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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Hawaii' Category


01
Jul

Maui County Moves Forward with GE Moratorium Initiative

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2014) Early last month, Maui County residents gathered enough signatures to require a county-wide vote on legislation that will put in place a moratorium on the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops. This achievement represents the first ever citizen driven initiative in Maui County, which encompasses Maui, Molokai and Lanai islands. The petition drive was spearheaded by the SHAKA (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina) Movement, a grassroots campaign that is “preserving paradise for future generation by reclaiming, restoring and revitalizing depleted soil, and growing healthy foods without a dependence on chemicals,” according to Mark Sheehan, a spokesman for the group. Maui’s citizen initiative is part of a growing movement on the Hawaiian Islands that seeks to protect health and the environment while strengthening local food economies and resiliency. Residents living on the Hawaiian Islands are subject to a particularly pronounced form of environmental assault, as the state’s premiere growing conditions have made it a prime target for agrichemical companies to test new, experimental forms of GE crops. Data released earlier this year reveals that high levels of restricted use pesticides, in some cases almost double the pounds per acre average of other […]

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24
Jun

Close Proximity to Pesticide-Treated Fields Increases Risk of Autism

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2014) Research from the University of California, Davis CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) study finds that pregnant women who lived within a mile of agricultural fields treated with insecticides are more likely to have their child develop autism. The results of the CHARGE study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, strengthens calls from public health and environmental groups urging regulators take a precautionary approach to agricultural chemicals and institute increased protections for those who live, work, or go to school near pesticide-treated fields. The CHARGE study looked at pregnant women’s addresses to determine their location relative to fields treated with pesticides. For women who lived less than one mile from crops sprayed with organophosphate insecticides during their pregnancy, researchers found the likelihood of their child being diagnosed with autism increased 60%. Women in the second trimester living near fields treated with chlorpyrifos, a widely used organophosphate insecticide banned for household use in 2001, are 3.3 times more likely to have their children diagnosed with autism. In response to a legal petition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012 instituted risk mitigation measures for chlorpyrifos, including reduced application rates and no-spray buffer zones […]

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28
May

Report Finds Pesticide Residues in Hawaii’s Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2014) A statewide pilot pesticide sampling project has found over 20 different types of pesticides in Hawaiian waterways, some of which are no longer registered for use in Hawaii. State officials believe the pesticides, many detected in urban areas, are from residential and golf course applications. These preliminary findings help highlight the need for local oversight of pesticide use, currently a controversial issue in the state. Conducted in partnership with the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Hawaiian Department of Health, the survey-study finds herbicides like glyphosate (Roundup) and atrazine, as well as a fungicide that is no longer registered for use in the state, contaminating the state’s waterways. The study measured pesticides in surface waters and in sediment at multiple locations in Hawaii. 25 herbicides, 11 insecticides and 6 fungicides were detected, with atrazine the most commonly found. This pilot survey responds to growing community concerns about the impacts of pesticides on local communities and ecosystems, and provides preliminary information on pesticide residues in state waterways. Recently, Kauai County passed an ordinance —Ordinance 960—  that requires public disclosure of pesticides used and the location of genetically engineered (GE) crops, as […]

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16
Apr

Public Interest Groups Intervene to Defend Kauai’s GE Law

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2014) The U.S. District Court of Hawaii granted a Motion to Intervene jointly presented by Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice on behalf of several community non-profit groups. The order allows the groups to participate in a lawsuit filed by Syngenta and other pesticide companies challenging Kauai’s County Ordinance 960, which  establishes a  county program to monitor pesticide use and genetically engineered (GE) crops. The federal order allows the groups to defend the County of Kauai’s 2013 pesticide disclosure law against the pesticide companies’ legal challenge. The non-profit groups intervening include Center for Food Safety, Surfrider Foundation, Pesticide Action Network North America, and Ka Makani Ho”˜opono. Ordinance 960 (formerly known as Bill 2491) provides residents of Kauai public access to information related to the application of pesticides used in experimental and commercial agricultural operations within the County of Kauai. It also affords County residents and their environment greater protection from and information about potential pesticide drift and the impact of growing experimental GE crops on Kauai. The Kauai County Council voted to enact Ordinance 960 in November 2013, overriding the Mayor’s veto. The Ordinance 960 is set to take effect in August. Local leaders crafted […]

