The state legislature has only one day left to settle House and Senate differences on all money-related bills for final passage next week. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka is following one measure that has broad-based community support.
Senate Bill 3095 is one of a number of bills being held up as the Senate and House money committees tally spending to balance the overall budget. But, the introducer of the bill, Senator Russell Ruderman, says money is not the issue. He says the most important component of the measure is requiring large commercial pesticide users to report restricted pesticide use to the state Department of Agriculture.
“What I’m most concerned about is that we have specific geographic locations for pesticide reporting. The Senate’s proposal, as I understand it, is to lump all the information together by county, by year, so no one will ever be able to know who sprayed what, where. And that’s very important because if we’re ever going to analyze health data and try to figure out, scientifically, what’s causing problems, we have to know what got spayed, where.”
Autumn Ness works for the Hawai’i Center for Food Safety on Maui. She also says reporting restricted pesticide use is what’s needed statewide.
“The huge part for me is the disclosure section requiring the largest users of restricted use pesticides to just share information with their community. The joint fact-finding study, a couple of years ago sponsored by the state, said they don’t have enough data to correlate whether issues we’re having in our communities and our environment come from pesticide use. So this is asking for data.”
The bill would also create pesticide buffer zones around schools during school hours and ban the use of the pesticide, Chlorpyrofos.
Former Kaua’i state senator and county councilmember, Gary Hooser, says Hawai’i would be the first state to ban the neurotoxin, and, that, has extensive community support.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics, organizations who are charged with children’s doctors are supporting this one hundred percent, Hawai’i teachers are supporting it, the Hawai’i Nurses Association is supporting it. The House already passed it unanimously, so I cannot imagine the Senate not wanting to follow suit. I’m a little worried about the details and the timing, but I’m hopeful we’ll move forward with it.”
Meanwhile, Senator Ruderman, who represents Puna, says the House and Senate have basic disagreements on the bill but that could be settled quickly.
“We’re close enough, we can agree with the House draft. They gave us a clean bill with an effective date and it’s a very good, simple, straight forward bill. We can at any point choose to agree to their position and that’s my hope. And that’s almost all the activists’ hope that that’s what we’ll do and not dilute it.”
The Conference Committee of Senate Bill 3095 is scheduled to re-convene to work on the measure before the Friday, midnight deadline. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.