Published in The Maui News, Nov. 2, 2014
By GLADYS C. BAISA , for The Maui News
On Friday, the County Council will consider approving two state bills for inclusion in the 2015 Maui County Legislative Package, as recommended by the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.
The first bill would authorize expanded industrial hemp research at four testing sites – one in each county. While industrial hemp is already being tested as a phytoremediator and biofuel, the proposed measure would authorize additional research on the plant as oil for human and livestock consumption, and fiber for clothing and building materials.
The second bill would amend the state’s Sunshine Law to allow all members of a county council to jointly attend and speak at a community, educational or informational meeting or presentation.
Current law limits the number of council members who may attend a meeting. The legislation would promote greater transparency in county government and ease of accessibility to all council members who wish to attend community meetings.
The PIA Committee also recommended four state bills to be included in the 2015 Hawaii State Association of Counties Legislative Package. Proposals before the council attach the following bills:
- A bill to appropriate funds for the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Primary Care Training Program
- A bill to allow victims of family violence additional time to get help and legal protection before the order for period of separation expires.
- A bill to authorize nonresident property crime victims to testify in criminal proceedings via video connection.
- A bill relating to zoning to distinguish single-family residential use from single-family vacation rental use.
Bills to be included in the HSAC package require approval from all four Hawaii counties.
The council has already approved for inclusion in the HSAC package another bill concerning the counties’ share of the transient accommodations tax revenue.
During the 2014 legislative session the counties exhibited a unified front, demanding a fair share of the TAT, or hotel room tax. Out of the $72 million the counties deserve, state legislators lifted the TAT cap by a mere $10 million.
TAT revenue is vital to the counties to help offset the visitor industry’s tremendous impact on county services, such as parks, beaches, water, roads, sewage systems and other infrastructure.
In other matters, the council will consider approving a resolution, recommended by the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, to accept the grant of a lease for an outdoor shower on a 100-square-foot parcel owned by Heavenly Hana LLC.
The shower, adjoining Hamoa Beach in Hana, had been heavily used by residents and visitors prior to its closure in 2012 because of high maintenance costs.
The administration said the county will work with Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, Inc., a local nonprofit organization for at-risk youth, to repair and maintain the shower.
A hui hou.
* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council’s Pukalani-Kula-Ulupalakua area residency seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.