in our actions and that we model the value of kuleana, of community stewardship and of responsible civic engagement.

Kauai can lead on food self sufficiency while enhancing the health of our community and environment.  We have the land, the water, the market and a motivated citizenry needed to achieve this goal.  We also have a core base of small successful farmers, a community college poised to support the training of more and numerous individuals and organizations committed to the fundamental values of food self sufficiency and environmental stewardship.

If our community could coalesce around this fundamental goal and if our community and  political leaders were committed to guiding our County away from the status quo of industrial chemical intensive agriculture that literally produces no food whatsoever for our island, we could accomplish this incredible feat and set an example for the world.

It is a tough road to go down but we must say no to industrial dairies and to large scale pesticide intensive research crops that provide zero food for local consumption while polluting our environment and damaging our health.  We must put feeding ourselves and protecting our communities health and environment first.

If our County focused its energy and resources on supporting operations that grow real food for local consumption, we could be food self sufficient and have a booming food export based economy.  While the local market may be relatively small, the visitor industry brings in over a million visitors every year and they all have to eat.  The global market for organic clean foods is booming with no end in sight and small scale food processing facilities supporting high value niche markets could provide the added value products necessary to ensure profits.

What better place to make this vision a reality than on the garden island of Kauai.

Kauai could also lead on the fundamentals of how governments are supposed to work, and we can lead on fundamentals of individual civic engagement.  We should have the highest voter turnout, the most public forums for political candidates and the highest level of community participation in the public policy process.

Affordable housing is often seen as an oxymoron but we can lead in this area as well.  The only thing standing between us and dramatically increasing and maintaining a large inventory of affordable housing is the lack of political will to take bold action.  The County of Kauai holds tremendous power in the area of land use and we have the ability to borrow large sums of money at the very lowest rates.

The County could and should immediately identify large tracts of land located in or adjecent to existing urban areas and use our zoning authority and our borrowing capacity in partnership with the landowner to develop quality communities that are affordable for local families.  This of course should be done thoughtfully and in alignment with our General Plan, but we must treat this issue with the urgency that it deserves.

There are many other issues that need urgent attention including of course the extreme traffic congestion that exists in many areas but especially in the Kapaa-Wailua corridor.

The answer is a mix of highway improvements and the expansion of public transportation options.  We must push the State to take immediate action on improving our State highways and we must look to the visitor industry to help fund shuttles and public transportation options desperately needed to offset that industries impact on our public roadways.

There is no shortage of ideas and solutions, but it is the political will and the courage to take bold action that is lacking.

Collectively as a community I know we can overcome this weakness that is limiting our success and together we can do this.

2016 is the year in which we can make great strides.

Gary Hooser

PS – I would like to offer my sincerest mahalo to all who helped make our March 1 campaign kick-off “fun-raiser” a huge success.  While we planned for about 150 people, we had over 200 walk through the door!

And for those that are asking…yes we are still accepting contributions and still need your help and support.  Contributions may be made via PayPal here: Or mailed to Friends of Gary Hooser, 5685 Ohelo Road, Kapaa HI 96746.

Mahalo to The Greenery Cafe for the excellent food and to Norman “Kaawa” Solomon for the beautiful music. There are so many to thank and you know who you are, all who helped with the set up, decorations, sign-in, name tags, voter registration and more.

Here is a 30 minute video review of the event by Robert Zelkovsky you might enjoy.  My remarks and an extensive Q & A start at about the 8 minute mark.

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Kauai Residents: Urgent Call To Action

What could be the final hearing on Bill 2614 regulating lobbyists and lobbying is tomorrow, Wednesday March 9. The meeting starts at 8:30am and it is unclear exactly when this item will actually be discussed.

Please submit testimony as soon as possible to

The measure can be read in its entirety here:

Unfortunately a majority on the Council voted to significantly weaken the original Bill 2614 by removing a provision that would have prohibited lobbyists from giving gifts of any sort to elected officials.

