SB2491 has been deferred until September 9th when a meeting of the Economic Development Committee of the Kauai County Council will hold its second hearing. This is confirmed and will not change. The exact time and location will be announced within 6 days of the actual hearing date but the hearing will be held.
After a full day of what I believe was useful and very enlightening testimony by numerous very qualified individuals, I requested that the committee schedule its next meeting on or about August 19th to continue the process of gathering information, evaluating the Bill and perhaps work on any amendments that might be necessary.
Co-introducer Council member Tim Bynum spoke in support of my request but is not a member of the committee and thus could not vote at this meeting. Vice-Chair of the Committee JoAnn Yukimura and the other non-committee member Council Chair Furfaro were both unable to remain until the end of the meeting due to other pressing matters and did not participate in the final discussion.
In response to my request, Council member Kagawa supported by Council member Nakamura expressed their strong reservations about the legal viability of Bill 2491 and suggested the process be put on hold for at least 60 days pending a final legal opinion from the County Attorney and an opinion from the State Attorney General.
I argued against the suggestion put forth by my two Council colleagues and suggested that we keep working on the measure with an intention of improving and strengthening both its legal and its substantive merits.
In my opinion, successful requests for extended deferrals awaiting legal opinions or perhaps pending some amorphus study or round table discussion will in effect “kill the Bill by deferral”.
Council member Rapozo also expressed his reservations about the possibility of legal challenge and suggested that we compromise with a 30 day deferral. I agreed to this suggestion but indicated my support was conditioned upon the members returning on September 9 prepared to vote up or down. While my request is not binding on the members, Council member Kagawa indicated after the meeting that he would commit to voting on September 9. A committee vote on September 9 regardless of outcome will ensure that Bill 2491 moves to the full council where every member may participate and vote on the final version of the measure.
The fundamental legal issues have not changed since the Bill was originally introduced. Numerous lawyers from local, statewide and national law firms have reviewed Bill 2491 and found it to be legally sound. The agrochemical company attorneys whose job is to protect the interests of their employers and who are backed by unlimited resources are threatening to sue the County should we pass the Bill.
Bill 2491 contains basic and modest provisions designed to increase environmental and health protections while having minimal negative impacts on industry. We are now being threatened by these companies who continue to oppose every single provision.
That these companies would threaten to take the County to court to fight for their right to spray toxic chemicals next to schools and hospitals is an indication of their corporate values and represents the mindset underlying every decision they make. Why do they do it? Because they can.
I learned about bullies in high school. You first try to reason with them; perhaps gain their friendship and respect. Then you try your best to ignore them and stay out of their way. But when they push you, you push them back. Pretty soon they stop pushing.
The fundamental premise of Bill 2491 has not changed: The people of Kauai are concerned about the excessive application of highly toxic restricted use pesticides and the related agricultural practices conducted by the agrochemical companies. There is tangible and scientific evidence that supports these concerns. It is the duty and obligation of the Kauai County Council to take proactive meaningful action.
I will continue to request that my colleagues allow the process to continue to a final vote of the full council.
As a result of the ongoing review and public discussion amendments will likely be introduced to narrow the focus in some areas, to clarify definitions and to resolve various issues and concerns that have been brought forth.
This is a customary and natural part of the process. Killing a Bill based on legal technicalities prior to making a good faith effort to resolve those concerns, is essentially a statement of nonsupport for the underlying substance and intent. I understand this and acknowledge the rights of individuals not to share my particular point of view, but I am asking that this conversation be allowed to occur and the public process be allowed to proceed.
This is an important issue. At the end of the day each council member should be allowed to cast a public vote, yes or no on the passage of Bill 2491.
*Note – I will not allow comments that disparage anyone. Please keep all comments respectful. I believe that individuals can look at the same issue and see things differently. Please honor that belief.