On March 21, the Senate Water and Land and Public Safety Committees held a joint hearing on the Sustainable Living Research Act bill. They voted to defer it. This means the bill is no longer alive this session. Senator Malama Solomon, the Water and Land Committee Chair acknowledged the substantial amount of written testimony in support of the bill. Elizabeth Dunne, an environmental attorney who has been helping the Alliance with the bill’s language and lobbying efforts, provided live testimony in support and answered committee members’ questions.
While the legislators supported the concept, they were ultimately concerned about a number of issues raised by the counties who testified in opposition. County of Hawaii’s Planning Director, who testified in person against the bill, cited concerns about enforcement and liability and questioned whether the planning department was the best entity to administer the permit process.
The great news is that we got pretty far this year — through all the House committees!!
This means that the bill will start in the Senate next year. Moving forward, we need to: (1) further engage the planning departments of all counties to address their concerns about the sustainable living research site act permit process; (2) continue to educate the legislators on this important issue; (3) build a network of supporters on all islands; and (4) work on the language of the bill to best achieve our objectives while accounting for the concerns raised by interested parties.