STAND. COM. REP. NO. 184

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

 

RE: S.B. No. 272

S.D. 1

 

 

 

Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Twenty-Ninth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2017

State of Hawaii

 

Sir:

 

Your Committees on Higher Education, Water and Land, and Agriculture and Environment, to which was referred S.B. No. 272 entitled:

 

"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO RAT LUNGWORM DISEASE,"

 

beg leave to report as follows:

 

The purpose and intent of this measure is to support programs, studies, and activities related to the prevention and eradication of rat lungworm disease by appropriating funds to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Department of Health, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Department of Agriculture.

 

Your Committees received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, University of Hawaii System, Hawaii Farm Bureau, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Hawaii Farmers Union United, Hawaii Island School Garden Network, Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, and forty-eight individuals. Your Committees received comments on this measure from the Department of Health.

 

Your Committees find that rat lungworm disease is a relatively new, but very serious, pathogen that plagues the consumption of fresh produce grown in Hawaii. Over the past fifteen years, cases of rat lungworm disease in Hawaii have been increasing in number and severity, in particular throughout areas of the Island of Hawaii. Rat lungworm disease can cause a rare type of meningitis that is extremely painful, debilitating, and even deadly. Furthermore, an extreme case of rat lungworm disease can cost over $1,000,000. Your Committees find that more research and public education are vital to understanding and preventing this disease.

 

Your Committees note the significant amount of testimony received in support of this measure, and recognize the need for numerous departments to be active participants in the fight to combat rat lungworm disease. However, your Committees find that funding for efforts to address this disease need to be centralized with one entity to ensure the most efficient use of the State's resources. Your Committees further find that it is essential to the well-being of Hawaii residents, particularly those on the Island of Hawaii, that the University of Hawaii at Hilo work with the other state departments and the Joint Rat Lungworm Task Force created in 2016 at the request of the Governor, to create a coordinated, statewide plan for addressing this important public health concern.

 

Accordingly, your Committees have amended this measure by:

 

(1) Deleting the appropriations to the Department of Health, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Department of Agriculture in order to streamline all funding for the prevention and eradication of rat lungworm disease through one entity, the University of Hawaii at Hilo;

 

(2) Inserting a blank appropriation amount for the University of Hawaii at Hilo for rat lungworm prevention and eradication;

 

(3) Including language requiring the University of Hawaii at Hilo to collaborate with the Department of Health, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, and the Governor's Joint Rat Lungworm Task Force to establish and implement efforts to prevent and eradicate rat lungworm disease;

 

(4) Inserting language requiring the University of Hawaii at Hilo to submit a comprehensive, multi-agency plan to the Legislature regarding efforts to address rat lungworm disease before the appropriated funds may be released to the University; and

 

(5) Making technical, nonsubstantive amendments for the purposes of clarity and consistency.

 

As affirmed by the records of votes of the members of your Committees on Higher Education, Water and Land, and Agriculture and Environment that are attached to this report, your Committees are in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 272, as amended herein, and recommend that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 272, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committees on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health and Ways and Means.

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committees on Higher Education, Water and Land, and Agriculture and Environment,

 

________________________________

KARL RHOADS, Chair

 

________________________________

KAIALI'I KAHELE, Chair

 

 

________________________________

MIKE GABBARD, Chair