Councilwoman Wille’s Thoughts on Upcoming Hawaii County Council Legislation

Councilwoman Maragaret Wille sent out the following regarding her thoughts on some of the upcoming County Council legislation:

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Re: Affordable Housing:

Tuesday August 20th at 9:45 am – Communication 310.1-Bill 89 – Amends the Code concerning the County Housing Agency to remove the members of the Council as the members of the Housing Agency and replace them with the appointment of a Housing Administrator.  This is likely a good idea.

MW Amendment: I submitted an amendment, which would modify the purpose of this agency. My amendment to the bill, Comm. 310.1, requires that when selecting locations for affordable housing, the agency take into consideration the availability of water and other resources, as well as the availability of transportation options. I also propose that the priority of this agency be to provide transitional shelter and rental housing, and make providing single-family homes a lower priority (single family homes are far more expensive to the taxpayers and can be made available to far fewer of those in need of shelter).

Re: Cost of Bus Passes 

Tuesday August 20th at 10:00 am – Comm. 376 – Bill 108:

MW Bill: I am proposing to amend the island-wide bus fares to include a yearly pass of unlimited rides at a much reduced cost for all rider classifications (relative to both individual fares and the rate for monthly passes): $350  a year for students, persons with a disability or seniors (60+) and $500 a year for all others.

Re: “Unsafe Flora”    

Tuesday August 20th at 1:00 pm – Comm. 246.7 – Bill 64 – amends the code relating to clearing occupied and unoccupied lots containing so-called “unsafe flora”.

The bill from, Council Member Zendo Kern, provides options through the County to property owners that are impacted by unsafe flora on occupied or unoccupied properties adjacent to or abutting their properties. Currently individuals must seek relief in the civil courts, which is lengthy and costly.

MW Amendment: My amendment to the bill, Comm. 246.7, adds language to clarify that (1) the hazard must be a clear and present danger, (2) that the County  shall take into consideration whether a complaining party contributed to the degree of danger (such as by building by a tree lined property line);  and (3) that in cases where the potential hazard only involves private property, the County may require that the complaining party deposit with the County the estimated expense of clearing the affected area.

Re: Ag Home Rule

Wednesday August 21st at 9:00 am – Resolution 156 –

MW Resolution: My resolution requests the 2014 Hawai‘i State Association of Counties to include a Bill relating to County home rule on agricultural issues be sent to the State Legislature. [Last year there was an effort to gut the County’s home rule statute with regard to all matters to do with health and wellbeing – including matters concerning agriculture. I testified in opposition to this bill, which although it passed in the Senate with only one senator in opposition, was defeated in the House. The Counties must stand up for home rule… Or, do you want an ocean between you and the first layer of government on matters of agriculture, health and wellbeing?

Re: High Stakes Bingo     

Wednesday August 21st at 9:00 am – Resolution 158 –

MW Resolution: My resolution requests the 2014 Hawai‘i State Association of Counties to include a Bill allowing high stakes bingo as a new revenue source be sent to the State Legislature. I am committed to finding ways to make life more affordable on this island, and stop the spiraling up of property taxes and registration fees. Whereas casino level gambling brings along many social ills, high-stakes bingo is for lesser jackpots and often is housed in multi-purpose buildings.  This is not to say there are not real concerns about introducing any forms of gaming, so if you have alternative ideas as to how we can address our severe revenue needs, please come testify.

Other legislation of interest

Re: Ag Tourism

Tuesday August 20th at 2:00 pm – Comm. 368 – Bill 104 –The bill from Council Member Zendo Kern adds and clarifies definitions, guidelines, procedures and types of use for “major” and “minor” agricultural tourism activities and sets forth specific regulations for each. This purpose of this bill is to promote more ag tourism by adding a new classification, with fewer requirements, for “minor” ag tourism operations.

While I am supportive of promoting ag tourism, I do not want to do so without addressing neighboring property owner’s concerns relating to how these changes will adversely affect the quality of life in their neighborhood.  For example, we need to prevent traffic congestion and ensure adequate parking.

Re: Revised Bill 79 (GMO)

MW Bill: Scheduled for the next council committee meeting, on September 4th 9 a.m. in Hilo. Testimony on the revision of my GMO Bill 79(to restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crop) is expected to be heard the afternoon of September 4th. Public testimony is welcome. (Councilmember Brenda Ford may also submit her own GMO bill)

Councilwoman Wille on Killed GMO Bill

The council members generally recognized there is a need to restrict any further introduction of the GMOs here on our island offering suggestions to address those concerns. Given the current presence of some genetically modified crops here, the challenge is to move forward in a manner that is pono and  minimize the impact on those adversely affected by any restrictions.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Bill 79 was cumbersome with layers of amendments.  For this reason, I withdrew the bill in order to submit a clean, simpler version.  This “withdrawal” was simply a good procedural move, and should not be interpreted as any less resolve on my part to meaningful legislation.

