It was one of those early morning flights to Oahu, I was up since dawn getting all my final packing done for our four-day extravaganza with my Ag. Leadership Foundation Class XVI group. After my catnap on the small plane, I woke up to the buzzing of my phone…yup, I was already there on Oahu and my pickup car was texting. I quickly greeted my cohorts secured my luggage in the trunk of the car and off we went. It took some coordinating to maneuver through the traffic jam to get all 16 of us to our first destination.
Whew we did it, even found parking. First stop was at Kamehameha Schools Business Center, our class greeted each other than gathered ourselves along with KS Staff for the “Morning Wahie” a daily event, our class was introduced and were also recognized by islands. We were greeted with a warm Welcome, and an Oli, followed by a Mele and opened our day with Pule. What a perfect way to begin our day and kick off Seminar 4 on Oahu. More formal introductions occurred upstairs in our conference room where instruction was received, and breakfast was served. Thank you Dana.
Our first presenter was our cohort Jamie Barton, she shared with us her family’s history and how her parents had sailed to Hawaii to enjoy the beauty of the islands and were able to experience Island living at its best upon the oceans highways. Jamie shared with us her passion for “No-Till Farming” in agriculture. A concept of not disturbing the carbon and microbes found in the soil and using cover crops to provide needed amendments in the soil. I found this to be interesting, farm equipment ne eded to be invented to flatten the cover crop and allow the desired plants to be planted right on the covered crop. Yup…pretty interesting. A positive concept in protecting the soil from erosion.
Our next presenter was Brian Kau another member of ALP Class XVI. He gave a quick introduction of his family through pictures on his power point, very creative, unique mixed in with humor. After his introduction he shared with us his DOA job and its responsibilities. Brian manages DOA’s agricultural programs where land is established for the intent of enterprise through farming on leased state land. There is an Ag Park program and a Non-Ag program. He has also introduced a bill to create a new Ag Enterprise program at Legislature this past session but without success. It introduces in its proposal the focus of supporting Ag Industry by including, but not limited to, Agricultural Education, farmers markets, food hubs and processing facilities. Thanks Brian for your work at Legislature in behalf of the people of the Agricultural Community.
It was time for us to learn Legislative Process 101 with Brian Kau, assisted by Jonathan Ho. Lucky we were given the Citizens Guide to Participate in the Legislative Process handout. It’s the 24th of January 2019 and Legislature’s first hearings begins tomorrow. We learned that bills are introduced into legislature from various sources; some by individuals, some by organizations and by State Agencies. It is good to have a Legislator support and sponsor your bill by applying their name to it than introduced onto the floor, bills can also be introduced onto the floor through the governor’s package. Bills introduced will be assigned to committees and go through the first reading, it is then scheduled for Hearings. If the bill passes the first hearing it goes to a second reading than scheduled for a second Hearing. If bills are not scheduled for any Hearing the bill will die.
This event just described happens in both the House and the Senate. Some bills introduced may have a companion bill that is almost exact, going through this same process of reading and scheduled hearings. At some point all bills will have been read. Favored bills would move along the process then comes the “crossover” where bills are vetted by the other party to be read and heard, mind you there are two crossovers in the process with a deadline for everything. The Bipartisan Legislative Process of creating policy in our state is not the easiest thing to understand, it may not even be your cup of tea. But I do know that it is the process outlined to bring change in Law. After all is said and done, bills may have been changed in the process. In order for a bill to survive, both parties need to agree in its last and final version. Out of 4000 bills introduced, only about 300 bills become policy per session.
Next, we met with Brian Miyamoto of Hawaii Farm Bureau a non-profit entity, he along with Megan and Rochelle, assist farmers by creating legislation with an emphasis on Agriculture. HFB has over 1800 members and is a strong advocate and supporter of Agricultural Advances, Social, Economic and Educational interests of our Diverse Agricultural Community. It serves as an important layer of protection for all farmers and the challenges that they face. Brian is a Lobbyist and promotes advancement in Agriculture by seeking Legislative funding.
