Second Lateral Bill Updates

Below is an update of our bill priorities as of second lateral, when bills must move to their final committee in their non-originating chamber.

Carbon Free Hawaiʻi

  • Carbon Pricing

    • HB 1584 – [Support] Office of Planning to conduct a comprehensive study of a statewide carbon tax. WAM.

  • Clean Energy

    • HB 307 – [Oppose] Broadens the definition of "renewable energy" to include other self-replenishing non-fossil fuel resources. EET/CPH.

    • HB 550 – [Support] Amends the definition of "renewable portfolio standard" to more accurately reflect the percentage of renewable energy use in the State. CPH/WAM.

    • HB 556 – [Support] Establishes minimum appliance efficiency standards for certain products sold or installed in the State. Requires the public benefits fee administrator to educate and train appliance manufacturers, distributors, and retailers about the appliance efficiency standards. CPH.

Planning for Rising Seas

  • Strengthening Coastal Zone Management Laws

    • HB 549 – [Support] Requires new developments to plan for the impacts of projected sea level rise and prohibits development in areas significantly affected by projected sea level rise. Amends policies and objectives related to coastal zone management to reduce residential exposure to coastal hazards and protect state beaches and public shoreline access. Defines "beach" and "coastal hazards". JDC/WAM.

  • Sea Level Rise planning

    • HB 461 – [Support] Requires the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission to conduct certain activities to address the impacts of sea level rise and report to the Legislature before the 2021 Regular Session. Appropriates funds for the Commission's activities and to fund the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Coordinator. WAM.

    • HB 765 – [Support] Requires incorporation of sea level rise projections in all new plans and updates to existing state plans generated under the Hawaii State Planning Act. WAM.

    • HB 1487 – [Support] Establishes the Honolulu shoreline climate protection pilot project to develop a plan to protect urban Honolulu from the impacts of sea level rise, floodwater, storms, and other impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Repeals on 6/30/2022. Appropriates funds. WAM.

Protecting Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems

    • HB 1326 – [Oppose] Allows holdover permits for stream diversions to continue until 2026. WTL/WAM.

    • HB 808 – [Support] Establishes an offense of knowingly capturing, taking, possessing, abusing, entangling, or killing a shark in state marine waters, along with penalties and fines. Expands the existing prohibition on knowingly capturing or killing a manta ray in state marine waters to apply to all rays and to also include knowingly taking, possessing, abusing, or entangling a ray. Provides certain exemptions. Effective 7/1/2050. JDC/WAM.

    • HB 551 – [Support] Extends lapse date for funds appropriated to the University of Hawaii to conduct a comprehensive statewide study of sewage contamination in nearshore marine areas. Extends lapse date for funds appropriated to the Department of Health to conduct research or gather technical assistance relating to the cesspool conversion working group's comprehensive cesspool conversion plan. WAM.

    • SCR 35 – [Support] Urging the U.S. EPA and the Hawaii Department of Health to reject the approval of a single wall tank upgrade alternative option for the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and the conclusions presented in the Groundwater Protection and Evaluations Considerations Report dated July 27, 2018.

    • SB 696 – [Support] Extends various reporting deadlines and the sunset date of the cesspool conversion working group established pursuant to Act 132, Session Laws of Hawaii 2018. Extends the lapse dates for funds appropriated to conduct a comprehensive statewide study of sewage contamination in nearshore marine areas and for research and technical assistance necessary for completion of the comprehensive cesspool conversion plan. FIN.

Land Use and Development

    • HB 593 – [Oppose] Authorizes the development of utility scale solar projects on class A agricultural lands, subject to certain requirements. Repeals 6/30/2025. WAM.

    • HB 1403 - [Oppose] Requires approval of a permit application submitted by a housing development project that uses moneys from the rental housing revolving fund if a county does not issue a decision on the application within sixty days, subject to certain requirements. Exempts the foregoing projects from environmental impact statement requirements until an update to administrative rules regarding exemptions to environmental impact statement requirements takes effect. WAM.


  • HB 1171 – [Support]. WAM. DLNR-DOFAW operating budget bill that would provide $5M to programs including:

    • Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC) prevention, early detection-rapid response, control, and outreach projects;

    • Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) research and response; and

    • Wildfire response.

  • HCR 55 - [Support] Requesting the Governor to convene a working group to make recommendations on the consolidation of state environmental functions and the establishment of a Department of the Environment. FIN.

