August 28, 2001
Contacts: Rep. Felipe Abinsay, 586-6010
Rep. Ezra Kanoho, 586-6270


Two State House committees have jointly scheduled a series of briefings to examine whether the Legislature is living up to its Constitutional responsibilities with regard to land use policies and practices, according to Rep. Ezra Kanoho, chair, House Committee on Water & Land Use.

The first briefing will be held Wednesday, August 29, in Room 329 of the State Capitol beginning at 9 a.m. Representatives of the State Land Use Commission have been asked to appear before a panel made up of members of Kanoho's committee and the House Committee on Agriculture, chaired by Rep. Felipe "Jun" Abinsay.

"Article XI, Section 3, of the Hawaii State Constitution spells out the legislative mandate with regard to the appropriate uses of State land," Kanoho said.

"We will be focusing strongly on agricultural lands and uses," added Abinsay, "because of the tremendous changes that have taken place in agriculture, in particular, the changes in the sugar and pineapple industries."

Kanoho said the goal is to introduce a bill during the 2001 Session that addresses the Constitutional mandate to conserve and protect agricultural lands, to promote diversified agriculture, to increase agricultural self-sufficiency, and to assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands.

"We have to ask whether the actions we have taken over the past two decades, including the reclassifying and rezoning of lands, were justified," Abinsay said. "And that requires we gather information from the respective State agencies, the counties, private landowners, and non-governmental organizations."

Future hearings and scheduled information sources are as follows:

Thursday, Sept. 6     State Department of Agriculture, State Department of Land & Natural Resources, State Office of Planning, University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and representatives from the State's four county councils.

Wednesday, Sept. 12     Landowners, developers, conservation groups, and the general public.

All hearings are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in State Capitol Room 329.

Kanoho said that once a proposed bill is drafted, he hopes to conduct hearings on the bill on Oahu and the Neighbor Islands.