Create a temporary State of Hawaii land evaluation and site
assessment (LESA) commission comprised of thirteen members to
update and reevaluate the 1986 LESA report and other related

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that article XI, section
 2 3, of the Hawaii State Constitution provides for standards,
 3 criteria, and procedures that are designed to conserve and
 4 protect agricultural lands and assure the long-term availability
 5 of agriculturally suitable lands.  These lands are critical to
 6 the long-term viability of agriculture as a major export industry
 7 and as a means to increase Hawaii's self-sufficiency and
 8 diversification in agriculture.
 9      The legislature further finds that in 1986, the State of
10 Hawaii land evaluation and site assessment (LESA) commission
11 submitted its final report to the legislature in accordance with
12 Act 273, Session Laws of Hawaii 1983.  The report presented the
13 commission's findings, conclusions, and recommendations
14 concerning:
15      (1)  The development of the initial inventory of the State's
16           "important agricultural lands" (IAL);
17      (2)  A classification system to identify these lands; and 
18      (3)  A process to review requests for a change in
19           designation of specific parcels from IAL to urban or to
20           other uses.

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 1 The report also provided an implementation framework and
 2 recommended amendments to existing state law to execute the
 3 proposed LESA system.
 4      Since 1986, many bills have been introduced that attempted
 5 to implement the LESA system.  For various reasons, none of these
 6 bills has succeeded in meeting all the needs and objectives of
 7 the interested parties that are affected by these land use bills.
 8      Additionally, since the completion of the LESA commission
 9 report in 1986, the profile of Hawaii's agricultural lands has
10 changed dramatically.  Such events include:
11      (1)  The dramatic industry shift from a plantation-type
12           system with an emphasis on sugarcane production to the
13           current focus on small scale and diversified
14           agriculture; and
15      (2)  Hawaii's economic decline through the 1990s.
16      In the face of changing times and circumstances, the
17 legislature finds that there is a real need to reassess the
18 system and criteria recommended by the 1986 commission.  The
19 legislature further finds that updating the 1986 LESA report will
20 provide a mechanism by which to fulfill the intent and purpose of
21 article XI, section 3, of the Hawaii State Constitution, which
22 seeks to conserve and protect agricultural lands.

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 1      The purpose of this Act is to create a new commission to
 2 update the 1986 LESA report by:
 3      (1)  Studying and recommending the best way to identify
 4           important agricultural lands;
 5      (2)  Addressing the intent of article XI, section 3, of the
 6           Hawaii State Constitution, to conserve, protect, and
 7           promote agricultural land cultivation, within the
 8           context of Hawaii's changing circumstances; and 
 9      (3)  Examining related land use issues.
10      SECTION 2.  State of Hawaii land evaluation and site
11 assessment commission.  (a)  Establishment and membership.  There
12 is established, within the office of the legislative reference
13 bureau for administrative purposes, the State of Hawaii land
14 evaluation and site assessment commission comprised of thirteen
15 voting members as follows:
16      (1)  The chairperson of the board of agriculture;
17      (2)  The chairperson of the board of land and natural
18           resources;
19      (3)  The director of the office of planning under the
20           department of business, economic development, and
21           tourism;
22      (4)  The director of the college of tropical agriculture and
23           human resources;

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 1      (5)  The planning directors of each of the four counties;
 2      (6)  Three representatives to be appointed by the governor,
 3           one member to be selected from each of the following:
 4           (A)  Land use research foundation;
 5           (B)  Office of Hawaiian affairs; and
 6           (C)  The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation;
 7      (7)  One member who shall represent agricultural workers.
 8           The president of the senate and the speaker of the
 9           house of representatives shall each nominate two
10           individuals, and the governor shall appoint one
11           individual from this nomination list; and
12      (8)  One member who shall represent a conservation
13           organization.  The president of the senate and the
14           speaker of the house of representatives shall each
15           nominate two individuals, and the governor shall
16           appoint one individual from this nomination list.
17 The chairperson of the board of agriculture shall be the
18 chairperson of the commission.  Any vacancy on the commission
19 shall be filled in the same manner in which the original position
20 was filled.  The members shall receive no compensation for their
21 services, but shall be reimbursed for travel expenses incurred in
22 the performance of their duties.
23      (b)  Purpose and operation.  The commission shall:

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 1      (1)  Reevaluate, reassess, and update the 1986 LESA report;
 2      (2)  Examine the concept of a two-tier land evaluation
 3           system by which:
 4           (A)  Land that is currently being cultivated would be
 5                held to a lower criteria standard; and
 6           (B)  Land not currently cultivated would be held to a
 7                higher criteria standard;
 8      (3)  Recommend incentives for landowners to keep their lands
 9           in agricultural production.  Such incentives may
10           include tax exemptions, agricultural easements, and
11           development rights; and
12      (4)  Examine "unique lands" as established by the U.S.
13           Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources
14           Conservation Service.  "Unique land" is land other than
15           "prime" that is currently used for the production of
16           specific high-value or high-yield crops.  Such food
17           crops include coffee, taro, rice, and watercress.
18      The commission shall exclude from its examination all lands
19 within the State urban district as well as all lands zoned for
20 urban uses by any of the four counties.
21      (c)  Public participation.  The commission shall invite the
22 participation of the general public, particularly persons having
23 an interest in agricultural lands located in the State.  Public

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 1 information meetings and hearings may be held as frequently as
 2 deemed necessary and feasible prior to submission of the
 3 commission's report.
 4      SECTION 3.  2000 report.  Prior to the convening of the
 5 regular session of 2000, the commission shall submit to the
 6 legislature a report of its findings and recommendations.  The
 7 report shall include but not be limited to:
 8      (1)  An in-depth evaluation of the LESA system as
 9           recommended in the 1986 LESA report, including a list
10           of recommendations and action items required to update
11           the system;
12      (2)  Recommended goals relating to agricultural production;
13      (3)  An analysis of the concept of a two-tier land
14           evaluation system;
15      (4)  Recommended incentives for landowners to keep their
16           lands in agricultural production;
17      (5)  A set of maps reflective of the commission's findings,
18           if appropriate; and
19      (6)  Proposed relevant legislation.
20      The commission shall cease to exist on June 30, 2000.
21      SECTION 4.  There is appropriated out of the general
22 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $         or so much
23 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 1999-2000 for the
24 commission to carry out the purposes of this Act.

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 1      SECTION 5.  The sum appropriated shall be expended by the
 2 legislative reference bureau for the purposes of this Act.
 3      SECTION 6.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval;
 4 except that section 4 shall take effect on July 1, 1999.
 6                         INTRODUCED BY:___________________________
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