Pass the Bill

SUBHEAD: No more stalling. Any County Council deferral of Bill 2491 will be seen as a derogation of duty. 

By Staff on 14 October 2013 for Pass the Bill Coalition -

Image above: Extensive Syngenta GMO corn fields on the Mana Plain near Polihale State Park in 2012.  Photo by Richard Jarke.

Kauai County Council continuation of Bill 2491 to regulate Kauai pesticide and GMO experiments.

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 beginning at 9:00am (get there early for seating)

Kauai Council Chamber
Historic Kauai County Building
4396 Rice Street, Lihue, Kauai  

A diverse cross-section of the Kauai community is preparing to convince the Kauai County Council to vote on Tuesday, October 15 on Bill 2491, the "Right to Know" bill.

Increased efforts and island-wide community actions will be launched by citizen groups in response to remarks made on Tuesday, October 8, by Mayor Bernard Carvalho that showed his lack of knowledge of basic tenets of Bill 2491.  The Mayor asked the Council to defer a vote on the Bill, to give him more time to learn about the bill and work with the state Department of Agriculture for solutions.

Kauai families responded to the Mayor's comments with outrage and skepticism, pointing to previous testimonies by the state Department of Agriculture and other state employees that described the agency's inability to enforce existing state pesticide regulations. "Our Council is considering Bill 2491 on Kauai precisely because the state has failed us time and time again on the issue of pesticides," said Bryce Boeder of west Kauai.

A recent article in Hawaii's Civil Beat reported:

The state Department of Agriculture has only one employee assigned to review pesticide inspection reports and follow up on possible violations. And she says she hasn't gotten around to reviewing most reports in several years so there's been little if any action against pesticide misuse.

[T]he environmental health specialist in the agriculture department's pesticides branch . . . told Civil Beat last week she's been able to review only a handful of reports in the past few years. She finished just seven of 72 investigations into possible violations on Kauai alone for 2011 and 2012.

The Mayor's reliance on enhanced state action grew even more implausible following Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui's announcement on Friday of a hiring freeze on state departments.

Council Back-Pedaling 
Many Council Members themselves have pointed to the State's failure to protect Kauai residents in prior Council meetings re: Bill 2491. As Civil Beat reported:

The state of Hawaii has effectively forsaken its responsibility to ensure that biotech companies are not risking public and environmental health, several members of the Kauai County Council said Monday, so it was up to the county to pick up the slack.

This has many Kauai residents asking, "Why are we now talking AGAIN about the state stepping in to save us?" Some believe it is another stall tactic encouraged by the lobbying organization Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (HCIA), whose members are the agrochemical companies that would be regulated under the Bill.

Elijah Frank, a local firefighter, for example, stated, "It's important that the public knows about the attempts by the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, and supported by the Department of Agriculture, to take away the rights of counties to protect the health and safety of their people. Senate Bill 727, introduced last session, would have done just that. If passed, that law would have eliminated county authority to pass an ordinance like 2491. It was only stopped because the public caught on after it had already passed out of several committees."

Frank, and the Kauai based group 'Ohana O Kauai, has been working on raising public awareness about Bill 2491 and helped to defeat SB727. "The Department of Agriculture and the its Director, Russell Kokubun, have consistently supported HCIA and legislation like SB727."

Frank believes it is highly questionable for the Council to set back the discussion to where it was months ago. "The Council has already had in-depth correspondence with the departments of ag and health, and it was clear that these state agencies are not going to help Kauai's residents in any immediate or meaningful way."

West Kauai Residents Outraged
 Other public response to a deferral has been strong and negative, especially from the people who would most benefit from the Bill's provisions for disclosure and buffer zones.

Klayton Kubo, a long time Waimea resident who has been calling attention to the effects of pesticide and dust pollution on his neighborhood since at least 2000, stated "It's like coming full circle around.  After getting no help from the state, we finally thought the County would step up. Now, they are pointing to the state again?  For me, the question is, 'WHO IS GOING TO PROTECT US?' Come the election next year, the people are going to remember."

Nate Dickinson of Waimea said,
"My neighbors and I have been living with this for years. We are so close to finally getting some protections from our County government.  And now the Mayor and Council want more time?  We need action NOW. This is urgent for those of us whose families live with the pesticide and dust drift every day."
At the Council's October 8 meeting, Hanapepe resident Lorna Cummings Poe testified to the Council that:
We cannot continue to ignore the fact these pesticides have harmed our reefs, salt beds and sealife that sustain our people. The protection, safety and health of people you are elected to serve is being compromised.  
Most of your so-called 'red shirts' from the west side respect the close relationships we share with those who work for seed companies. They are our friends and family, too. There are hundreds of west siders that are supporters of 2491.

If there was ever a time to show support, it is NOW.  After all our hard work and testimonies revealing serious health and safety problems, back room politics and corporate influence are again trying to take away the voice of the people, to defer a Council vote on Bill 2491.

So we will show that the people of Kauai are relentless in protecting what we love.

If you haven't yet, please send your written testimony to for a big push on Bill 2491. 

And call Council Members, with aloha to tell them:

"For the love of Kauai - and for our children -  VOTE TUESDAY TO APPROVE BILL 2491."

Nadine Nakamura: 808-241-4098
Jay Furfaro: 808-241-4093
JoAnn Yukimura: 808-241-4092
Ross Kagawa: 808-241-4094
Please testify by email at:
Remind them that the evidence is clear - Kaua'i families support Bill 2491:
  • We've heard thousands of testimonies
  • Listened to dozens of experts and state agencies
  • Generated over 10,000 petition signatures
  • Rallied over 4,000 at the Mana March
  • Received union endorsements from teachers, nurses and hotel workers'
  • Received endorsements of over 60 local businesses
  • Attracted worldwide attention. 

Be at the County Council Building on Tuesday, October 15.

SLEEP-OVER PARTY!!! Tonight on the steps of the county building to be the 1st in line to testify!


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