We won. HB1326 HD2 (corporate water theft bill) is dead. At least for now. 13 members of the Senate or 26 members of the House could revive it if they choose (to their political peril I believe), but for now it is dead.
Yesterday afternoon at 4pm at the Hawaii state capitol, myself and many others witnessed an extraordinary event.
A joint committee hearing for “decision making” was held at this time on HB1326 HD2 led by Senator Kai Kahele, Chair of the Committee on Water and Land, joined by Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means.
I have attended and participated in countless committee hearings over the past 20 years, rare indeed are the times when the Chair of the Committee is willing to publicly speak truth to power.
Senator Kahele not only spoke the truth and acknowledged that HB1326 HD2 was special interest legislation, but he did so directly to that special interest (Alexander & Baldwin) in a public forum. He then introduced an amendment deleting them from the bill, and asked his Senate colleagues on the committee to take a public vote and declare their position as well.
It was a wow moment, and Senator Kahele handled it with grace, professionalism and a fierce intensity. After 30 minutes or so of discussion the vote was called.
The vote was 3 to 2 in support of the amendment.
Senator Kahele was joined by Senator Clarence Nishihara, who after a very long and very pregnant pause, voted yes. Senator Gil Riviere who has been a champion on this issue, also spoke powerfully against the special interest nature of HB1326 HD2 and then voted “WR”, which expresses some reservations but is counted as a yes vote.
Senator Gil Keith-Agaran and Senator Kurt Fevella voted in opposition.
All eyes then turned to Senator Donovan Dela Cruz who immediately called a recess and behind the scenes counted his votes, and evaluated his options. Minutes later he called his committee to order and promptly announced that his decision was to “defer indefinitely”.
This effectively kills HB1326 HD2, as in order to stay alive both of these committees must vote in the affirmative on the same motion. Water Land voted to amend the bill deleting its application to A&B (and other amendments), and Ways and Means chose to defer indefinitely.
Consequently there is no agreement between the two committees, the bill cannot move forward and thus is dead.
You can be sure that those with money and power will be working overtime to reverse what happened last night. We must remain vigilant and keep the light shining bright to expose the shenanigans that will be in play over the coming days as these forces seek to bend the rules and process, to their benefit. $62,000,000 is a whole lot of money. It is understandable that A&B is not happy with this outcome and that those who carry their water in the legislature, will be working over-time to save them this money.
Mahalo to all who have taken the time to call and email legislators, and especially to those who have been able to show up in person to testify. Without question, it is because of all of your efforts, that we have been able to pull back the curtain to expose the reality of HB1326 HD2, and stop it in its tracks.
Please take the next step and express your appreciation to:
Senator Kahele firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Nishihara email@example.com
Senator Riviere firstname.lastname@example.org
In solidarity and with great appreciation to all who helped get us this far,
Gary Hooser http://www.garyhooser.com
Excellent article in Civil Beat offering further background and info can be read HERE:
More background in my blog (scroll down to read about this ongoing saga): https://www.garyhooser.blog
Also check out “Wai For All – Free the Streams”