The legislative session is in full swing and several of my initiatives are moving forward. All of the following bills cleared their first committee and are now referred to Ways and Means. Should they pass out of this committee, they will likely be approved by the Senate and then move over to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
SB2512 Desertion of Animals.To reduce feral animal populations, this law sets the penalty for animal abandonment at $1000, or $2000 if the animal suffers death or substantial bodily harm.
SB2513 Pesticide Inspectors.Improves oversight and enforcement on Oahu by adding three new pesticide inspectors to the Department of Agriculture
SB2743 Taro Farming.Designates taro production as a state objective and provides incentives.
SB2973 Hawaiian Fishponds.Provides tax incentives for sea food production in fishponds.
SB3065 Kaena Point.Creates a guide/interpretive position to increase public education and oversight of the natural area reserve, and adds five DOCARE enforcement positions.
SB3067 Oceanfront Purchaser Statement.Requires a purchaser or transferee of oceanfront property to acknowledge natural hazard risks of beachfront ownership.
SB3068 Dole Lands Acquisition.Authorizes purchase of Dole agricultural lands currently farmed by the Waialua Farmers Coop.
My opposition to the following bills is not related to the merit of the initiatives, but rather to the tax increases to pay for them. I do not agree that we should increase taxes for every good idea. Last year, the legislature approved an extension of the rail tax. These proposals would move our GET rate up to 6.0%. Remember that out current GE Tax has the equivalent economic impact of a 12-14% sales tax because nearly everything is taxed, unlike the sales tax in other states.
SB2478 Long Term Care.Increases the GET by 0.5 % to pay $70 per day, for a maximum 365 days, for home care health providers.
SB2586 Education Omnibus Bill.Increases the GET rate by one percent to fund a dozen educational initiatives proposed by the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
SB2599 GET Increase.Increases the GET rate by one percent to fund educational initiatives.
I am also strongly opposed to SB 3001, which is designed to defeat the legal process for water rights in Maui. After decades of dispute and 15 years of temporary permits, the court recently ruled that Alexander and Baldwin (A&B) could no longer continue to take water from the East Maui Irrigation System without completing the long term permitting process.
SB3001 would grant A&B indefinite approval to all the water they ever used, even though they are closing down the plantation and have not yet developed a plan for their 35,000 acres. Sugar requires nearly twice as much water as diversified agriculture. There should be plenty of water to restore stream flow as required by Hawaii’s Public Trust Doctrine, while providing ample water resources for diversified agriculture. It is disappointing that A&B has fought the water permit process all these years and continues to demand nearly all the water, rather than share it with east Maui residents and farmers.