Your Views for February 27


Support ‘home rule’

I would like to call your attention to a bill before the Legislature that would have a severe impact on the home rule authority of all the counties. I believe this bill shows a disregard for the counties and their citizens by removing any participation and voice in the use of agricultural zoned lands.

This is bill SB2777, and its companion bill is HB2467.

The title of SB2777 is simply “Relating to Agriculture.” Its description states that it clarifies that land uses described in Section 205-5, HRS, relating to agricultural lands, shall be permitted without further limitations or restrictions.

What will this mean if passed?

:Shall be permitted without further limitations or restrictions”: SB2777 in effect says all agricultural uses of agricultural land described within HRS 205-2 shall be allowed without any restrictions from county governments (or anyone.) This will be the impact of this bill.

The passage of this bill would eliminate the home rule authority of counties and wipe out county ordinances passed recently by Hawaii County, as well as Kauai.

This includes ordinances passed that:

— ban fracking;

— create controls on GMO;

— restrict geothermal drilling to daytime hours.

It is sad to note that all Kauai required in its GMO ordinance supported by well over 1,200 marchers were two requirements. One was reporting what chemicals were being used for GMO testing, and the other was where the testing was being conducted.

The passage of this bill would change state land use regulations that the county governments have followed for decades by taking away home rule authority on agricultural lands. This bill would remove county government authority to change any agricultural use defined in HRS 205-2.

Here are reasons I believe this bill should not pass:

— Surely county and state laws that provide a process to allow the affected community and county governments an opportunity for participation in the use of land are of importance and must be protected.

— Surely the use of lands must be balanced with responsibilities to cultural and spiritual care of Hawaii.

— Surely lifestyles are of importance and must be considered in the use of land.

I ask for your awareness and involvement on issues that affect your home and lifestyle. Regardless of your position, please submit your testimony on these issues to the Legislature.

Please join me in submitting testimony on SB2777 immediately, as it is being heard Thursday, Feb. 27, at 1:30 p.m. by three Senate committees meeting jointly. You can find information on the Legislature’s website, http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov. Testimony can be faxed, emailed, or submitted online.

I ask for understanding that the issue is not only on the authority and use of the lands, this is about a hope that our government is an extension of the people and not only for special interests. We must pass laws that include participation of the community rather than excludes them. A line must be drawn to say “Stop,” and we must refocus on our responsibilities for social, environmental and spiritual care. Thank you.

Harry Kim

Former Hawaii County mayor

 

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