HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

1271

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to the agribusiness development corporation.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


PART I

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the agribusiness development corporation was established in 1994 to take a lead role in converting the State's agriculture lands from plantations producing mainly pineapple and sugar for export to more economically viable farms. However, a recent report from the office of the auditor, "Report No. 21-01: Audit of the Agribusiness Development Corporation" found that the corporation has not taken critical steps toward achieving its overarching goals.

Specifically, the auditor's report found that:

(1) More than twenty-five years ago, the corporation was created to develop an "aggressive and dynamic" agribusiness development program to fill the economic void created by the closure of sugar and pineapple plantations in the State; however, the corporation has done little to fill that void;

(2) The corporation's land management struggles, including inconsistent, incomplete, and in many cases non-existent recordkeeping; prospective tenants occupying lands without signed written agreements; and persistent criminal activity on its properties, expose the State to unnecessary risk; and

(3) The corporation's board of directors provides minimal guidance and oversight to the corporation.

The auditor's report found numerous other serious, troubling issues with the corporation, its director, its board, and its operations, including that the corporation continues to misunderstand its purpose; has yet to create the statutorily-required meaningful agribusiness plan, which would help ensure the corporation's work is achieving its statutory purpose and mission; does not conduct market research; has prepared only three annual reports to the governor and legislature since 2012; does not have a centralized filing system; lacks documented general policies and procedures and lacks specific policies and procedures related to the process through which matters are brought to its board of directors; and does not keep an inventory of its land portfolio nor a complete list of its projects. The report also found that the board of directors had little oversight over the executive director, which has enabled the executive director to operate with little to no accountability. Furthermore, even though the board is aware that the corporation is failing to fulfill its statutory obligations, it does not hold the executive director accountable.

The legislature finds although the office of the auditor included thirty-three recommendations for the corporation and its board, the results of the audit show that the corporation is incapable of carrying out its basic statutory responsibilities and functions and will be unable to fulfill the recommendations contained in the auditor's report.

The purpose of this Act is to:

(1) Repeal the agribusiness development corporation; and

(2) Transfer all lands held by the agribusiness development corporation and all of its staff, except for the executive director, to the department of agriculture.

PART II

SECTION 2. Chapter 163D, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.

PART III

SECTION 3. Section 10-41, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

" (a) The training required by this part shall apply to members of the land use commission, board of land and natural resources, commission on water resource management, environmental council, [board of directors of the agribusiness development corporation,] board of agriculture, legacy land conservation commission, natural area reserves system commission, and Hawaii historic places review board."

SECTION 4. Section 84-17, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (d) to read as follows:

"(d) The financial disclosure statements of the following persons shall be public records and available for inspection and duplication:

(1) The governor, the lieutenant governor, the members of the legislature, candidates for and delegates to the constitutional convention, the trustees of the office of Hawaiian affairs, and candidates for state elective offices;

(2) The directors of the state departments and their deputies, regardless of the titles by which the foregoing persons are designated; provided that with respect to the department of the attorney general, the foregoing shall apply only to the attorney general and the first deputy attorney general;

(3) The administrative director of the State;

(4) The president, the vice presidents, the assistant vice presidents, the chancellors, members of the board of regents, and the provosts of the University of Hawaii;

(5) The members of the board of education and the superintendent, the deputy superintendent, the state librarian, and the deputy state librarian of the department of education;

(6) The administrative director and the deputy director of the courts;

(7) The administrator and the assistant administrator of the office of Hawaiian affairs; and

(8) The members of the following state boards, commissions, and agencies:

[(A) The board of directors of the agribusiness development corporation established under section 163D-3;

(B)] (A) The board of agriculture established under section 26-16;

[(C)] (B) The state ethics commission established under section 84-21;

[(D)] (C) The Hawaii community development authority established under section 206E-3;

[(E)] (D) The Hawaiian homes commission established under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, as amended, and section 26-17;

[(F)] (E) The board of directors of the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation established under section 201H-3;

[(G)] (F) The board of land and natural resources established under section 171-4;

[(H)] (G) The state land use commission established under section 205-1;

[(I)] (H) The legacy land conservation commission established under section 173A-2.4;

[(J)] (I) The natural area reserves system commission established under section 195-6;

[(K)] (J) The board of directors of the natural energy laboratory of Hawaii authority established under section 227D-2;

[(L)] (K) The board of directors of the Hawaii public housing authority established under section 356D‑3;

[(M)] (L) The public utilities commission established under section 269-2; and

[(N)] (M) The commission on water resource management established under section 174C-7."

