Thursday, May 14, 2009


DIGGIN’ DEEPER: We’re back to looking at some of the bills that are either relevant to Kaua`i or that we’ve mentioned during the legislative sessions that were passed by the legislature and await the governor’s signature or veto by July 15.

One that sounds good to some but may be one of the worst bills in the lot due to both intended and unintended results is, HB589 HD1 SD2 CD1 “Relating To Renewable Energy Facilities”. It “(e)xempts leases and easements for renewable energy projects from subdivision requirements; defines ‘subdivision requirements’”.

While “fast tracking” renewable energy projects may sound appealing what this does is give projects a pass on many county permitting restrictions. That means that large scale projects may come under some limited scrutiny but approval is guaranteed- and it automatically happens if 90 days pass without county action on an application.

Although it provides for the counties passing administrative rules regarding these “renewable energy projects” none are currently in place meaning that if someone applies the day after the bill is signed it would be impossible for the county to scrutinize it at all since it takes many months to pass those administrative rules in accordance with HRS Chapter 91.

In addition it doesn’t define “renewable energy”. That means that things like dirty technologies will be springing up everywhere and anywhere- things such as garbage to energy incinerators, bio-diesel plants and even hydro-electric projects all without any county say so.

Farmers who produce renewable energy would be able to get “preferential rates” from their electric company when they sell it under HB591 HD1 SD2 which “(a)uthorizes preferential rates for the purchase of renewable energy produced in conjunction with agricultural activities.”. It will encourage farmers to set up renewable energy projects on their farms since they can get a fair price for their excess power and even serve to sustain some farms.

For that past decade or so charities in Hawai`i have been free of state regulation. But after an excellent series on charity abuses by the Honolulu Advertiser’s Rob Perez, all that will change if HB618 SD2 CD1 is signed .

It establishes “The Uniform Prudent Management Of Institutional Funds Act”. The particulars are many and varied but essentially it would bring about long needed transparency to non-profit organizations in the state. They used to answer only to the IRS but if it’s signed they would now have to meet the kind of standards that most other states require.

Kaua`i has a plethora of “private” roads and right now when there’s an abandoned car on one the county won’t haul it away. If HB1422 HD1 SD1 CD1 makes the cut the county will be able to do so.

Another bill to help legitimate farmers is one to allow "agricultural education programs" to supplement farming operations. That’s defined as “activities or events designed to promote knowledge and understanding of agricultural activities and practices conducted on a farming operation”. They have to be “accessorily or secondary” to the farming operations (as defined by in HRS 165-2) and still must meet county permitting requirements. It does not mention overnight accommodations.

It’s been a nightmare getting timely records from the Bureau of Conveyances. Sometimes it has taken forever and a day to get up-to-date records of who owns what land.

SB521 SD2 HD1 “(r)equires the registrar of the bureau of conveyances to provide, within 10 days after each week and free of charge, an image and index of all documents and instruments that have been recorded in the registrar's office that week relating to regular system land in all the counties, to the county designated in a memorandum of understanding agreed upon by the counties to act as a central clearinghouse”.

Why Hawai`i needs SB1005 SD2 HD2 CD1 is not apparent since it seems that federal copyright laws should suffice but nonetheless it would (e)stablish... property rights in the commercial use of a person's name, voice, signature, or likeness”. It’s long, rambling and very specific and knowing the legislature’s penchant for shoddy rush job legislation we’ll bet dollars to donuts it does something completely unintended.

Finally, even though many thought it became law last year, a bill to allow everyone to hang their clothes on a clothes line was for some idiotic reason vetoed by the governor and for some equally insane reason the veto was not overturned. SB1338 SD2 HD2 CD1 will serve to try again to “(a)llow... the use of clotheslines on any privately owned single‑family residential dwelling or townhouse.

If you didn’t find your bill here check the full list.

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