Legislative Advocacy

At today’s Environmental General Caucus meeting, we selected three issues from the Natural Resources Subcommittee’s recommendations that the Caucus will advocate for during the 2011 legislative session. They were:

1.Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail
PROTECT The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail AND PRESERVE THE COASTLINE FROM UPOLU POINT TO Hawaii Volcanoes National Park ON THE ISLAND OF HAWAI’I BY REQUESTING A 2,000 FOOT CONSERVATION EASEMENT COASTLINE SETBACK ON ALL STATE OWNED LANDS. see http:// environmentalcaucusofthedemocraticpartyofhawaii.wordpress.com/subcommittees/natural- resource-management/ for details.
Debbie’s Hecht has done her homework on this and has a draft bill ready to go. She is also doing a fantastic job of community organizing. We received a lot of e-mail votes from the big Island for this particular legislation.

2. Ban the use of plastic bags and styrofoam food containers in Hawaii.
The environmental community has been trying to get this legislation enacted for at least a decade. The bills are ready to go, and if we finally want to see it passed, we will need a lot of public support and your advocacy. In other words, call your Representatives, write your Senators, stay informed, keep in touch, get your friends involved, and be ready to testify in person or online if you can.

3.Improve quarantine inspection system that will minimize the introduction of alien pests, including joint federal-state inspection facilities at the ports of entry like Honolulu International Airport and Honolulu Harbor.

We will be planning  how to proceed with this at our next steering committee meeting on December 29. We will need to decide if this legislation should be in the form of a resolution or a bill, and how the legislation should be worded. Anyone who wants to be involved in advocating for this legislation should e-mail their recommendations to bsager42@gmail.com.

Finally, I see my job as chair of the subcommittee as facilitator and coordinator of our discussions. Also when no one can step forward to advocate for one of these bills, I will do so. I will be particularly enthusiastic about advocating for bills submitted by our neighbor island members. Specifically, I expect to advocate for Aka Kahakai National Historic Trail.

For those of you who have not been involved in advocating for legislation, it is a very time-consuming process, which is why the Steering Committee felt that we should limit the number of bills we should  advocate for. A few of our members expressed frustration that the Caucus will not be advocating for the entire environmental slate. If you want to advocate for issues not included in our top three, we encourage you to do so. I’m sure you could get Caucus support for your effort, and we will be happy to keep our members informed of hearing dates, etc. on all important environmental issues.

I personally will advocate for the coastal setback legislation provided Debbie finds a local Hawaii legislator who will submit the bill. I will also need the map she showed at today’s meeting and a list of talking points.

I anticipate members of the natural resource subcommittee who voted on item two, to ban plastic, will step forward to advocate for that legislation.

Item three, relating to quarantine inspection, will require the most work.

Anyone interested in advocating for any of these bills should plan on attending our December 29 steering committee meeting.

Mahalo, Bill

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