SECTION 5. Section 141-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"141-2 Rules. Subject to chapter 91, the department of agriculture shall adopt, amend, and repeal rules not inconsistent with law, for and concerning:

(1) The introduction, transportation, and propagation of trees, shrubs, herbs, and other plants;

(2) The quarantine, inspection, fumigation, disinfection, destruction, or exclusion, either upon introduction into the State, or at any time or place within the State, of any nursery-stock, tree, shrub, herb, vine, cut-flower, cutting, graft, scion, bud, seed, leaf, root, or rhizome; any nut, fruit, or vegetable; any grain, cereal, or legume in the natural or raw state; any moss, hay, straw, dry-grass, or other forage; any unmanufactured log, limb, or timber; or any other plant growth or plant product unprocessed or in the raw state; any sand, soil, or earth; any live bird, reptile, insect, or other animal, in any stage of development, that is in addition to the so-called domestic animals, which are provided for in section 142-2; and any box, barrel, crate, or other containers in which the articles, substances, or objects have been transported or contained, and any packing material used in connection therewith, that is or may be diseased or infested with insects or likely to assist in the transmission or dissemination of any insect or plant disease injurious, harmful, or detrimental, or likely to become injurious, harmful, or detrimental to the agricultural or horticultural industries or the forests of the State, or that is or may be in itself injurious, harmful, or detrimental to the same; provided that included therein may be rules governing the transportation of any of the articles, substances, or objects enumerated above in this section between different localities on any one of the islands within the State;

(3) The prohibition of importation into the State, from any or all foreign countries or from other parts of the United States, or the shipment from one island within the State to another island therein, or the transportation from one part or locality of any island to another part or locality of the same island, of any specific article, substance, or object or class of articles, substances, or objects, among those enumerated above in this section, that is diseased or infested with insects or likely to assist in the transmission or dissemination of any insect or plant disease injurious, harmful, or detrimental or likely to be injurious, harmful, or detrimental to the agricultural or horticultural industries, or the forests of the State, or that is or may be in itself injurious, harmful, or detrimental to the same;

(4) The preparation by cargo carriers of manifests of cargo transported into the State or between islands of the State and the submission of the manifests to the department;

(5) The establishment, maintenance, and enforcement of compliance agreements with federal or state departments of agriculture authorizing agriculture inspectors from the state of origin in the case of imports to the State, or state agricultural inspectors in the case of state exports, to monitor the growing and packing of plant commodities and any treatment procedures to ensure compliance with quarantine laws, and further authorizing the assessment of fees for conducting inspections required under the compliance agreement; and

(6) The manner in which agricultural product promotion and research activities may be undertaken, after coordinating with the [agribusiness development corporation.] department of agriculture.

All rules adopted under this section shall have the force and effect of law."

SECTION 6. Section 171-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"171-2 Definition of public lands. "Public lands" means all lands or interest therein in the State classed as government or crown lands previous to August 15, 1895, or acquired or reserved by the government upon or subsequent to that date by purchase, exchange, escheat, or the exercise of the right of eminent domain, or in any other manner; including lands accreted after May 20, 2003, and not otherwise awarded, submerged lands, and lands beneath tidal waters that are suitable for reclamation, together with reclaimed lands that have been given the status of public lands under this chapter, except:

(1) Lands designated in section 203 of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, as amended;

(2) Lands set aside pursuant to law for the use of the United States;

(3) Lands being used for roads and streets;

