Guest Post: Hooser says your testimony could help advance bills to improve the lives of many in Hawaiʻi

Gary Hooser. Executive Director, Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI). He has previously served as the Majority Leader of the Hawaiʻi Senate and more recently founded the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action.

Standing watch at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol: What would St. Damien do? He must surely hope you will make your voice heard on several bills that could help improve the lives of families, friends, neighbors.

It’s time to rock and roll my friends.
Important bills are being scheduled at the legislature and your testimony, both in person and via email, is important.  Trust me on this.  While some think that just a little ol’ email won’t make a difference, it does and it will – but only if you take the time–a few minutes– to send it off.

If you have not yet completed the Issue Survey, please do so ASAP, prior to January 31st!

The 5 issues below have not yet been scheduled but I encourage you to become familiar with and support them in the future.  Scroll further down to see 4 very important measures that are being heard in the next few days and need your immediate attention and support

  1. Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) – This straightforward measure has the potential to both improve voter turnout, increase election security and save the state money.  It is a no-brainer IMHO.  Please read my recent blog piece “Automatic Voter Registration – save money and improve access to voting” .  HB4 is a good bill to watch for now, but has not yet been scheduled.
  2. Audit the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC).  The ADC manages over 22,000 acres of publicly owned agricultural lands yet they have no mandate to actually produce food for local consumption, nor are their financial transactions held to the same level of transparency as regular state agencies.  Watch SB482 and HB871
  3. Increase enforcement actions and penalties for pesticide drift.  At the present time, the State of Hawaiʻi’s efforts at enforcing incidents of pesticide drift are lackluster at best.  HB929 is the one to watch.
  4. Ban the use of herbicides on all public school groundsHB872
  5. Increasing the minimum wage in Hawaiʻi to $17 per hour, phased in over 4 years and including an automatic annual cost of living increases.  Several bills have been introduced on this topic but none have yet been scheduled for a hearing.  SB476 and HB727 both accomplish this.

Check out – “Living Wage Legislation – radical, leftist concept or essential, centrist thinking”

The following four important measures have been scheduled, and hearings will be held in the next few days.  Please consider testifying in support!

HB557 RELATING TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY 
Its purpose is to amend the criteria for granting a solar water heater system variance. The hearing notice is HERE.
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday January 29th at 8:30am at the State Capitol in Conference Room 325.

Why support HB557? Current state law requires all newly constructed single family homes to install a solar hot water system. When the law was first passed, a provision was included that allowed for exceptions in areas where solar systems were not practical (way back in the mountains perhaps where there is constant cloud cover).  HB557 is a reasonable measure that closes a loophole that has been abused ever since this original law was passed. It goes without saying that solar hot water heaters use zero carbon based fossil fuel, while all other options are fossil fuel-based.

SB375 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE. 
Its purpose is to require the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Office of the Governor, to develop a strategic plan to double local food production and increase food exports by 2020. The hearing notice is HERE.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday January 30th at 1:15pm at the State Capitol in Conference Room 224.

IMPORTANT – OAHU RESIDENTS ONLY
Honolulu City Council
Resolution #19-1 asking the State Legislature to make Hawaiʻi’s minimum wage a living wage.Hearing will be held and testimony is needed by Wednesday January 30th at 10am.  Go here to submit testimony online! 
The full agenda is HERE:

SB686 RELATING TO MARIJUANA.
Its purpose is to legalize the personal use, possession, and sale of marijuana
The hearing notice is HERE. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday January 31st at 9am at the State Capitol in Conference Room 016.

Why support SB686? This measure is long, long overdue.  Eleven other states have legalized it already. With a well-established medicinal program already in place, and the ability to learn from the experiences of other states who have already legalized it – the time is now. It is the right thing to do, plus we need the income that will be generated.

New to the process?  Testimony basics for State measures:

  1. Go to the Hawaii State Legislature website
  2. Sign In (top right hand corner)
  3. Submit Testimony (left center on page)
  4. Enter Bill or Measure (left toward top)
  5. Click “Continue” and the rest is self-explanatory

This website provides a wealth of information. Please explore it if you can.

If you have read this far, I thank you. Please know that your participation and your testimony is vitally important to the passage of the above measures.

Please also know, that yes…funds are indeed needed so that we can continue the work, especially during the coming four months and the legislative session.  If you are able to contribute any amount, whether $20 or $200 – now would be a good time to help.  As always new contributors of any amount are most welcome.  You may contribute securely via credit or debit card HERE. Due to the political nature of our work, contributions to Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) are NOT tax deductible.

People-power helped make the nation’s first ban on chlorpyrifos a reality in Hawaii in 2018. Now the Hawaiʻi law is a model for other bills that seek to do the same nationally. Your testimony matters.

Thank you in advance for your help and support!   Together, working hard and pushing all the way through until the end of the legislative session – we can improve the lives of our residents, friends and neighbors, AND we can set an example for all as to how democracy is supposed to work.

Best,
Gary Hooser
Executive Director
Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI)

Posted in I BLOG, Justice, Politics and Religion, Uncategorized

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