This announcement is posted courtesy of The Nature Conservancy. It is not a position of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, but is one of the highest priorities of the Environmental Caucus
Please submit testimony in support of bills to be heard on Monday that will fund the DLNR’s watershed protection and invasive species control initiatives:
1. HB 935 Re Conveyance Tax. This Administration supported bill proposes to increase conveyance tax rates on properties ≥$2M to fund watershed protection and invasive species control. Here are the particulars for Monday’s hearing:
ü Bill text/status: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=935
ü Submit testimony: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/submittestimony.aspx
2. HB 357 Bag Fee. This Administration supported bill would place a 10¢ fee on single-use paper and plastic bags with 80% of the revenue going to the DLNR for watersheds and invasives. The CPC hearing notice is not posted yet, but I will send that as soon as it is.
· The Rain Follows the Forest initiative is working to ensure fresh water is available for the people of Hawai‘i in perpetuity by protecting our watershed forests, a central goal of A New Day in Hawai‘i plan.
· Healthy forests that are not overrun by invasive species efficiently capture and deliver fresh water into streams and aquifers for our use.
· By pulling moisture from passing clouds, forests can actually increase water capture up to 50% more than through rainfall alone.
· When forests are lost or degraded, Hawai‘i loses its source of fresh water.
· More than half of Hawaii’s forests have been lost. Historically, the threat was overharvesting and development. Today’s threat is invasive plants and animals.
· The longer we wait to take significant action, the higher the cost will be to reverse the damage, thereby threatening water supplies for future generations.
· Forests also help mitigate erosion and runoff into our precious streams and coastlines.
· Healthy forests will become even more critical as we experience the likely effects of climate change, including more severe storms but overall less rainfall, and temperature changes that may benefit invasive pests.
· The conveyance tax bill would support this watershed protection through essential forest management programs, invasive species control, land acquisition, and other conservation programs.
· The development and sale of real estate helps drive Hawaii’s economy, but it also puts pressure on our natural resources. It makes sense to spend a portion of conveyance tax revenue on protecting those natural resources.
· In recent years, enormous amounts have been invested in the development and sale of real estate, and continued investment in development and construction is helping to lift our economy out of recession. Yet, we make a comparatively tiny investment in protecting the natural resources that also drive our economy and provide benefits that allow us to survive in the middle of the vast Pacific.