Friday, March 7, 2014


IS WOOLEY STILL A MAMMOTH?: Although many had their hair on fire last night at the news that Rep. Jessica Wooley will be leaving her post as chair of the House Agriculture Committee to head the state's the state’s Office of Environmental Quality Control, it appears others have more trust in the House to kill legislative attempts to preempt county laws that regulate pesticides and GE foods without Wooley being there any more to block them.

According to an article in Civil Beat today it may take so long to confirm her that her ability to block senate legislation that would restrict counties from regulating agricultural activities will remain in place until it's too late to do anything this session.

But Hawai`i Island Councilmember Margaret Wille still sees treachery. The article quotes her as saying “I think it's a political move to get her out of the way,” continuing by saying that before Wooley started leading the Agriculture Committee, lawmakers didn't even consider GMO labeling proposals.

But others think that even without Wooley heading the Ag Committee the House will not act until the courts do.

The article ends by saying:

Before accepting the governor's offer, Wooley said she thought about what her departure might mean for the House's handling of GMO-related issues. But after talking with her colleagues, she decided that she thinks the House will remain consistent even if she leaves.

The House passed a bill last year to require labels on some genetically modified food. And while this year the Senate has considered proposals to undermine county GMO regulations, the House has refused to hear those bills.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said Thursday that the House wants to wait until the courts decide on the merits of county rules before intervening. Several companies, including Syngenta, have sued Kauai County to protest its new law requiring more disclosure about genetic engineering and pesticide use from biotech companies.

House leadership is committed to the same policies,” Wooley said. “I don’t think anything will change as a result [of my departure].”

That rings true to Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser, former director of the OEQC. Although Hooser supports regulation of genetically modified farming, he’s confident — unlike some other activists — that the House won’t change its position.

I believe the House and the Senate have heard loud and clear from the public already that taking away the county authority to regulate and protect citizens is not good policy, nor good politics,” Hooser said.

Should anyone really trust anything that anyone in the legislature says these days? Not as long as the chemical industry is paying the bills for their re-election in November.

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