Rep. Cynthia Thielen addresses SB2341 – Zoning; Agricultural Tourism

SB2341 HD2 – RELATING TO LAND USE. Report Title: Zoning; Agricultural Tourism Description: Repeals the prohibition on ordinances that allow overnight accommodations in agricultural districts. Authorizes agricultural tourism activities, including overnight accommodations of twenty-one days or less, within a county with a population greater than one hundred thousand people, but less than one hundred fifty thousand people; provided that the county has adopted ordinances regulating agricultural tourism. Effective July 1, 2112.

The purpose of this bill is to repeal the prohibition on ordinances that allow overnight accommodations in agricultural districts. The bill authorizes agricultural tourism activities, including overnight accommodations of 21 days or less, within a county with a population greater than 100,000 people, but less than 150,000 people; provided that the county has adopted ordinances regulating agricultural tourism. Effective July 1, 2112.

DOA concerned that overnight accommodations would dramatically alter concept of agricultural tourism as originally intended and could cause agricultural tourism to be primary, rather than secondary, land use.
Office of the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu: concern that there is the potential to transform much of the agricultural district, particularly the
scenic regions, into a “vacation rental district,” as there may be more profit from tourism than agriculture. It will also increase the value/price of the land. While this bill is for Maui, the Office has concerns about it setting a precedent for other islands. Also, Oahu imports food from neighbor islands and therefore impacts supply on Oahu. This is a Pandora’s box; more study needed.
Sierra Club: Special Use Permits can currently be done; recommends sunset clause if passes. These permits are more protective, on a case-by-case basis.

Rep. Thielen addressing SB2341 second time


Contact: repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov Excerpt from CapitolTV

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Reps. Marumoto and Fontaine address SB 2394 – Lending Practices

Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1689-12 S.B. No. 2394, S.D. 1, H.D. 3 RELATING TO CONSUMER PROTECTION.(Consumer Protection; Lending Practices; Military Members; Distressed Residential Properties Program) AS AMENDED, PASS THIRD READING

HI Bankers Association (oral testimony):
This bill doesn’t make sense. This distressed residential properties program is a wholesale bailout of lenders who made bad loans. It creates a State of Hawaii portfolio of toxic mortgages. The State will is basically becoming the mortgagor. The full faith and credit of the state is what will make the lenders whole. This could adversely impact state’s credit and bond rating. The bill allows state to issue $25 million revenue bonds (Note: HD3 now says $10 million). This will just repeat what brought the mortgage crisis upon us in the first place—toxic mortgages were bundled up and sold to unsuspecting bondholders. Future borrowers will have more difficulty qualifying for a mortgage; banks will pass onto them the costs by requiring a high down payment, and by being more conservative in the underwriting. We also question the legality of the provision allowing condemnation of private personal property for public use provision.

Contact:: repfontaine@capitol.hawaii.gov or repmarumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov
excerpt from Capitol TV

 

 

 

Reps. Pine and Riviere address SB 2394 – Lending Practices

Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1689-12 S.B. No. 2394, S.D. 1, H.D. 3 RELATING TO CONSUMER PROTECTION.(Consumer Protection; Lending Practices; Military Members; Distressed Residential Properties Program) AS AMENDED, PASS THIRD READING

Rep. Riviere asked HI Credit Union League: Q: What is most troubling about this bill? A: The Second Part. (We are OK with First Part.) Second Part could put taxpayer money in jeopardy.
Rep. Yamane asked AG: Q: Wouldn’t condemnation be allowed, for public purposes, since we buy distressed property? A: Eminent domain is for real property. There are problems with using eminent down for personal property. Mortgages, we consider, are more personal property. (AG told Rep. Ichiyama they would do research on laws in other states.)
Rep. Jordan asked AG: Q: What do you do for forgiveness of debt? Who takes on responsibility? A: Not sure how transaction could go. If homeowner owns the debt at the time, then it would apply to homeowner. If State, then State. Q: What about deficiency judgment? A: Homeowner will still owe. It’s like a monkey on your back. Q; Does that liability affect income tax of homeowner? A: Don’t know. Q: If I was the homeowner, will I still be burdened with having to pay tax on forgiven debt? A: Yes.

Contact: repriviere@capitol.hawaii.gov or reppine@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Excerpt from capitol tv

Rep. Gene Ward Addresses SB755 – Special Management Area Permits

Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1683-12 S.B. No. 755, S.D. 2, H.D. 3 RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. (Economic Development; Special Management Area Permits, Shoreline Setback Variances, Environmental Assessment Exemptions)
AS AMENDED, PASS THIRD READING

The purpose of this bill is to temporarily exempt airport structures and improvements from the special management area permit and shoreline setback variance requirements when the structures and improvements are necessary to comply with FAA regulations.

EC further noted that the governor, as an office of the executive branch, and therefore an agency by definition of HRS 343-2, already may establish exemption lists, albeit with the Council’s concurrence and subject to the Hawaii Administrative Rules.

This measure would provide the governor an alternative pathway to establish an exemption list that would take immediate effect upon publication in the bulletin; this could happen on July 1, 2012, the day the bill takes effect; no discussion has been held on how the governor would prepare such a list.

Limiting factors are even more pronounced for any approving state agencies as they are directly under the power of the executive; the practical effect of this is that no one will exercise oversight of the government to ensure its actions have little or no significant effects on the environment.

