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  • Writer's pictureHawai'i House Democrats

Bills Signed Into Law to Support Local Agriculture, Combat Sea Level Rise, Promote Economic Recovery

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Governor David Ige today signed seven sustainability bills into law during a ceremony at Washington Place to support local food production, protect people and businesses from rising sea levels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and prioritize the creation of green jobs.

Supporting Farmers and Use of Local Agricultural Products

Three of the new laws focus on local food production and encourage healthier options at schools, supermarkets, and state facilities like hospitals and prisons.

HB767 HD2 SD2 (Act 175) moves the Hawaiʻi Farm to School Program out of the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Education and establishes a goal for the DOE that at least 30% of food served in public schools consist of locally sourced products by the year 2030.

The intent of this measure is to increase the efficiency of the Hawaiʻi Farm to School Program, provide healthier food choices served in public schools, and support local agriculture.

"Supporting the Farm to School Program and increasing the amount of locally sourced food served in public schools will help to provide healthier eating options for our children while also supporting local agriculture as we move towards securing a more sustainable and resilient food system in Hawaiʻi," said Representative Ty J.K. Cullen (D-39, Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waipahu, Makakilo, West Loch), the primary introducer of the bill.

SB512 SD2 HD1 CD1 (Act 177) removes the $10 per visit per day cap on the dollar-for-dollar match received by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries under the Hawaiʻi healthy food incentive program, also known as the Double Up Food Books (DA BUX) program. This bill expands eligible purchases under the program to include healthy proteins, along with Hawaiʻi-grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

"Lawmakers recognize the critical role that fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins play in a healthy diet and the prevention of obesity and chronic disease," said Rep. Ryan I. Yamane, Chair of the House Health, Human Services & Homelessness Committee. "This bill will help increase SNAP beneficiaries' access to fresh and healthy dietary options."

"Senate Bill 512 not only defrays the high cost of healthy eating. This bill also supports local agriculture, including Hawaiʻi's cattle and fishing industries, that were adversely impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic," explained Rep. Mark Hashem, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee. "The DA BUX Program helps stimulate the local economy and supports the State's objectives of doubling food production by 2030."

HB817 HD2 SD2 (Act 176) establishes benchmarks for all state departments to ensure that a certain percentage of the produce purchased by that department consists of fresh local agricultural products or local value-added, processed, agricultural, or food products. The bill also requires a report be made to the legislature on each department's progress toward meeting these benchmarks.

This measure will help to ensure that state moneys used for the procurement of produce remain within the state and directly support the local businesses that generate local produce and food products.

"With this bill, the State leads by example in supporting and growing our agricultural industry and boosting food security and resilience. I am proud that we are taking the first of many steps to diversifying our economy and using our agricultural land for what it is meant for: crops, not homes," said Scot Z. Matayoshi (D-49, Kane‘ohe, Maunawili, Olomana), the primary introducer of the bill. "This bill demonstrates Hawai‘i's commitment to local agriculture for generations to come."

Mitigating the Impacts of Sea Level Rise, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

These three bills focus on an environmentally sustainable future and preparing for the effects of climate change.

HB243 HD1 SD2 CD1 (Act 178) requires the Office of Planning to identify existing and planned facilities that are vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding impacts, and natural hazards and to then assess a range of options to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise to those facilities. The office will submit annual reports to the Governor, Legislature, and the Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission regarding the vulnerability and adaptation assessments for state facilities and the progress made in implementing sea level rise adaptation in future plans, programs, and capital improvement needs and decisions.

"To ensure the state's sustainable and resilient future, state government agencies managing state facilities must plan, coordinate, and act to adapt to climate change and sea level rise," said Representative David A. Tarnas (D-7, North & South Kohala, North Kona), Chair of the House Water & Land Committee and the primary introducer of the bill. "We need to be prepared to protect the state's public assets and infrastructure on which we depend. I am happy this bill has been signed into law because this is urgent! This law calls on the state to produce an operational and financial plan to adapt our critical infrastructure to sea level rise, which will make us more resilient to the impacts of climate change."

SB474 SD1 HD2 CD1 (Act 179) requires that sellers disclose and identify residential real properties lying within the sea level rise exposure area.

Realtors can use an interactive mapping tool that depicts projections for future hazard exposure and assesses economic impacts due to rising sea levels, to determine if property disclosures are needed.

"We want to make sure that both the buyer and seller are aware of any sea level change on those properties," said Representative Adrian Tam (D-22, Waikiki, Ala Moana). "The value of property lying within the boundaries of a sea level rise will be affected over time, and therefore that is a material fact that should be disclosed by the seller in all real property transactions."

HB683 HD2 SD1 CD1 (Act 180) establishes the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Program to provide matching grants to small businesses in Hawai‘i that develop products related to sustainable aviation fuel or greenhouse gas reduction from commercial aviation operations.

"Nearly one-third of the energy consumed in the state is from jet fuel, which is one of the largest sources of Hawai‘i's greenhouse gas emissions," said Representative Mark M. Nakashima (D-1, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo), Chair of the House Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs Committee and the primary introducer of the bill. "The availability of sustainable aviation fuel will be key to reducing global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions and potentially create a new, valuable industry in the state."

Economic Recovery and Green Job Training for Young People

This bill recognizes that young people and those who are unemployed due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic need training for good paying jobs in the green sector.

HB1176 HD1 SD2 CD1 (Act 181) allows the Governor to designate the Department of Land and Natural Resources to administer a Green Job Youth Corps Program that will provide temporary work and training opportunities to help address the unemployment impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and support economic diversification.

The Green Job Youth Corps Program will prioritize work and training opportunities for young adults between ages 20 and 40 and help diversify Hawai‘i's economy.

"For years we have attempted to create new industries in Hawai'i without addressing the need for workforce development. This bill aims to change that by training local people for the green jobs of the future, while also providing employment at a time when so many have lost their jobs," said Representative Sean Quinlan (Waialua, Hale‘iwa, Pupukea, Kahuku, La‘ie, Hau‘ula, Waiahole, Waikane, Sunset Beach, Punalu‘u, Ka‘a‘awa) Chair of the House Economic Development Committee and the primary introducer of the bill.

Of the 265 bills passed by the Legislature this session, Governor Ige has signed more than 180 of bills into law.

Photo Credit: Office of the Governor

Caption: Governor David Ige today signed several sustainability bills into law during a ceremony at Washington Place to support local food production, protect people and businesses from rising sea levels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and prioritize the creation of green jobs.


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