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
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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

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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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Hooser To Host KKCR “Policy & Politics” Talk Show

Starting this Monday February 13, from 5pm until 6pm I will be joining the hardworking volunteers at KKCR and hosting a regular talk show entitled “Policy & Politics”!

“Policy & Politics” will focus on exploring topics dealing with all levels of government.

My goal for the show is to stimulate, educate and discuss both the nuts and bolts of policy and politics but also how to effectively engage and impact both policy decisions and the political landscape at all levels.

Please tune-in or listen on-line if you can this Monday February 13 from 5pm until 6pm!

KKCR-FM
90.9FM Hanalei, 91.9FM Islandwide, 92.7FM Moloa`a
(I am told reception extends to the Waianae coast and parts of the north shore of Oahu as well)

My plan is to also stream the show live on FaceBook
Go here to listen live online:
http://www.kkcr.org

Mahalo to all the dedicated volunteers at KKCR Kauai Community Radio for allowing me to join your team as a volunteer DJ. I hope to serve you all well and support the community mission of this incredible organization.

KEKAHU FOUNDATON / KKCR MISSION STATEMENT
KKCR is Kaua`i’s independent, non-commercial, listener-supported community radio station. KKCR seeks to:

• Stimulate, educate and entertain our audience
• Preserve, perpetuate and celebrate Hawaiian culture
• Reflect the diversity of the local and world community

KKCR provides a forum for overlooked, suppressed, or under-represented voices and music. The Kekahu Foundation facilitates this broadcasting opportunity.

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Time To Legalize Pot In Hawaii – It’s The Right Thing To Do And Frankly We Need The Money

It’s time now to legalize cannabis for recreational use by adults in Hawaii.

The recreational use of cannabis is already legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C..

It is the right thing to do in terms of public policy, we need the significant tax revenue legalization will generate and it is inevitable that Hawaii will eventually follow the many other states who have already taken the step.

Why are we waiting?  Delaying an action we know will be taken in the coming years achieves nothing while costing our state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Most law-makers are by nature risk adverse and will tackle the big and potentially controversial issues only when pressed by their constituents to do so.

It is time now to press on this particular issue.

Please call or email your individual district Representative and Senator, today (before Wednesday February 15 if at all possible) to express your support for legalization and request a hearing for SB548 and HB1464.

Or, email ALL Representatives and Senators the same message at sens@capitol.hawaii.gov  or reps@capitol.hawaii.gov

Hawaii should move forward now to pass into law HB1464 or SB548 or similar measures that legalizes the growing, use and sale of small amounts of cannabis by adults for recreational use.  We can learn from the experience of states that have gone before us and adopt reasonable policies now to implement this long overdue and much needed public policy change.

Proposed measures to decriminalize the use and possession of small amounts are not enough and though well intended serve only to delay what is really needed – which is full legalization.

It is only through legalization that the fear, stigma and heavy cost of criminalization is avoided.  Only through legalization will the jobs and much needed tax income be created.  Decriminalization is a half step that accomplishes none of this.

Important facts for the skeptics:

  1. Marijuana is not a so-called gateway drug.  “…the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, “harder” substances.”  National Institute on Drug Abuse https://www.drugabuse.gov
  2. Legalization of Cannabis does not lead to an increase in crime. “Since 2009, when the medical marijuana industry in Colorado started to take off, both rates (property crime and violent crime) have fallen—by 3 percent and 6 percent, respectively.” Reason Magazine review of Colorado study
  3. Legalization does not lead to increased use among young people. “Rates of marijuana use among Colorado’s teenagers are essentially unchanged in the years since the state’s voters legalized marijuana in 2012, new survey data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows.”  Washington Post

Every single aspect of government is in need of additional funding and the legalization of cannabis could provide significant funds for schools, natural resource protection, affordable housing and much more.

I suspect a majority in the legislature agree that legalization is the right policy and that the State desperately needs the money and jobs it will generate, but they will only act when the citizen voice is loud and clear and demands action.

We all know this policy shift is inevitable and our state needs the benefits now.

Please call or email your State Representative and Senator today.

Gary Hooser

Kauai County Council 2012 – 2016                                                                                           Hawaii State Senator 2002 – 2010                                                                                            Senate Majority Leader 2006 – 2010

Other Reasons Supporting Legalization from the Drug Policy Alliance http://www.drugpolicy.org/marijuana-legalization-and-regulation

“Like alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s, which was intended to banish certain substances from society, drug prohibition has not only failed its mission but has made its mission impossible.  The failures of prohibition are painfully obvious: wasted money, wasted lives and wasted opportunities.”

