Friday, May 23, 2008

Members in the News

Rep. James Kunane Tokioka provided an overview of the 2008 legislative session to the Lihue Business Association with Senator Gary Hooser. Here's the story in the Kauai Garden Island.

Rep. Jerry Chang talked about the importance of HB2978, a bill that provides a funding formula for the University of Hawaii system, today in the Hawaii Tribune Herald.

"In the past, the UH-Manoa campus has pretty much taken the bulk of the funding. Whether UHH grows or not, the funding stays level or decreases," said Rep. Jerry Chang (D-Hilo, Waiakea, Kaumana, Keaukaha), the bill's author. "Having a funding formula is a good step to ensure that funding allocation is fair throughout the entire system."

Rep. Ken Ito, Rep. Clift Tsuji, Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu and Rep. Pono Chong signed the letter to the editor below, which was published today in The Honolulu Advertiser. It's on SB2646, the Important Agricultural Lands bill.

Tough controls are in important ag lands bill

The Advertiser's editorial position on the Important Agricultural Lands bill fails to recognize two major issues.
The first is that it has been 30 years since the people of Hawai'i amended the state Constitution to mandate the conservation of productive agricultural lands.
If we wait until we get the perfect bill, with no compromise among the stakeholders, farmers will become a dying breed in Hawai'i.
Little has been done in the past 30 years to get our best lands growing food and renewable energy fuel sources. Look at what is happening around the world in terms of food shortages and starvation. The time to get our agricultural lands producing again was yesterday, not in another 30 years.
The second point is that the regulatory controls in this bill are extensive, and they are tough. There is no free ride for urban development.
The bill does not provide for automatic reclassification of the 15 percent to urban, rural or conservation.
In addition, a party other than the landowner may petition the state for a contested case hearing, which is open and evidentiary. The Land Use Commission has the discretion to grant or deny in both instances.
The Hawaii Farm Bureau, the Maui County Farm Bureau, the Hawaii Cattlemen's Council, the dean of the University of Hawai'i-Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and the state Department of Agriculture and the Land Use Research Foundation testified on behalf of the bill.

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