As you may have heard by now, unfortunately a majority in the House and Senate voted to pass HB499CD1.
The good news is that there was an actual public vote so legislators had to openly declare whose side they are on.
The below 24 legislators deserve our deepest appreciation for making the right choice. Please send an email of thanks to these friends in the House and Senate who voted No on HB499CD1.
15 Representative(s) DeCoite, Eli, Ganaden, Gates, Har, Hashem, Kapela, D. Kobayashi, Kong, LoPresti, McKelvey, Perruso, Takumi, Tam, Wildberger – voted No.
All Representative Contact Info is here.
9 Senator(s) Acasio, Fevella, Ihara, Keohokalole, Kim, Nishihara, Rhoads, Riviere, Shimabukuro – voted No.
All Senator Contact Info is here.
For those who are wondering what the magic number is, it’s 26 votes in the House and 13 votes in the Senate. That’s what it takes to pass or kill a bill. So we were 11 votes short in the House and 4 votes short in the Senate.
Any legislator not on the above list cast a vote in the affirmative and chose to side with development and business interests over environmental and public trust protections.
This is democracy at work. Unlike so many other bills that are decided without public votes, at least with HB499CD1, constituents now know clearly where their Senator and Representative stand on this issue.
I am sure that each of the Yes voting legislators will have their justification arguments figured out by now.
Please do not accept the excuse by legislators who purport to be “friends of the environment” or “progressives” and yet chose to straddle this issue with a WR (a yes vote but “with reservations”).
To be clear – these indivuals let us down. Big time.
If 4 of the WR’s in the Senate had voted No instead of WR, HB499CD1 would have died.
On one side you have champions of the environment and public trust lands opposing HB499CD1. On the other, you have development and big business in support.
Leading the charge in opposition testimony is the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). Also offering testimony in opposition and signatories of a collaborative letter urging legislators to vote NO are:
The Sierra Club of Hawaii, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, EarthJustice, Conservation Council for Hawaii, KAHEA: The Hawaiian- Environmental Alliance, Kanaeokana, ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures, Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi Kōmike Kalaiʻāina, Nā Kiaʻi Mauna Kea Hui, Pono Hawaiʻi Initiative, Kai Palaoa, King Kamehameha Hawaiian Civic Club, Na Kupuna Moku o Keawe, Dr. Jon Osorio, ʻĪlioʻulaokalani Coalition, Real Food Generation, Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action, Kūpuna for the Moʻopuna, Malu ʻĀina, Waialua Hawaiian Civic Club, Aloha ʻĀina Legal Group, James “Sparky” Rodrigues, Hawaiian Affairs Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, West Maui Preservation Association, Mauna Kea Moku Nui ʻAelike/ Consensus Building ʻOhana, Nanaikapono Hawaiian Civic Club, Aloha ‘Āina Life and Education Center, Law Office of Aaron K. Wills, Oʻahu Council of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Kupuʻāina Coalition, Kahuku Community Association, Temple of Lono, Kū Kiaʻi Kahuku, ‘Ohana Ho’opakele, Pratt Law Hawaiʻi LLC, Edward Halealoha Ayau . Hundreds of individuals also testified in opposition.
On the other side, a review of the public testimony, indicates HB499CD1 was supported by primarily 4 entities: The Department of Land and Natural Resources; Prince Kuhio Plaza; Pacific Resource Partnership; and Stanford Carr Development, LLC.
So yes, the lines drawn are pretty clear.
HB499CD1 is being framed by its supporters as being about the small leaseholder, the veterinarian, the produce store, and the long time mom and pop enterprise built on leased lands. This argument is simply a smoke screen shielding the bigger players.
It’s called “rent seeking” and it’s how big business increase their balance sheet purely via the passage of legislation such as HB499CD1.
I encourage all who believe that this legislation is about “helping the little guy” to read the testimony. You will not find a long line of little guys sending in testimony in support. Instead, you will find major players in the development world who understand Real Estate #101 – The longer the lease the more valuable the asset.
Bills such as HB499CD1 do not happen by accident. Someone asked the primary introducer, Big Island Representative David Tarnas to introduce it and provided the initial language. This is how things work at the legislature. Usually a lobbyist, advocacy group, and or other representative of an “impacted entity” will approach “leadership” and/or their favorite legislator and request a specific bill be introduced.
This is the fundamental question that must be asked. Who is behind this? Where did it come from? On whose bequest did Representative Tarnas introduce it ?
Anyone who says HB499CD1 is being driven by small leaseholders and mom and pop businesses is either extremely naive or blatantly disingenuous.
In the area of construction and development advocacy, the Pacific Resource Partnership is without question the most influential organization in the State of Hawaii. They do what they are paid to do and they do it well – but they don’t work for produce stores, veterinarians or mom and pop stores.
My hope is that you will first and foremost contact all of the legislators listed above and thank them for standing strong and voting NO on HB499CD1.
I would ask also that you make the effort to determine how your own district Representative and Senator voted and acknowledge them appropriately as well. It is critically important for the long game, that your legislators know you are paying attention and following their votes and actions. Enter your address to Find Your Legislator.
While we lost on this vote, we now know who we can count on when it comes to issues pertaining to land use and the environment. As the 2022 election cycle draws closer, this information will be important.
To all who took the time to, identify their district legislators, and to send the email and make the calls encouraging a No vote on HB499CD1 – please know that your action made a difference. While we did not win this particular round, your actions made a huge impact.
Pono Hawaii Initiative
*Stay tuned for updates on reaching out to the governor to request a veto on HB499CD1.
Join with friends in solidarity on May 1 – march and rally in Kalihi and celebrate International Workers Day and the one-year anniversary of the Hawaii Workers Center! March begins from Kalihi District Park (Kam IV Rd) at 10 am and ends at the Towers of Kuhio Park for an 11 am rally! Sponsored by the Coalition to Defend and Respect Hawai’i’s Workers. Watch this fun 60 second promo video and help spread the word!
Sign up for free online organizer training. Please join me and many others and be trained in the art and science of community organizing. Deadline to apply is May 3. Information is contained here (scroll down and see links mid-way in this past email.