Marjorie Ziegler emailed me this summary of the way politics works at the legislature:
“Hawaii Farm Bureau, fronting for plantation ag interests like A&B, has been
taking swipes at the State Water Code for about a decade, trying to end-run
the supreme court’s landmark Waiahole decision reaffirming water is a public
trust, not the plantations companies’ private property. For the last couple
of years, legislators have known better than to mess with the law, refusing
even to hear any bills, but HFB has renewed their push this year.
The usual direct attack on the Water Code, HB 1946, was scheduled for an
early hearing (1/30) before the House WLO committee. In the face of strong
opposition from DLNR and numerous community organizations and individuals,
the bill was deferred.
House leadership (Rep. Sharon Har) then tried the indirect approach of
imbedding water law language into a general “sustainability” bill, HB 2671.
Because committee members and the public weren’t shown the inserted
language, the bill slipped through the previous committees and was scheduled
for the last House hearing, before the Higher Ed committee (2/14).
Despite the smokescreen, the hijacked bill again met strong opposition.
Notably, farmers showed up in person to challenge HFB’s “water for
agriculture” shibai. HFB/HC&S/A&B’s lobbyist was lurking in the crowd, but
did not testify. The Higher Ed committee deferred the bill.
This is the first time that the House has tried to backdoor these water law
attacks, and we suspect it won’t be the last this session. We hope we can
count on folks’ support to defend the rule of law against plantation
politics in the stewardship of our most precious resource.”
What I think is even worse is the tendency for the legisilature in general to fail to post proposed changes in bill in Ramseyer notation. The only way you can see the changes is to do a word for word comparison between the original lawy and the proposed Act. Nearly impossible for the average person, even for the above average person like me.:-)
Thanks to an Earth Justice attorney we were alerted to this monstrosity. I just wonder how much is slipping buy unnoticed.
I there anyone out their who wants to advocate against this bill and attacks on the water code? Please let me know what you are doing. Iʻm trying to coordinate activities of the Natural Resource Management Committee and sure need help. If you need help with your advocacy give me a call.