Waste Reduction

  • Plastics

    • HB 762 – [Support] Prohibits providing straws unless requested. JDC.

    • SCR 31 – [Support] Designating the Hawaii State Capitol building and its grounds as a single-use plastic free zone. WAM.

    • SB 522 – [Support] Single-use Plastics Working Group. FIN.

  • Recycling

    • SB 893 – [Support] Prohibits counties with a population less than 500,000 from rejecting number 1 and 2 plastic bottles presented for recycling solely because the bottles are accompanied by or adjoined to nonrecyclable bottle caps. Requires and appropriates funds for the counties to separate and appropriately dispose of such nonrecyclable bottle caps. Requires the counties to include a feasibility assessment of recycling PP materials. FIN.

Common Good Coalition

  • Automatic Voter Registration

    • HB 1217 – [Support] Automatic Voter Registration for driver's license and identification card applications. JDC.

    • HB 1485 – [Support] Establishes a process for automatically preregistering or registering public school-enrolled students who are at least 16 years old.

    • SB 412 – [Support] Automatic Voter Registration for driver's license and identification card applications. FIN.

  • Taxation of Real Estate Investment Trusts

  • Social Services

    • SB 390 – [Support] Department of Agriculture to create a dollar-for-dollar match program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program who purchase Hawaii-grown produce. FIN.

OPPOSE HB1326 HD2: Free our streams from corporate water theft


The last committee changed the “unlimited” timeline to 7 years—but that is not enough. The corporate water diverters have already received an extra 3 year extension in 2016 to finish environmental impact statements that were required 15 years ago and completing the long term lease application.

CALL NOW Representative Luke and the members of the Finance Committee and ask them to vote NO on HB1326.

HB1326 was heard in the Finance committee last week. Call and email the committee and ask them to VOTE NO on HB1326. 


Chair: Luke, Sylvia 

Vice Chair: Cullen, Ty J.K. 

Committee members:
Kitagawa, Lisa (voted with reservations)

Holt, Daniel 

Todd, Chris 

Hashimoto, Troy N. 

Yamashita, Kyle T. 

Nakamura, Nadine K. 

Kobayashi, Bertrand 

Nishimoto, Scott Y. 

McDermott, Bob 

Gates, Cedric Asuega 

Matayoshi , Scot Z. 

HB1326 gives water diverters—like A&B (now Mahi Pono) and KIUC—an UNLIMITED amount of water, for an INDEFINITE amount of time, for UNKNOWN uses. This bill provides no standards or criteria for ensuring that stream ecosystems are protected from excessive water diversions.

A&B is asking lawmakers to pass HB1326—because they promised in its sale agreement with Mahi Pono that the state would give them 30 million gallons of water a day—or else A&B will have to pay Mahi Pono $62 million. But it will impact more than just East Maui. This bill would also extend temporary water permits held by others, like Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative for diverting sacred waters of Waiʻaleʻale and Waikoko.

Lawmakers are often quick to criticize DLNR for mismanagement but then turnaround and support bills like this that ensure the mismanagement could only get worse. There is no criteria or oversight written into this bill that protects streams, its native ecosystems, or the communities that depend on them for basic necessities.

There are bills in front of the legislature that set a good example of how things should be done. Bills like HB848—that provide for the protection of stream resources, while allowing stream diversions for diversified agriculture so long as it does not harm the health of the streams. However, HB848 has yet to get scheduled for a hearing.

There is enough water for everyone to prosper, it is just a matter of striking the right balance. HB1326 is basically a blank check to Mahi Pono, A&B, KIUC and others to continue the unjust practice of taking unlimited amounts of water from Hawaiʻi’s streams—to the detriment of our native ecosystems and the people that depend on them. E ola i kai wai!! Water is life!!


Mahalo nui to EVERYONE who submitted testimony in opposition to this terrible bill. There were over 600 testimonies submitted, most in opposition, with over a dozen verbal testimonies provided at the hearing. The bill was amended from providing diverters the ability to take water for an indefinite about of time to seven years, including authorization to continue diverting while permits are challenged in court.

Voting for the bill were: Committee Chairperson Ryan Yamane from Mililani, Vice Chair Chris Todd, and members Rep. Nicole Lowen, and Rep. David Tarnas, all from the Big Island, and Rep. Sharon Har, representing Kapolei. Rep. Thielen from Kailua/Kaneohe was absent and excused. Rep. Tina Wildberger from Maui was the sole no vote.