Reduce harm                                                                                                                                       The criminalization of marijuana use disproportionately harms young people and people of color, sponsors massive levels of violence and corruption, and fails to curb youth access.

Create jobs                                                                                                                                  Legalizing and regulating marijuana will bring one of the nation’s largest cash crops under the rule of law. This will create jobs and economic opportunities in the formal economy instead of the illicit market.

Save money                                                                                                                                     Scarce law enforcement resources will be better used to ensure public safety while reducing corrections and court costs. State and local governments would acquire significant new sources of tax revenue from regulating marijuana sales.

Promote consumer safety                                                                                                        Marijuana product testing is becoming a standard requirement for legalized marijuana markets. This means consumers are better informed about the marijuana they use.

Drug Policy Alliance

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Hawaii State Senate and House regularly violate the State Constitution – or not?

At the recently held Hawaii Peoples Congress issues with regards to the “accountability of elected officials” was a hot topic of discussion.

The matter of the Maui County Council flaunting the Sunshine Law was discussed.
http://www.mauinews.com/news/local-news/2016/12/another-complaint-is-filed-against-mike-white/

Also discussed at length was how committees in both the House and the Senate often diminished, ignored or actively blocked the publics participation in the law making process. The “Conference Committee” process and the lack of adequate notice for committee hearings were two of the reoccurring themes.

This conversation led to a close review of the state constitution which appears to indicate both the State House and the State Senate are in violation on a regular basis.

What do you think?

Hawaii State Constitution
http://lrbhawaii.org/con/conart3.html
Article III – The Legislature
Organization, Discipline, Rules and Procedure
Section 12.
3d paragraph

“Every meeting of a committee in either house or of a committee comprised of a member or members of both houses held for the purpose of making decision on matters referred to the committee shall be open to the public.”

Given the above requirement it would seem that both the State House and Senate regularly violates the Hawaii State Constitution.

It is common practice that House and Senate Conference Committee members regularly meet in private “for the purpose of making decision on matters referred to the committee”. They meet in private, negotiate in private and agree on the outcomes in private, emerging from the closed private meetings to announce the outcome and then formally vote at the public meeting. This practice seems obviously to violate the Hawaii State Constitution.

It is also far too common a practice for the various committees of the legislature to provide less than 24 hours notice of a committee meeting. Sometimes less than one hour of public notice is provided. The State Constitution states that a committee meeting held for the purpose of making a decision…”shall be open to the public”. It would seem that a meeting held where it is physically impossible for the public to attend due to basic logistics (time to drive or fly to the meeting once notice is received) also violates the Hawaii State Constitution.

I welcome input from readers (and lawyers) on this. Are there any budding young law school students or aspiring public interest lawyers that want to engage this issue?

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Breaking News: EPA files complaint against Syngenta for farmworker safety violations on Kauai

From EPA – HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint alleging that Syngenta Seeds, LLC violated numerous federal pesticide regulations meant to protect agricultural workers at its crop research farm in Kekaha, Kauai. EPA is seeking civil penalties of over $4.8 million for the violations.

On January 20, 2016, 19 workers entered a Syngenta field recently sprayed with a restricted use organophosphate insecticide. Ten of these workers were taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. Restricted use pesticides are not available to the general public because of their high toxicity, potential for harm and impact on the environment.

“Reducing pesticide exposure is a high priority, as it directly affects the health of farmworkers,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is committed to enforcing the federal law that protects those who spend long hours in the fields. We appreciate working with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to respond to this serious incident.”

The company named in the complaint does business as Syngenta Hawaii, LLC., a subsidiary of Syngenta AG, a global enterprise that produces chemicals and seeds. The EPA complaint states that Syngenta misused the pesticide “Lorsban Advanced,” and it failed in its duties to adequately implement the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act’s Worker Protection Standard.

Specifically, EPA alleges that Syngenta failed to notify its workers to avoid fields recently treated with pesticides. The company then allowed or directed workers to enter the treated field before the required waiting period had passed, and without proper personal protective equipment. After the workers’ exposure, Syngenta failed to provide adequate decontamination supplies onsite and failed to provide prompt transportation for emergency medical attention.

An inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture was present at the Syngenta facility when the exposure incident occurred, prompting the State’s immediate investigation. In March, HDOA referred the matter to EPA for follow-up investigation and enforcement. In April, EPA inspectors conducted a series of inspections, which led to the complaint.

