Honolulu, Hawaii



RE:    S.B. No. 774

       S.D. 1




Honorable Donna Mercado Kim

President of the Senate

Twenty-Eighth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2015

State of Hawaii




     Your Committee on Ways and Means, to which was referred S.B. No. 774 entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


     The purpose and intent of this measure is to protect public lands that were or are used for taro production.


     Specifically, this measure:


(1)  Establishes lands that were in wetland taro cultivation prior to statehood or lands that retain historical structural evidence of wetland taro cultivation as the fourth class of intensive agricultural use lands;


(2)  Authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources, in conjunction with the Taro Security and Purity Task Force, to create an inventory of taro lands; and


(3)  Appropriates funds to the Board of Land and Natural Resources to create an inventory of classified taro lands.


     Your Committee received written comments in support of this measure from the Aha Moku Advisory Council, Taro Security and Purity Task Force, and three individuals.  Your Committee received written comments on this measure from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs.


     Your Committee finds that one-third of the six million pounds of taro consumed annually in Hawaii is already imported from other countries.  Without action, this production shortfall will only grow because of the specific land characteristics required for taro production, the loss of valuable taro-growing land to private sector developers, and rising costs of land leases.  Your Committee believes that providing wetland taro lands with the protections afforded to other intensive agricultural use lands will help local farmers meet Hawaii's demand for taro, address a growing interest in traditional Hawaiian taro cultivation, and promote food sustainability within the State.


     Your Committee has amended this measure by:


     (1)  Amending the definition of taro lands to require the lands to be public lands in the conservation district pursuant to chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes; and


     (2)  Clarifying the Hawaiian language terms;


     (3)  Changing the effective date to July 1, 2050, to facilitate further discussion; and


     (4)  Making technical nonsubstantive amendments for purposes of style, clarity, and consistency.


     As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Ways and Means that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 774, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Third Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 774, S.D. 1.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Ways and Means,