House of Representatives asks for study on effects of toxic pesticide

headshot dec 2011On March 14th, 19 Legislators in the State House of Representatives, including some in leadership, cosponsored HR100 and HCR129 calling for the State Director of Health to head a task force on the effects of atrazine on human health. Atrazine is a toxic, weed-killing pesticide used in Hawai‘i for decades in treating sugarcane, pineapple, and most recently seed corn.

The Atrazine Task Force is charged with reporting its findings, including any proposed legislation, to the State Legislature no later than October 31, 2013.  Legislation resulting from the task force’s recommendations will be considered during the 2014 Legislative Session.

Hawai‘i State Representative Cynthia Thielen, a co-introducer of HR100 and HCR129, said, “It is crucial that the state make every effort to protect our residents, our ‘aina, and our oceans from the potential adverse effects of chronic atrazine exposure. Historically in Hawai‘i, waiting to investigate pesticide or chemical exposure has resulted in needless tragedy and expensive cleanups. We need more information, and the time to do this is now.”

Research has indicated that atrazine exposure may be associated with reproductive problems in men, irregular menstrual cycles in women, and low birth weight and small head circumference in infants.  In laboratory mammals, abnormal reproductive system development, impaired prostate gland formation, and abnormal breast tissue development have also been found. Additionally, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reported that atrazine may have dangerous effects on fish.

Tests run by the Department of Health repeatedly have shown that Hawai‘i’s drinking water, particularly on the Big Island, is contaminated with low levels of atrazine. A report by the Soil/Water/Air Protection Enterprise indicates that Hawai‘i is ranked tenth among states for the percentage of its population exposed to atrazine in drinking water.

“I understand that the State Department of Agriculture does not test for atrazine because there is a shortage of inspectors. Companies using atrazine in Hawai‘i are policing themselves in regard to EPA application compliance. If we are not testing consistently, then how can we know that these companies are following the EPA prescribed protocols?  The fact that atrazine is banned in Europe due to groundwater contamination risks should be a red flag for all of us,” said Representative Thielen.

Atrazine has been under continued EPA evaluation and is scheduled for a registration review beginning this year.

Rep. Fale Recognizes Kahuku High School For Athletic Excellence

Hawaii House of Representatives to Honor Kahuku High School Teams for Exceptional Athletic and Academic Achievement
School produced state champion teams in varsity football and civic engagement

Two Kahuku High School teams will be recognized Monday for outstanding achievement. The 2012 Division I State Champion varsity football team earned a perfect 12-0 record and continues Kahuku’s strong football tradition of excellence. Additionally, the school’s “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” team won the state competition of the educational civic engagement program.

Six of the past eight NFL Super Bowls have featured a Kahuku High School graduate. The team is gaining a national reputation for producing standout college and National Football League (NFL) players.
“We the People” encourages critical thinking about civics by requiring students to submit essays and face a live panel of judges to test their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. The team will go on to represent Hawaii at the national finals in April in Washington, D.C.
What: House of Representatives floor presentation commending Kahuku High School State Champion teams for athletic and academic performances
Who: Offered by Rep. Richard Fale (District 47 — Waiahole, Ka’a’awa, Punalu’u, Hau’ula, Laie, Kahuku, Haleiwa, Waialua)

When: 12:00 noon, Monday, March 18, 2013 Where: Hawaii House of Representatives Chamber

standing caucus roomContact: Excerpt from Capitol TV



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Governor dismisses industry concerns over upholding hotel tax increase as “propaganda”

Governor Abercrombie today dismissed industry concerns that his proposal to repeal the sunset on the high transient accommodations tax rate would harm Hawaii’s tourism industry. The bill (SB 1194 SD2) failed to pass the House Committee on Tourism today.

In response to a legislator’s echoing of industry worries that the high tax rate is hurting business and the greater Hawaii economy, the governor interrupted by saying he has been hearing “the same propaganda.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“As soon as he received word that Hawaii’s economy was on its way to recovery, the governor acted to accelerate an agenda of increased spending and taxes,” said Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson. “It deeply concerns our caucus that the chief executive of our state shows this kind of insensitivity for our state’s private sector needs. We lawmakers should really be considering expert perspectives, not outright dismissing them.”

In addition to inundating the legislature with requests for new and higher taxes and fees this legislative session, Governor Abercrombie proposed higher spending on numerous government programs. In its budget passed last week, the House countered the governor’s request with a $600 million reduction, citing the need for a more conservative approach as the state’s economy recovers.

“As indicated by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, our visitor industry is a very volatile and sensitive one, and we need to nurture it rather than criticize it,” said Rep. Gene Ward, Minority Leader Emeritus and Vice Chair of the House Committee on Economic Development & Business. “For the benefit of all of Hawaii, we should take seriously all viewpoints, especially those of the largest sector of our local economy.”

The TAT rate was incrementally increased twice in 2009 and 2010 from 7.25 to 9.25 percent. The rate is set to revert to 7.25 percent on June 30, 2015 if the sunset is not repealed.