The active ingredient in “Lorsban Advanced” is chlorpyrifos, which in small amounts may cause a runny nose, tears, sweating, or headache, nausea and dizziness. More serious exposures can cause vomiting, muscle twitching, tremors and weakness. Sometimes people develop diarrhea or blurred vision. In severe cases, exposure can lead to unconsciousness, loss of bladder and bowel control, convulsions, difficulty in breathing, and paralysis. Symptoms can appear within minutes and may last days or weeks.

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Time For Kauai Council To Put Health Over Profits (actually it is well past time)

The proposed repeal of Ordinance 960 formerly known as Bill 2491 is another indicator of the power and influence the west side chemical companies hold in our community. Because the courts have already invalidated the measure, repealing it serves no useful purpose. This is simply a political power play.

The State/County sponsored Joint Fact Finding (JFF) report did an exhaustive review of existing health and pesticide data which this Council has chosen to ignore.

The data gathered during the JFF process indicate that west side residents suffer from numerous health conditions at higher rates than residents living anywhere else on Kauai.

These health conditions/indicators include: Developmental Delay (3 to 8 year olds), ADHD, Easter Seals Enrollment (age 0 to 3), Infant Mortality, Mothers Pre-Existing Health Conditions, Cancer Mortality, Stroke Mortality, Admissions for Bacterial Pneumonia, COPD or Asthma (elderly), Dialysis Patients (per 1,000) and other disabilities.

These are all conditions or health indicators in which the incidence of occurrence by people living on the west side exceed all other Kauai communities.

To be clear we are dealing with small numbers, statistical significance is thus impossible to determine with any certainty and the cause of these elevated rates has not been determined.

This is why it is so important that the Council support the recommendations put forward by the JFF. These recommendations are very similar to what is contained in Ordinance 960 which Council Chair Rapozo and Vice Chair Kagawa are proposing to repeal.

Repealing this ordinance does not provide closure or help at all.

Closure will only occur when the chemical companies fully disclose their pesticide usage, agree to reasonable buffer zones around schools, hospitals, homes and other sensitive areas, and the comprehensive testing of soil, air and water as has been recommended by the State/County JFF report is conducted.

Please offer your testimony (thoughts, ideas, suggestions, feelings) on proposed Draft Bill 2643 in person or via email at counciltestimony@kauai.gov today Wednesday December 14th.

Please ask the Council to set aside the repeal and instead step up to the plate and lend their voice in strong support of the JFF report.

The voice of the community must be stronger than the voices of Syngenta, Dow Chemical, Dupont and BASF. These companies have continued to resist any attempts at increased regulation.

Ordinance 960 simply required disclosure, modest buffer zones and a study of the industry impacts on the health of our citizens. Rather than comply the companies took us to court.

18 months ago the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that glyphosate which is the active ingredient in RoundUp “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Today these companies continue to refuse to disclose the amount of glyphosate used on Kauai. A simple disclosure request of a chemical the companies insist is safe, and yet they refuse to comply.

Syngenta – which is applying pesticides on Kauai’s west side that are banned in their home country of Switzerland – is presently under federal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to protect its field workers who were hospitalized for exposure to chlorpyrifos a known neurotoxin – widely used on Kauai.

The science is clear. The pesticides and chemicals used by these companies are dangerous; harm at varying degrees is occurring to health and the environment.

The actual degree of harm as a result of both short term and long term exposure has yet to be determined and these companies will do anything in their power to prevent full disclosure and the appropriate testing and studies.

The Joint Fact Finding Group which was sponsored by both the State and the County after extended discussions and review of existing research, issued comprehensive recommendations intended to help move us move forward.

The next step is up to us. Ask the Council today to show they care more about the health of the people on the west side than they do the profits of the 4 largest chemical companies in the world.

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Losing a friend, an election, a court case and the presidency – What’s next?

Aloha,
It has been a rough few weeks. On November 8th Donald Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States and I was defeated in my bid for re-election to the Kauai County Council.

Then on November 18th the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals announced their decision invalidating Bill 2491/Ordinance 960. Also on this same day within hours of that announcement my dear friend and colleague Tim Bynum passed away. Tim was the co-introducer of Bill 2491 and fortunately was unaware of the court decision at the time when he last closed his eyes.

Each incident was like a gut punch. Each seemed impossible to fathom or understand at the time it happened and each has made me more determined than ever.

The chemical companies will rue the day they took on this battle with our community.

This is one of our many Standing Rocks — where corporate power and profit collide with indigenous rights, the rights of communities to determine their future, and people’s determination to protect their land and water.

