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)

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