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28
Jan

State Bill to Overturn Local GE and Pesticide Limits Introduced in Hawaii

Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2014) In the latest attempt to suppress the voice of local communities and scuttle the implementation of laws to protect health and the environment, last week a bill was introduced in the Hawaii State House of Representatives that will preempt (block) local governments from restricting the use of hazardous pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) crops. Though House Bill 2506 is being promoted as the expansion of the state’s “Right-to-Farm Act,” the bill will prevent the implementation of new laws recently passed in Kauai and Hawaii County. Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser explained to The Garden Island, “Both of these bills take away 100 percent of the authority of the county to regulate agriculture, which includes pesticides. It is without question an attempt to nullify Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491), as well as the ordinance passed on the Big Island.” Local communities in the Hawaiian Islands fought a number of hard-won battles last year against intrusions by agrichemical companies spraying pesticides and planting GE crops near where they work, live, and go to school. After massive outpourings of public support, numerous late-night council sessions, and overcoming a mayoral veto, Kauai County passed Bill 2491. Kauai’s Ordinance 960 requires […]

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14
Jan

Agrichemical Companies Sue to Halt Kauai Restrictions of GE Crops and Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2014) Agrichemical companies filed   a lawsuit to stop Kauai County  from moving ahead with its new law  to restrict genetically engineered (GE) agriculture and toxic pesticide applications near schools, hospitals, homes, and shorelines. As the first Hawaiian Island to pass restrictions on pesticides and GE agriculture, Kauai County saw an unprecedented outpouring of public support for Bill 2491. Despite numerous attempts by agrichemical companies to derail the bill, including personal attacks on councilmembers, and in the face of a veto by Mayor Bernard Carvalho, the residents of Kauai prevailed when the County Council chose to override the Mayor’s veto and make Bill 2491 law. Kauai’s  action for a  safe and healthy community was followed in Hawaii County by Bill 113, which restricts new GE crops. Efforts in Maui County are now underway to enact protections similar to Kauai’s. The lawsuit, filed January 11 in U.S. District Court, attempts to block Bill 2491 from coming into law (it is currently set to go into effect 9 months after its passage), and was brought forward by agrichemical company giants  DuPont, Syngenta, and Agrigenetics Inc., an affiliate of Dow Agrosciences. The suit does not come as a complete […]

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11
Dec

Maui Third Hawaiian Island to Consider Restricting Pesticides and GMOs

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2013) Following the counties of Kaua’i and Hawaii, Maui Council Member Elle Cochran has introduced legislation (full text available here) that will require disclosure of pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture. In addition, the bill requires buffer zones and a health impact study. The Council Member feels it is important to make permanent a voluntary agreement reached between the Mayor of Maui and Monsanto, according the Associated Press. Monsanto, which has written on similar legislation in the other Hawaii counties, maintains that, “Monsanto is committed to being a good neighbor and responsible business. We have very strict policies and practices in place to ensure we meet all state and federal laws, operate in a responsible and safe manner.” The Maui Farm Bureau has said that these technologies are necessary to grow food for a growing population. Kauai made history in Hawaii and worldwide in November when it enacted a law to force public disclosure of large scale production of experimental genetically engineered organisms and pesticide use. Using the authority vested in local political subdivisions by the state’s constitution, the law seeks to “to establish provisions to inform the public, and protect the public from […]

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26
Nov

Close Results on GE Labeling in Washington State Raises Public Awareness of the Trouble with Modified Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2013) With nearly all the votes counted for Washington State’s Initiative 522, results show the measure defeated by a razor thin margin. After somber reports on Election Day had the measure trailing by 11%, supporters of I-522 urged patience as ballots continued to stream in (Washington runs an all-mail voting system). The race tightened up significantly, but ultimately succumbed to a 49%Y-51%N margin. Despite the results, Washington State’s initiative made incredible progress at raising awareness of the adverse health and environmental impacts associated with genetically engineered (GE) agriculture. A number of factors also worked against the Yes campaign during the final weeks leading up to Election Day, including an enormous influx of money from agrichemical companies and food manufacturers, which financed an advertising blitz claiming the initiative would raise the cost of food. The placement of the measure on an “off-year” election also drove down voter turnout. Yeson522 co-chair Trudy Bialic explains, “There was lower than expected voter turnout this year. Despite being outspent 3-to-1, we are projecting winning 49% of the vote. We are disappointed with the results, but the polling is clear that Washingtonians support labeling and believe they have a right to know. […]