The Bill was then weakened further by the deletion of a provision which banned paid lobbyists from sitting on certain Boards and Commissions such as the Ethics Commission, the Charter Review Commission and on any commission upon which they were paid to lobby on the subject matter being discussed. Fortunately, the measure retains the ban pertaining to the Ethics Commission but all others were deleted.

While my intent is to propose that a modified version of these two provisions be added back into the Bill, I am most concerned there will be further attempts to weaken and or delay the passage of this important legislation.

Kauai is the only County in the State of Hawaii without any laws regulating lobbyists and lobbying and currently in violation of the State Constitution requiring each County to do so.

Please submit your testimony today to

Be sure and state your position on Bill 2614 in the subject line along with a brief statement as to the nature of your testimony.

The provisions I hope to add back in are:

  1. A total gift ban by lobbyists to elected officials, with caveats to exclude flower lei, educational materials and other insignificant non-pecuniary items (no monetary value)
  2. A prohibition against lobbyists serving on the Planning Commission and the Charter Review Commission, both of which are directly involved in proposing and approving legislative initiatives.  Bill 2614 presently retains a provision banning lobbyists from serving on the Ethics Commission.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The definition of a lobbyist presently contained within the Bill essentially only applies to individuals who get paid to influence government on behalf of someone else.  Opponents of strong lobbying legislation are trying to confuse people into believing it will effect everyone who testifies, this is absolutely not true.

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Answer to Kapaa traffic mess is not to raise taxes but to get the State to do its job

Raising the taxes of local residents is not the answer to relieving traffic congestion on Kauai.  While the gas tax and vehicle weight tax might be better options than raising the General Excise Tax, the best option is no tax increase at all for local residents.

In case this point is not clear I will repeat: Increasing taxes will not decrease traffic congestion.

Yes, we need to support public transportation but the cost of those improvements should be borne through taxes and fees paid by the visitor industry who contribute a disproportionate number of cars to our highways daily.

The answer to relieving traffic congestion is not a County tax increase, but is simply getting our State government to do its job and fix our State highways.

The infamous “Kapaa Crawl” occurs daily along Kuhio Highway which is a State Highway.  Increasing County taxes to repave and improve County roads will have no impact on the traffic nightmare occurring daily along Kuhio Highway.  From Kawaihau Road to the North all the way to the tunnel of trees to the South and beyond, the traffic is horrendous and this entire stretch is a State highway.

It is our State governments responsibility to fix our State highways and it is long past time for our community to send a message loud and clear to our 4 State legislators, our State Department of Transportation and to our Governor.  Kuhio Highway in Kapaa is a disaster and the State of Hawaii needs to treat it with the urgency and importance it deserves.  The amount of money and time wasted daily in traffic is only part of it.  When a tsunami or other disaster requiring evacuation occurs at some point in the future, the results could be catastrophic.

Numerous small but worthy fixes have been proposed over the past 10 years but nothing has been done.  Even small fixes would provide some relief but nothing at all has been done and our community has reached its boiling point, again.  The last time, public sentiment boiled over it was “voila” and almost like magic the so-called temporary by-pass was created.  Prior to that it took an angry population and articles in the Wall Street Journal and again “voila” and the famous “contra flow” solution was seemingly instantly brought to life.

Some of the “fixes” to the Kapaa traffic are listed here:

And more detail including excellent maps is here:

It is time once again for the community to express its outrage and dissatisfaction with the neglect shown by State government.  We cannot afford to wait another decade, or even another election cycle

Please support “Resolution 2016- 31” scheduled for this Wednesday March 9 at the Historic County Building asking our State government to “…acknowledge the urgency and importance of addressing the extreme traffic congestion existing within the Kapa’a — Wailua Traffic Corridor and request that the State DOT accelerate the development of highway improvements in recognition of the emergency situation that exists.”

Read the entire Resolution here:

Please offer testimony in support of Resolution 2016 – 31 here:

Add your name to that of the Kauai County Council and send a message loud and clear to our State legislators, the State DOT and the office of the Governor.  We need help now.

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Please join me Tuesday March 1!

Please join me if you can Tuesday March 1 for our 2016 Kauai County Council Re-Election Campaign Kick-Off and Fun-Raiser!

