Legislative Score Card

The 2010 legislative session is pau, so let’s recap the status of five environment-related bills and see how they did.


Published:

Plastic and Paper Bags

DID NOT PASS

Bill

SB2559: Requires businesses across the state to collect a 5-cent fee for each plastic or paper disposable checkout bag.

Advocates Said

“Hawaii residents consume 400 million plastic bags annually, and most end up in landfills or the ocean. This bill was modeled after Washington, D.C.’s bag fee bill, which reduced plastic bag use by 80 percent,” says Stuart Coleman, Hawaii coordinator, of the Surfrider Foundation. 

Opponents Said

“The bill is counter-productive and yet another tax burden on Hawaii’s families. It is not about recycling; it is about more money for the government and tax collection by business,” says state Sen. Sam Slom.

 

Clean Energy Bonds

DID NOT PASS

Bill

HB2643: Provides access to easy financing for homeowners who want to install renewable-energy systems on their property.

Advocates Said

“Described by Harvard Business Review as a ‘Breakthrough Idea for 2010,’ this measure would have created new green jobs, helped average homeowners save money and moved Hawaii off dirty fossil fuels,” says Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club Hawaii.

Opponents Said

“This bill unfairly targets our local Chinese community, which has traditions of serving shark-fin soup for special occasions such as weddings, important business dinners, New Year’s Day, as well as for medicinal practices,” says state Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu.

 

Shark Fins

PASSED

Bill

SB2169: Prohibits the possession, sale or distribution of a shark or shark parts in the state.

Advocates Said

“Sharks are family guardians or aumakua for all Pacific islanders and are found in mythology, chants, legends and genealogies. Shark-fin soup is a Chinese tradition (not culture) reserved for the wealthy,” says state Sen. Clayton Hee.

Opponents Said

“This bill unfairly targets our local Chinese community, which has traditions of serving shark-fin soup for special occasions such as weddings, important business dinners, New Year’s Day, as well as for medicinal practices,” says state Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu.

 

Public Beach Access

PASSED

Bill

HB1808: Requires private-property owners to keep areas seaward of the highest wash of the waves passable and free from human-induced, enhanced or unmaintained vegetation.

Advocates Said

“The trend by some beachfront landowners to artificially cultivate vegetation that interferes with transit along beaches can now be stopped as this bill adds human-induced vegetation to the list of illegal impediments,” says Lucinda Pyles, homeowner.

Opponents Said

“Cutting back vegetation like native naupaka kahakai does not increase access in erosion prone areas, but causes ecological damage, exacerbates erosion and leads to impassable seawalls. This bill is short-sighted and destructive,” says Stanton Johnston, homeowner.

 

Barrel Tax

PASSED

Bill

HB2421: Increases the per-barrel tax on imported oil products from 5 cents to $1.05, to fund clean-energy development and the general fund.

Advocates Said

“The barrel tax will be a down payment on Hawaii’s clean energy future. It makes sense to tap the source of our problem—imported oil—to fund clean energy solutions,” says Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation. (The bill passed after a veto override.)

Opponents Said

Gov. Lingle’s veto message states: “… Raises taxes on Hawaii residents and businesses by an estimated $22 million per year … deceptively implies these funds will be used to address the state’s dependence on imported fuel and food.”

 

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