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18
Nov

GE Restrictions Become Law, Kauai Council Overrides Mayor’s Veto

(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2013) Kauai made history in Hawaii and worldwide on Saturday when it enacted a law to force public disclosure of  large scale production of  experimental genetically engineered organisms and pesticide use.  Using the  authority vested in local political subdivisions by the state’s constitution, the law seeks to “to establish provisions to inform the public, and protect the public from any direct, indirect, or cumulative negative impacts on the health and the natural environment of the people and place of the County of Kaua”˜i, by governing the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms.” The Council, with an outpouring of community support, voted 5-2 to override the Mayor’s veto of Bill 2491,  introduced by Council  Member Gary Hooser. The bill  was originally passed by the Council on October 16, 2013 by a 6-1 vote. According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser newspaper, a Syngerta attorney said, “There will definitely be a lawsuit.” The newspaper cites Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences, BASF, and Kauai Coffee, the largest coffee grower in the state, as being affected by the legislation. In addition to the public disclosure provisions that take effect in nine months, the law requires an  Environmental and Public Health […]

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04
Nov

Update: Kauai Mayor Vetoes Pesticide Use Disclosure Bill; Fight for Protections Not Over

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2013)   The hard-fought victory of Kauai residents to protect their homes, children, and natural environment from the chemical and agricultural industry’s excessive and secretive applications of pesticides was threatened last week.  Bill 2491,  passed earlier this month  and crafted to  rein in the ecosystem-threatening development of genetically  engineered crops  with their excessive reliance on pesticides, has been vetoed by Kauai’s Mayor Bernard Carvalho. The bill established much-needed disclosure, notice, and reporting mandates for commercial-scale pesticide applications, required pesticide application buffer zones for schools, hospitals, residences, public spaces, waterways, and parks, and mandated that the County perform and Environmental and Public Health Impacts Study (EPHIS). (See previous Daily News coverage for a more expanded history and discussion of the evolution of the bill.) A critical component of the bill is the inclusion of a penalties provision. Acting as a strong industry- incentive to comply with the bill’s mandates and protective measures, the penalties provision permitted civil fines of between $10,000 and $25,000 per day per violation and potential misdemeanor criminal sanctions. Mayor Carvalho defended his veto decision by saying that the bill ran afoul of a number of laws, including the Right to Farm Act, according […]

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17
Oct

Community Concerns Lead to Landmark Pesticide Protections in Kauai County

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2013) Early yesterday morning, the Kauai County (Hawaii) Council ended a grueling 19-hour session by approving new protections from pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) crops in a 6 to 1 vote on Bill 2491. After enduring years of pesticide abuse from agrichemical giants Syngenta, Dow, DuPont Pioneer, and BASF, the residents of Kauai will finally receive simple protections they and future generations on the “Garden Isle” deserve. The legislation is a major victory for the local community, which engaged in numerous non-violent rallies and demonstrations urging the council to “Pass the Bill!” Local leaders crafted Bill 2491 in response to public outcry from residents, many of whom live, work, or have children that go to school near agricultural fields leased by chemical corporations. “The people in my community have asked for help,” said Kauai County Councilmember Gary Hooser. “People are concerned.” Many in the community assert that the passage of Bill 2491 is only the beginning of local efforts to reign in excesses and abuses of agrichemical companies operating on the island. While some of the more stringent measures in the bill were removed at a previous Committee meeting earlier this month, other aspects of the […]

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01
Oct

Kauai County, Hawaii Pesticide and GE Measure Passes Council Committee

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2013) Kauai’s Committee on Environmental Development, Agriculture, and Sustainability approved a bill that requires large agricultural companies in the county to disclose the pesticides they  use. The legislation will now go to the full council for a vote. The measure, County Bill 2491, which Beyond Pesticides supported with testimony, would provide transparency and restrict the operations of DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, BASF and Kauai Coffee, on the island. In a 4-1 vote, the majority of Kauai’s council members demonstrated support for the need to improve pesticide regulations to protect the  community health and the local ecosystem. The bill, introduced by Kauai County Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum, provides long overdue protections from chemical exposure occurring on the island, requiring a 500-foot buffer zone near schools, hospitals, residential areas, public roadways and sensitive ecological sites, such as streams, rivers and shorelines. Under the bill’s language, (i) the testing of experimental pesticides are restricted only to greenhouses and other contained structures, (ii) all pesticide applications and GE crops  are to  be subject to mandatory disclosure to the county, and (iii) the use of any pesticides by these corporations will require prior notification through the public posting […]