One suggestion being considered is whether to set up a council ad hoc committee (comprised of up to 4 members of the council) to address related issues and how best to implement and enforce legislation. I submitted this possible format for this ad hoc committee at the August 6th council meeting in Communication.

Home rule issue:  If Hawaii County residents want to limit the spread of GMO crops and plants on this island, we need to have an ordinance in place before the end of the year.  Otherwise, we can expect the biotech companies to seek and easily lobby for passage of legislation prohibiting any county level laws that may interfere with the biotech corporate agendas (During this last legislative session, Monsanto and associates sought to pass SB727 which would have gutted county government).  For this reason any effort to postpone passage of a bill restricting GMOs beyond December 2013 is tantamount to killing the bill.

Thank you.  I do want to thank all who have submitted written or oral testimony. Just this past week I finally received all written testimony to the council for the July 2nd hearing and I have read through almost all of the 1000+ letters in support of Bill 79, and the approximate 100 opposition letters.  Prior to the August 6th hearing we again heard from many, both in support and in opposition and I have also read through this wave of emails as well.

The next GMO hearing on my successor version to Bill 79 is expected to be scheduled in Hilo for September 6th at 9:00 a.m.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Special Interest Legislation Introduced by Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille sent out a newsletter yesterday and she had the following special interest legislation that she is introducing at the upcoming council meetings on March 12th and March 13th.

margaretwille

Department of Environmental Management to provide a comprehensive overview of its solid waste programs – Comm. 169 (9:45 am 3/12/13)

I am requesting this presentation so that the Council is not asked to approve solid waste contracts on a piecemeal –case by case basis – without first having a comprehensive understanding of this important responsibility of County government.   

Urging the Mayor to Immediately Implement the West Hawai‘i School Impact Fee – Reso. 75 (10:45 am 3/12/13)

I am introducing this Resolution because of  Mayor Kenoi’s Administration’s on-going refusal to implement DOE’s West Hawaii School Impact Fee program.

Audit of the Police Department’s Receipt, Storage, and Disposal of Evidence – Reso.78  (1 pm 3/12/13)

I am requesting this audit to promote and reinforce trust in government and ensure that all evidence and confiscated property is being properly handled.

Corporation Counsel Conflict of Interest – Reso. 53   (9:20 am 3/13/13)

I introduced this resolution to address the conflict of interest of having one attorney (Corporation Counsel/Lincoln Ashida) have primary responsibility for simultaneously representing the Executive and the Legislative branches of the County government – and at the same time also being a member of the Mayor’s cabinet. A majority of the Council opposed having a separation of representation for the County Council, so this legislation has been forwarded to the full Council with a negative recommendation.

Commission Nominations-

Mr. Oliver “Sonny” Shimaoka of Council District 9 to the County of Hawai‘i Transportation Commission – Comm. 170 (9:15 am 3/12/13)

Other Legislation of Interest-

Report of Change Orders Authorized – Comm. 3.5 & 3.6 (1 pm 3/12/13)

There is concern about the large amount of overruns related to contracts with the County – some as high as 8 fold.  

Organic Waste Diversion 10 year contract – Reso 31 (9:20 am 3/13/13)

This is a request for authorization for a long-term contract about an important component of our solid waste program.

To view County Council & Committee TV, link here www.naleo.tv/tv-schedules/channel-52/ To follow state legislation link here www.capitol.hawaii.gov/

Margaret Wille – Council Member, District 9 – North & South Kohala, 64-1067 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kamuela, HI 96743,  PH: 808-887-2069; mwille@co.hawaii.hi.us

 

Councilwoman Margaret Wille Speaks About “Appreciation” at Opening of the Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival

Hawaii Councilwoman Margaret Wille posted the following on her Facebook site regarding “appreciation” at today’s Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival:

Opening Ceremony speakers were supposed to be: Mayor Kenoi, myself, and the consulate general from Japan, but the Mayor did not show up. Wally Lau then arrived and spoke in his place.

Waimea Cherry Fest
I spoke about this day as a day of Appreciation

 Appreciation for our kupuna and in memory of Ann Gomes and her husband… David Gomes one of our community’s living treasures.

Appreciation for the beauty of nature around us here on this island and especially in Waimea where the mountains and the streams and forests meet the plains and the pastures, and as epitomized by our Waimea cherry trees.

Waimea Cherry Fest 2
Appreciation of our alliances with our Asian Pacific ohana sister nations, especially Japan — from where we received the cherry trees.

And appreciation of the contributions of our Japanese ohana and all its contributions past present and future.

And finally appreciation of each other — our alliances among ourselves sharing this special place we live and enjoy.