Support HB 1584 HD1: Carbon Pricing Study

Pacific Islands are amongst the first to see hard-hitting impacts of climate change—and Hawaiʻi is no exception. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change: eroding beaches and coastal roads, rain bombs and detrimental flooding, and rising sea levels and temperatures. These impacts can no longer be ignored and we are now at a critical time where we must massively reduce fossil fuel emissions. In 2015, Hawaiʻi committed to relying on 100% renewable energy sources by 2045. Then we upped the ante in 2018 by committing to be 100% carbon neutral by 2045. We must work hard to reach these goals and do more to ensure the transition to clean energy is accelerated and equitable.

Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission support carbon pricing as the most effective action to reduce emissions. However, no state has adopted a carbon tax and Hawai‘i's carbon tax could disproportionately affect low and moderate income communities if not implemented correctly. We feel the urgency of climate change but believe that whatever carbon tax is implemented needs to be the right fit for Hawai‘i. Any proposal must integrate environmental and economic justice principles while achieving measurable carbon emissions reductions. That is why one of our top priorities this session is HB 1584 - Carbon Pricing Study.

HB 1584 HD1 is being heard Wednesday, 2/13 at 2pm in room 329 in the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. Please take a couple minutes to submit your testimony today!

There are a lot of different carbon pricing options, read about some of the options in the Civil Beat today.

Past hearings:

Support SB 1339 & SB 1340: Mandatory Sea Level Rise Disclosure

Two priority bills relating to mandatory sea level rise disclosure for real estate transactions will be heard by WTL on Friday, 2/8/19 @ 1:20 PM in Room 229. Please use our testimony form below to click-and-submit testimony in support of SB 1339 and SB 1340.

SB 1339 - [Support] Requires a vulnerable coastal property purchaser statement to be executed by the purchaser or transferee with the sale or transfer of vulnerable coastal real estate.

SB 1340 - [Support] Requires that mandatory seller disclosures in real estate transactions include identification of residential real properties lying within a sea level rise exposure area.

We are also supporting HB 565, a similar House bill that combines both seller/purchaser disclosures and has already had its first committee hearing.

2019 State of the State

Governor David Ige and Marti townsend, sierra club of hawaiʻi director

Governor David Ige and Marti townsend, sierra club of hawaiʻi director

In his fifth annual State of the State Address, Governor David Ige came out strong, prioritizing the restructuring of Hawaiʻi’s education system, reallocating the Transient Accommodation Tax, building more affordable housing, and investing in Hawaiʻi’s open spaces and special lands.

Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi issued this response to Gov. Ige’s speech:

“Clearly, Governor Ige is committed to following through on his promises to the people of Hawaiʻi. He laid out a plan to ensure a brighter future for everyone here by preserving Hawaiʻi’s watersheds, investing in state parks, trails, and beaches, exploring innovative technologies in clean energy and carbon sequestration, and increasing local food production.

His well-received speech recognized the interconnectivity of the environment, housing, public infrastructure, and the economy and emphasized a holistic approach to ensuring a sustainable future for us all in Hawaiʻi.

He demonstrated real out-of-the-box leadership by identifying specific creative solutions to long-standing challenges. Although he did not specifically mention the climate change concerns, they appear to be motivating everything he is working towards to protect our collective future.”

Gov. Ige’s commitments include:

  • Increasing funding for land conservation by removing the $6.8 million cap on the 10% conveyance tax to the Legacy Land Conservation Program

  • Committing $3.9 million over two years for Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiatives to support our biosecurity plan, watershed protection, and the agricultural loan revolving fund.

  • Removing the $103 million cap in the Transient Accommodation Tax—allocating a percentage to the counties and increasing the earmarked $3 million to $10 million for trails, parks, and waters.

  • Exploring innovative technologies in renewable energy, carbon sequestration, and local food production, including sequestering carbon in locally produced concrete.

  • Constructing permanently affordable housing on state land in the urban core of Honolulu and along established public transportation routes.

You can watch the State of the State on Hawaiʻi News Now’s Facebook.

And we're off!

The 2019 Legislative Session is officially underway! Our staff and volunteers had a great time walking the halls on opening day and are geared up for session.