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15
Jul

Giant Corps Have Set Up Shop in Hawaii, and They’re Wrecking the Place

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2013) They’re wrecking the place; the chemicals they produce are  polluting groundwater  and  poisoning schoolchildren. In the absence of federal and state action, local communities are rising up to confront these agrichemical giants. As a testament to the power of local change, two Hawaiian counties, Kauai and the “Big Island” of Hawaii, have introduced legislation to restrict these practices.  Monsanto, Dow, BASF, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta are using the Hawaiian Islands as their private testing grounds for experimental pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) crops, but they don’t want residents to know where these fields are and what chemicals they are spraying on them; they don’t think they have that right. Federal and state governments have, in effect, sanctioned these practices and provided cover for these corporations to spray tons of restricted use pesticides  across the islands (18 tons annually— and that’s just on the island of Kauai). Kauai County Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum recently introduced County Bill 2491, which would provide long overdue protections from some of the most egregious chemical intrusions occurring on the island. Commercial pesticide applications from these giant corporations would require a 500 ft buffer zone near schools, hospitals, residential […]

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12
Mar

Whole Foods Says It Will Label GE Food in Stores within Five Years, as States Continue Push

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2013) Despite the loss of Proposition 37 in California last November, GMO labeling efforts are moving forward throughout the United States. Late last week Whole Foods Market announced its own plan to label food with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients sold in its stores, making it the  first grocery chain in the nation to do so. In addition to the recent introduction of a National GE labeling bill in Congress by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), Hawaii, Vermont, and Minnesota join the ranks of numerous other states with pending GMO labeling legislation. Whole Foods’ plan  requires a label for all GE food sold in its stores within the next  five years. The retailer notes that the move was made in response to customers’ increased demand for labeled products. “Some of our manufacturers say they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled [as non–GMO],” explains A.C. Gallo, Whole Foods president. The chain’s labeling requirements include all of its North American stores, as its European supermarkets already require this label. The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), an industry trade group that represents a number of major food retailers including Pepsico Inc., The Coca Cola Company, Kelloggs, […]

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08
Mar

Water Testing for Atrazine Severely Lacking in Hawaii

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2013) Sugarcane and pineapple production in Hawaii is threatening aquatic life as years of atrazine applications, a pesticide regularly used for corn production too, has run off into rivers, streams, and groundwater sources. Recent reviews by Hawaiian news service Civil Beat found that water testing for the chemical is not tracked currently in the state of Hawaii, despite requirements by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulatory limits under the Clean Water Act. Instead, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture almost exclusively relies on label compliance, according to Thomas Matsuda, manager of its pesticide program. Monitoring problems have been compounded by understaffing, with only six inspectors for the state of Hawaii. Not surprising, close examination of atrazine sales records by Civil Beat indicate that the largest buyers of the chemical are Hawaiian seed corn companies Monsanto and Mycogen. Syngenta recently reached a class action settlement in City of Greeneville v. Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., providing the Kaua’i Department of Water with $6,692.96 for atrazine clean-up expenses. Atrazine is used nationwide to kill broadleaf and grassy weeds primarily in corn crops. A potent toxicant, atrazine is known to be associated with infertility, low birth weight, and abnormal infant development in […]

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28
Feb

Genetic Engineering Labeling Bill to be Introduced in U.S. Congress

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2013) Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) announced last Wednesday that he intends to co-sponsor a bill in Congress along with Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to mandate the labeling of food containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in the U.S. Earlier this week, the Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee held a public hearing on state House Bill 0903, which would set requirements for labeling and disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients in food.  Other state labeling efforts have been launched in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Oregon, Missouri and Washington. More than 90 percent of Americans believe that foods with GE ingredients should be required to be labeled; however, Rep. Polis recognizes that it is still going to be tough to get enough votes to pass. Corporate opponents have spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying against GE labeling, and a bill introduced in the state of Colorado by Representative Jeanne Labuda (D-Denver) to label GE foods was stopped after just five hours of testimony. The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee in Denver voted 7-2 against the bill just a day after Rep. Polis’ announcement. Despite testimony from concerned consumers, parents, and health advocates, the committee said the […]