It would have been much easier for them and for our community if they simply would have accepted the modest provisions contained in Bill 2491 – Disclose to us your pesticide usage, don’t spray next to schools, hospitals and homes and let us do a comprehensive study to determine health impacts on our community.

But instead they have fought us every step of the way.

For the record, I do not support any activities that are illegal or cause physical harm to people or property. However, it is a given that there will be more law suits, more marches, more direct action, more letters to the editor and more people packing the halls of government waiting to testify.

The focus now will be on the Governor and the Hawaii State Legislature to put into place the necessary regulations and conduct the needed testing and studies. Broad-based community actions are being planned now to ensure that message is delivered convincingly, consistently and with impact.

Please help by signing this petition demanding Governor Ige act now: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/demand-the-state-of-hawaii-act-now-to-protect-the-people
My personal commitment to pushing back against the chemical companies is stronger now than ever before. Later this month I return on a personal trip to Basel Switzerland, home of Syngenta. I will continue to work with MultiWatch, a Swiss organization committed to ending Syngenta’s practices in Hawaii that are illegal to conduct in their home country.

This 4 minute video of my remarks to Syngenta Shareholders will help you better understand our situation with this particular chemical company.

What 2017 and beyond will look like for me is still taking shape.

I have the freedom today to make new choices, unfettered in a sense from the bindings of elective office. #hooserunleashed 😉

In addition to persisting in my work to protect people and environment from the chemical companies, I also am committed to helping organize and build a broader movement in Hawaii in support of a progressive agenda grounded in social, economic and environmental justice.

As its volunteer Board President, the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) and mission to “catalyze change and empower communities” will receive my full time attention. http://www.hapahi.org

H.A.P.A. is a strong and vibrant organization and among many other activities is presently supporting two potentially game-changing initiatives:

The Kuleana Academy – A program whose mission is to identify, recruit and train the next generation of grassroots leaders – http://www.hapahi.org/kuleana-academy/

The Hawaii Peoples Congress – A powerful new coalition that will advocate for tangible policies that address wealth inequality, excessive corporate influence and environmental degradation.- http://www.peoplescongresshi.org

However, we/I need more.

H.A.P.A. is a 501c3 nonprofit whose tax exempt status does not allow it to become involved in the full-throated political and policy actions that I strongly believe are needed now. If we are to achieve the bold change required to push back against the growing institutional and corporate powers now in place, we need to step up our game with regards to both policy advocacy and political action.

So while H.A.P.A. can educate, inform and organize which are critical components in the foundation needed for change to happen, other organizations must step up to carry the ball further and more aggressively down the field.

One option is to create and lead such an entity. This could be a 501c4 or otherwise legally structured entity that could engage aggressively in both political and policy advocacy. This would allow me to utilize and leverage the experience and networks I have gained over the years to advocate for progressive public policy while supporting symbiotic community based political action springing up now on all islands.

Another option that remains even now an unresolved thought continuously swirling in my brain, centers on my potential future in public office.

Whether or not my recent loss is the last and final election campaign of my life is a question that I ask myself daily. Serving in elective office, though challenging and somewhat stressful at times, has been incredibly fulfilling.

Future political options primarily revolve around the 2018 election cycle however sometimes “things happen” in mid cycle that create opportunities for appointments and/or special elections.

A potentially YUGE wrinkle in Hawaii’s political landscape is the rumor of U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard leaving her CD2 seat early for a job in the Trump administration. The CD2 is composed of the neighbor-islands (2/3) and rural Oahu (1/3).

Should this happen, a “winner take all” special election will occur giving candidates possibly only 4 months to organize and run a campaign on all islands. Candidates with existing name recognition and established statewide networks would have a clear off the blocks advantage.

Lot’s of choices.

Frankly I want to do it all.

Mahalo to all for your friendship, support and the kind and generous words many have written to me over the past few weeks.

Imua!
Gary Hooser

Please join us in Honolulu this weekend, December 3 & 4, for two days of panels, workshops and speakers that will prepare us to launch the People’s Agenda for real change!

Tim Bynum – Celebration of Life
December 16th, 4:30pm Lydgate Beach Park, Main Pavilion

Article in The Garden Island about a true leader and a dear friend, Councilmember Tim Bynum:
http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/tim-bynum-former-councilmember-dies-at/article_2ccab09d-4bf9-5ad5-8adf-cadfcc678c2f.html

My thoughts regarding the 9th Circuit issue:
‘It’s Time To Visit The Governor”
https://garyhooser.wordpress.com/2016/11/19/it-is-time-to-visit-the-governor/

9th Circuit Court decision regarding Ordinance 960:
https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2016/11/18/14-16833.pdf

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