Bills Important to the Big Island Continue Moving in the Legislature

As the 2013 legislative session hits the half way mark, proposed bills affecting the economy and quality of life for Big Island residents have been approved by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for further consideration.  Representative Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano, Pahala) has been working to keep several of those measures moving forward.


“Agriculture is an important component of life for residents who live in my district and for all of us on Hawaii Island.  I am pleased that the House has approved legislation that supports, improves and strengthens this vital part of our economy and life style. If we truly want to achieve food sustainability for Hawaii and put more local food in our markets and homes we need to assist farmers in every way we can, “said Representative Onishi.

The House also approved funding for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) to improve facilities at Keeau Middle School, and appropriated money to renovate the Keaukaha Military Reservation to house the Youth Challenge Academy.

Onishi said, “The funding for Keeau Middle School allows us to renovate the music building, and provide for the health and safety of our students by demolishing classrooms that are deemed not safe.  As for the Youth Challenge Academy, it needs to be relocated to the Keaukaha Military Reservation so that its current site, Kulani Correctional Facility, can be returned to its original and proper mission as an incarceration facility.”

Legislative Highlights for Hawaii Island:

  • HB353 – Appropriates funds to the Department of Agriculture for the United States Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center to research and develop methods for the prevention and treatment of coffee berry borer infestations. Provides a grant for the coffee berry borer task force for control of the coffee berry borer and mitigation of damage.
  • HB487 – Expands livestock feed subsidy to include feed for goats, sheep, lambs, fish and crustaceans. Creates a subsidy for qualified feed developers.
  • HB489 – Provides, under certain circumstances, an exemption from building code and permit requirements for nonresidential buildings or structures on farms.
  • HB1264 – Allows for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects. Modifies the new farmer loan program of the Department of Agriculture to promote the development of innovative technologies and to assist new farm enterprises.
  • HB1419 – Appropriates funds for personnel, operations and equipment to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES).
  • HB417 – Addresses primary care physician shortages by appropriating funds for the interdisciplinary Hawaii Health Systems Corporation primary care training program at Hilo Medical Center.

House CIP Highlights for Hawaii Island:

  • $20,000 to renovate music building at Keeau Middle School
  • $675,000 to construct covered walkways and demolish unsafe classrooms at Keeau Middle School
  • $2.5 million for improvements to Ka‘u irrigation system
  • $5.9 million to renovate Keeaukaha Military Reservation to house the Youth Challenge Academy


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