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25
Feb

Public Comment Process on Pesticide Use under Attack in Several States

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2013) Both current and future pesticide laws are under assault in several states. State-run agencies in Alaska are no longer required to solicit public comments or a review process for pesticide applications on state land due to new regulations adopted by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In Maine, the state Board of Pesticides Control is considering a proposal that weakens requirements for notification of pesticide spraying in fear of West Nile Virus (WNv) problems this summer. A state bill introduced in Hawaii to require neighbors to share specific information on pesticides being used to any abutting property owners was revised by various Hawaii statehouse committees until all notification rules in the bill were removed. Alaska The decision in Alaska, which will go into effect on March 7th, allows state agencies to spray pesticides on state land without having the application subject to public comment. The new regulation replaces the former transparent process with one that only requires agencies to develop an Integrated Pest Management Plan and submit it to the DEC. This new regulation takes away the ability for the public’s input to have an impact on proposed pesticide applications on state land. The […]

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24
Jan

Funds from Atrazine Class Action Lawsuit Distributed

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2013) Checks are now being sent to 1,085 community water systems across the U.S. in the final phase of a $105 million settlement with Syngenta, the largest manufacturer of the toxic weed killer atrazine. The class action settlement, City of Greenville v. Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., Case No.: 3:10-cv-00188-JPG-PMF, stems from a lawsuit spanning eight years and is meant to help reimburse communities for past expenses associated with atrazine removal. “Science has been fighting an uphill battle against giant pesticide manufacturers like Syngenta who claim that a little weed killer in your drinking water won’t hurt you. Independent scientists now believe that even trace amounts can harm you and your children for generations to come,” the lead plaintiff’s lawyer Stephen M. Tillery told the media. Atrazine is used nationwide to kill broadleaf and grassy weeds, primarily in corn crops. A potent toxicant, it is the most prevalent herbicide found in Minnesota’s waters. It is widely applied in the midwestern states and has been found in the drinking water supplies in the Midwest at high levels. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have determined that previous studies that assessed population-based exposure to atrazine were significantly […]

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03
Jul

Concerned Oahu Citizens Demand that Monsanto Stop Poisoning Hawaii

(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2012) Several organizations, including Occupy Wall Street Maui and GMO-Free Maui, as well as over 100 concerned citizens, held a protest on Thursday, June 28 in front of the Monsanto Corporation headquarters in Kunia on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. According to the organizers, the protesters met in Kunia and marched over a half mile to the Monsanto, compound for two hours of roadside sign-waving and chanting, demanding that Monsanto leave Hawaii and saying they need real food not exported GMO seeds and chemical contamination. The group also demands that genetically engineered (GE) food be labeled. The protesters wore masks to protect themselves from pesticide drift and GE spores, and received lots of support from many in passing cars that honked their horns and waved in support. According to organizers, a nearby resident even came to find out what was going on and soon donned a mask himself as he was unaware of the dangers so close to his house. The resident expressed concern about the large trucks and equipment operating at night at Monsanto’s fields. Monsanto operates about 8,000 acres in Hawaii for GE seed production. According to organizers, these operations use the most valuable […]

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11
Feb

School Pesticide Poisonings Spur State to Consider Legislation

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2008) Growing out of concern from pesticides drifting onto school grounds, the Hawaii Senate has begun looking at adopting legislation that would better protect students and staff from nearby pesticide applications.The bill, SB 3170, will establish a 1,500 foot no-spray buffer zone for all backpack applications and a half-mile buffer zone for all aerial applications around all elementary schools. It will also require a 72-hour prior written notification to all schools in the immediate area of a pesticide application as well as a one-week prior notification of all commercial use of pesticides within a five-mile radius of any school or educational institution property to the Department of Education (DOE). DOE will then notify the appropriate schools within 72-hours of the proposed application. The bill’s author, Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, stated on his website, “A pesticide is poison. It is designed to kill. No child should be subjected to it, especially in a learning environment. To allow it doesn’t even make sense.” Many of those that spoke at the public hearing on the bill on February 4th had been impacted by the type applications the bill is trying to prevent. Kauai’s Garden Island Newspaper states that […]

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