Legislative and Resolution Updates

At this time in the Legislative session, only a few hundred of the thousands of measures introduced in January are still in consideration. Should these bills pass out of their final committees, they will likely need to survive the infamous conference committee to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions before being sent up to the Governor.


Three measures I introduced are still in play. SB 3329 will improve and conform Hawaii's statutes with the national uniform standards on SLAPP lawsuits. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation are used as a tool to suppress opposition to proposed projects or public discussions. They can have a chilling effect on free speech and reduce participation in the public forum.


We are helping improve the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement policies and standards through SB 3019, and we will conduct a carrying capacity study for the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District with SB 3330.


This is also the point in the session when the Legislature considers resolutions in support of assorted issues or to encourage action by various departments and agencies. Six of my resolutions are looking good for passage out of the Senate.


SCR 200 calls on the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the US Army to complete a land transfer of 87 acres at Kawaihapai Airfield and Army Beach that was approved 30 years ago. This transfer was approved by Congress in the Defense Appropriations Act of 1991 and moved slowly forward until about 2005, but it was never completed. It is time to repatriate the land and recommit to the future of the airfield.


One of the hard lessons from the Na Pua Makani wind project approval process is that the Department of Planning and Permitting illegally granted a waiver of the setback ordinance and allowed two wind turbines to be built too close to the property line - without any public notice. The approval letter stated that objections must be filed within 30 days; however, there was no public disclosure of the application for waiver or its approval. The paperwork was quietly filed away. SCR 204 calls on DPP to establish a process to publicly disclosure waivers and variances.


Stream maintenance, or lack of it, is a major, unresolved concern. In recent years, we have seen the massive Hanalei flood and flooding events in Haleiwa, Hauula, Waiahole, East Honolulu, and other communities. The biggest challenge to stream maintenance, after cost, is the policy that each property owner along a stream is responsible for their specific portion; therefore, nobody is responsible for the entire stream. SCR 199 seeks to implement a study of the Waiahole Stream watershed and jurisdictional challenges, and help identify an effective maintenance plan, and also serve as a model for maintaining watersheds around the state.


SCR 205 calls for a study of commercial activity, legal and illegal, on Kaneohe Bay; SCR 203 encourages educational programs for limu kala in this Year of Limu; and SCR 201 calls on the Army Corps of Engineers to better coordinate with the state on coral protection.


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