Contact: repward@capitol.hawaii.gov Excerpt from Capitol TV

Rep. Gene Ward second time addressing SB 755 – Special Management Area Permits

Rep. Gil Riviere addresses SB 755 -Special Management Area Permits

Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1683-12 S.B. No. 755, S.D. 2, H.D. 3 RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. (Economic Development; Special Management Area Permits, Shoreline Setback Variances, Environmental Assessment Exemptions)
AS AMENDED, PASS THIRD READING

The purpose of this bill is to temporarily exempt airport structures and improvements from the special management area permit and shoreline setback variance requirements when the structures and improvements are necessary to comply with FAA regulations.
It is not clear whether the language in this measure empowers the Governor to establish or modify lists that apply to “classes of action” and/or the “agency specific lists” and without the support of Rules or any defined process, it is unclear as to what basis or decision making criteria will be used to determine that specific types of projects probably will have minimal or no significant impact and therefore should be added to or included on a categorical list of projects that might be considered exempt from the Chapter 343, HRS process.

There is no requirement for public or even of EC or OEQC notification of an exemption declaration and thus no way of knowing if a project is exempted or not exempt, nor whether a project has started or not and 60 days is an incredibly inadequate period of time to respond to an action when you do not know whether or not it has occurred.

EC testified that there is no requirement for public or even of EC or OEQC notification of an exemption declaration and thus no way of knowing if a project is exempted or not exempt, nor whether a project has started or not. 60 days is an incredibly inadequate period of time to respond to an action when you do not know whether or not it has occurred.

Contact repriviere@capitol.hawaii.gov Excerpt from Capitol TV

Rep. Thielen addresses SB755 – special management area permits

Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1683-12 S.B. No. 755, S.D. 2, H.D. 3 RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. (Economic Development; Special Management Area Permits, Shoreline Setback Variances, Environmental Assessment Exemptions)
AS AMENDED, PASS THIRD READING

The purpose of this bill is to temporarily exempt airport structures and improvements from the special management area permit and shoreline setback variance requirements when the structures and improvements are necessary to comply with FAA regulations.

OEQC testified that their concerns focus primarily on the aspects that directly impact Chapter 343 HRS, the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act as its office is responsible by law to administer the environmental review requirements governing Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements.

OEQC further noted that this measure is unnecessary and because of its ambiguities, omissions and conflicting purposes will cause confusion in the manner in which Chapter 343 is interpreted and administered, which would as a result, lead to an increase in future lawsuits against the State of Hawaii;
case in point, the Sierra Club notes that on multiple occasions agencies in Hawaii failed to conduct an environmental review until legal challenges were filed (Koa Ridge, Superferry, Kahului Airport, etc.).

According to those in opposition, there is now in place an established procedure which already provides a straight forward, easy to implement exemption list process for actions/projects that are likely to have no or negligible environmental impacts.

Those in opposition also noted that projects that are expected to have a significant impact cannot and should not be exempted, and under the present law are required to complete at the minimum an Environmental Assessment; blanket exemptions assume all similar actions have equal impacts, which is a key false premise upon which these proposals listed in the bill are based.

Contact: repthielen@ capitol.hawaii.gov Excerpt from Capitol TV

Proposed Hawaii Legislation Removes Transparency, Promotes Government Secrecy

April 10, 2011

 

 

by Representative Barbara Marumoto

I am opposing to the passage of SB 2858. This bill has the wrong title.  It should be called Relating to Closed Government.  Passage of SB 2858 will roll back more than 20 years of openness and sunshine in the manner in which the State of Hawaii handles access to records and ensures its meetings are open and transparent to the public.

SB 2858 would allow state agencies to delay the release of publically requested records under the Uniform Information Practices Act and make it more difficult for the public to ensure agencies meet the sunshine law requirements.  This is because the law would now allow agencies to challenge an OIP decision in the courts.

A recent analysis done by a noted professor at the University of Hawaii Law School  makes it clear the original legislative intent in passing Chapter 92 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes was to not permit OIP decisions to be adjudicated and to clearly promote promptness and uniformity in the manner in which UIPA requests were handled.

SB 2858 would turn the Legislative intent 180 degrees around and destroy the hard earned reputation our State has earned for openness, fairness, and transparency in its dealings with the public.

I have read the legalize arguments of the current head of OIP and I do not believe they hold legal water.  Further, it is disturbing that this bill is part of the Governor’s legislative package, the same Governor who summarily dismissed the former head of OIP when she did not rule the way he wanted her to.

This is is part of a larger issue we as legislators have a responsibility to address.  Will we permit actions by the part of the executive branch to hide what they are doing from both us and the public – actions such as the issuance of executive orders, or the dismissal of staff, or the whereabouts of our own governor on a daily basis?  Will we stand up for regular citizens and the media that have a duty to inform the public and allow them to the thwarted in their efforts to know what their own government is doing — the government they pay for and support?

These are disturbing developments and SB  2858 will only make it harder for the public and members of the media to find out what is really happening in our State Government.  For a more open and transparent government, I urge my colleagues to vote no.

I am standing up to protect openness, transparency and fairness in our government.    It is wrong to delay releasing information under a Freedom of Information Request from the public and force people to go to court to get access to data they should have.

The bill will mean the public has to be prepared to pay legal fees to get information.  It also means we will be pitting state agency against state agency—something our predecessor legislators clearly wanted to avoid.

Hawaii used to be one of the States that took pride in our open records laws.  Now the sunshine is dimming in our State.  I oppose this cloak of darkness and urge my colleagues in the House to do the same.