Your presence if possible is important and your support of course is critical.

I am committed to continuing to work for you as a member of the Kauai County Council, but to do so I need your help.

Tuesday, March 1st, 6pm until 8pm at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihue

There will be ono food, great music and even greater fellowship and conversation.

Come early, bring family and friends – the event starts at 6pm with the program starting at 7pm.  Suggested $20 donation (welcome but not required), Kupuna and Keiki Free!

Please also help spread the word! Donations may be made at

All are welcome!  Come and join together with many others who share a common goal of making our community and our world, a better place.

Sincerely, gary

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How Unusual -Kauai Business Interests Seek To Weaken Kauai County Lobbyist Bill

“Lobbyist Bill Draws Strong Support” or “Local Lobbyists Oppose Lobbying Regulation Bill” are sample headlines that could have been displayed in The Garden Island article of February 11.

Over 50 people submitted testimony in support of Bill #2614 and only two people (a lobbyist and a public relations consultant) opposed the measure, yet the headline screamed “Lobbyist Bill Draws Opposition”.

The State Constitution requires every County to provide for “lobbyist registration and restriction” and Kauai County is the only County in our State without such an ordinance.

By definition a lobbyist is someone “who for pay engages, or is engaged in lobbying…”. Lobbying is defined as communicating with a”County officer or employee for the purpose of attempting to influence any Legislative action or Administrative action.”  These definitions are modeled after existing legislation in the State and in other Counties.

In short Bill #2614 says if you get paid to influence government, then you must register as a lobbyist and disclose how much money you spend on lobbying.

Bill #2614 also BANS ALL GIFTS from lobbyists to government officials and requires those paid to influence government actions to disclose this fact when they offer testimony to the Council or any government agency.

Bill #2614 also forbids lobbyists from serving on certain Boards and Commissions that deal with the subject matter upon which they lobby and specifically bans them from serving on the Charter Review Commission and the Ethics Commission.  The Bill specifically allows so-called “subject matter experts” who may be lobbyists to present to the various Boards and Commissions, but does not allow them a full-time voting seat at the table.

Because he is chair of the Charter Review Commission (correction – Mr. TenBruggencate is a Member and Former Chair of the Charter Review Commission), it is perhaps this provision that caused Mr. Jan Tenbruggencate a high degree of angst, resulting in him significantly misrepresenting both the facts and the intent of Bill 2614 when he presented his testimony. I will not surmise that he knowingly misrepresented the facts surrounding this legislation and can only believe that he just does not understand both the existing proposed Bill 2614 and the historic legislation with which he repeatedly referred to as a good example of what Kauai County needs.

Mr. Tenbruggencate also seriously mischaracterized the issue of lobbyist registration as primarily dealing with individuals testifying before the council. This component is in fact a very small part of what is traditionally considered lobbying activity. It is the “after hours” lobbying, the lunches, the dinners, the trips, the first-class travel upgrades and the one-on-one meetings behind closed doors that are for the most part invisible to the public eye that deserve full transparency.

The bill is designed to be easy for those who might fall into the definition but may not be full-time lobbyists and do not spend significant funds or time lobbying. The proposed requirements include simply one form to initially register and one form to report the annual money spent on lobbying.

Please see for yourself and read Bill #2614 in its entirety here:

Please also email your testimony for or against, and include any suggested amendments to prior to the upcoming Committee meeting on Wednesday morning February 17th.  It is helpful if you indicate “Bill #2614 and your position (support or oppose)” in the subject line.

While I may propose some modest amendments intended to improve the measures clarity and implementation, I am hopeful that the Bill #2614 will remain strong in spite of the growing opposition from the pro-lobbyist big business voices.

Note: The above was published in The Garden Island newspaper today, Monday February 15, 2016.   As the introducer of this measure and as someone committed to passing a strong lobbyist regulation Bill into law, I am obligated to clarify, to explain and to defend this legislation against misstatements of fact and intent.  Please help by offering your testimony in support of Bill #2614 today and prior to Wednesdays hearing by emailing


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