Some of HFB’s 2019 Legislative Priorities include CIP funding for sitewide water resource development and infrastructure, where farmers could continue to receive agricultural discount rate for water. The concern raised with FSMA’s new policy; farmers will need access to potable water for irrigating and washing of certain crops, but this may affect their discounted rates. Proposed solutions are to subsidize Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) in locating and developing new water sources thus helping Oahu’s farmers in maintaining an discounted Ag. water rate.
Another 2019 Priority of HSB is requesting for CIP funding for Honalo Processing and Marshalling Facility, an Ulu Producers Cooperative located on the Big Island. The Facility needs an upgrade to process the projected volume of product, funding will be used for the purchase of equipment and improvement to infrastructure.
Lunch was another wonderful meal by Dana, the pasta dishes and pizza were tasty, thank you. After lunch we prepared to walk over to the Capitol to meet with House Representative Richard Creagan, who is the Agricultural Committee Chair.
There was a plethora of topics in our discussion with the Chair of Agriculture, we began our conversation with the subject of the Chlorpyrifos Story; a Toxic Chemical Pesticide that was banned of use here in Hawaii in May of 2018. It is a Neurotoxin that causes considerable damage to brain development in children. The new ruling requires a 100 foot no-spray zone from schools during school hours, it also includes mandated usage reports. We also talked about the pros and cons of this law and the impact it will have on Ag. Industry. Next, we had a discussion of Glyphosate, a strong herbicide whose side effects is systemic toxins in plants that kill pollinators. Hawaii has many specialty crops that are dependent on pollinators; melons, watermelon, cucumbers, squash. avocado, coffee, guava are just a few crops on this list. HB 2272 is a bill that is intended to protect the environment and its pollinators.
Other topics what we discussed were that of Agri-housing, Rat lung-worm disease and the future of Ag in an era of CRISPR. We want to thank House Rep. Richard Creagan for taking the time in his busy schedule to meet with our ALP XVI class and wish him and his Committee well in the 2019 session. We look forward to providing support through online bill / resolution tracking and actively providing testimony.
Being at the Capitol we took the opportunity to visit the Public Access Room, there we met Keanu Young and Virginia Beck, they enlightened us on how to access the eHawaii.gov website, set up our own account and be able tract and follow all activities that occur at Legislature. We learned how to engage with the Legislative “frenzy”, relative to proposed bills, hearings and submitting testimony from the protection of our homes. In the PAR was all the literature and pamphlets that provides needed information. I picked up a House and Senate Leadership Committee Assignments sheet, this is a must, need to know who to visit when lobbying. Also grabbed the 2019 Session Calendar, to become familiar with important dates and deadline of Bills and Resolutions.
Lastly, I needed a State Capitol Legislative Room, Phone & Fax Directory, so I could find those I wanted to visit. Great information, thank you Keanu and Virginia for making us feel welcomed and for the empowerment.
With time remaining off we went to visit our District Legislators, myself and a few other decided to visit with House Representative Lynn DeCoite. She is Vice Chair of the Agricultural Committee, a member of Lower & Higher Education and Tourism & International Affairs Committee. Our visit was Great, we were able to have discussions on our concerns happening in Agriculture in Maui County (District 13). Rep. DeCoite shared with us some of the bills being introduced this session and wanted to know how we felt about it and if it may impact our communities. We know that she is an asset to the Agricultural Committee, she is a third-generation farmer from Molokai, Lynn and her husband Russel own L&R farms with the families’ trademark the “Molokai’s purple sweet potato”. All I can say is; time went by too quickly. What a Great visit, from Farming to Legislature, Rep. Lynn DeCoite works hard. Thank you Rep. DeCoite!!
This is the end of our first day of Seminar 4 on Oahu, it was a blast, we learned a lot of different things; from our cohorts we learned that which make them tick, whether it was career related or their agricultural interests. We learned from our Lobbyist at the Hawaii Farm Bureau and how to support them in advocating for Agricultural interests. We also had an amazing day at the Capitol, meeting our politicians and learning how we can be a part of the Legislative Process. Thank You ALP leaders!!!