(4) Lands to which the United States relinquished the absolute fee and ownership under section 91 of the Hawaiian Organic Act prior to the admission of Hawaii as a state of the United States unless subsequently placed under the control of the board of land and natural resources and given the status of public lands in accordance with the state constitution, the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, as amended, or other laws;

(5) Lands to which the University of Hawaii holds title;

(6) Lands to which the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation in its corporate capacity holds title;

(7) Lands to which the Hawaii community development authority in its corporate capacity holds title;

(8) Lands set aside by the governor to the Hawaii public housing authority or lands to which the Hawaii public housing authority in its corporate capacity holds title;

(9) Lands to which the department of agriculture holds title by way of foreclosure, voluntary surrender, or otherwise, to recover moneys loaned or to recover debts otherwise owed the department under chapter 167;

(10) Lands that are set aside by the governor to the Aloha Tower development corporation; lands leased to the Aloha Tower development corporation by any department or agency of the State; or lands to which the Aloha Tower development corporation holds title in its corporate capacity;

(11) Lands that [are] were set aside by the governor to the agribusiness development corporation; lands that were leased to the agribusiness development corporation by any department or agency of the State; or lands to which the agribusiness development corporation in its corporate capacity [holds] held title[;], but were transferred to the department of agriculture pursuant to Act    , Session Laws of Hawaii 2021;

(12) Lands to which the Hawaii technology development corporation in its corporate capacity holds title; and

(13) Lands to which the department of education holds title;

provided that, except as otherwise limited under federal law and except for state land used as an airport as defined in section 262-1, public lands shall include the air rights over any portion of state land upon which a county mass transit project is developed after July 11, 2005."

SECTION 7. Section 171-64.7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) This section applies to all lands or interest therein owned or under the control of state departments and agencies classed as government or crown lands previous to August 15, 1895, or acquired or reserved by the government upon or subsequent to that date by purchase, exchange, escheat, or the exercise of the right of eminent domain, or any other manner, including accreted lands not otherwise awarded, submerged lands, and lands beneath tidal waters that are suitable for reclamation, together with reclaimed lands that have been given the status of public lands under this chapter, including:

(1) Land set aside pursuant to law for the use of the United States;

(2) Land to which the United States relinquished the absolute fee and ownership under section 91 of the Organic Act prior to the admission of Hawaii as a state of the United States;

(3) Land to which the University of Hawaii holds title;

(4) Land to which the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation in its corporate capacity holds title;

(5) Land to which the department of agriculture holds title by way of foreclosure, voluntary surrender, or otherwise, to recover moneys loaned or to recover debts otherwise owed the department under chapter 167;

(6) Land that is set aside by the governor to the Aloha Tower development corporation; or land to which the Aloha Tower development corporation holds title in its corporate capacity;

(7) Land that [is] was set aside by the governor to the agribusiness development corporation; or land to which the agribusiness development corporation in its corporate capacity [holds] held title[;], but was transferred to the department of agriculture pursuant to Act    , Session Laws of Hawaii 2021;

(8) Land to which the Hawaii technology development corporation in its corporate capacity holds title;

(9) Land to which the department of education holds title; and

(10) Land to which the Hawaii public housing authority in its corporate capacity holds title."

SECTION 8. Section 173A-4, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsections (c) and (d) to read as follows:

"(c) The board, in consultation with the senate president and the speaker of the house of representatives, shall require as a condition of the receipt of funds that state and county agencies receiving funds under this chapter provide a conservation easement under chapter 198, or an agricultural easement or deed restriction or covenant to the department of land and natural resources; the department of agriculture; [the agribusiness development corporation;] an appropriate land conservation organization; or a county, state, or federal natural resource conservation agency, that shall run with the land and be recorded with the land to ensure the long-term protection of land having value as a resource to the State and preserve the interests of the State. The board shall require as a condition of the receipt of funds that it be an owner of a conservation easement.

(d) The board, in consultation with the senate president and the speaker of the house of representatives, shall require as a condition of the receipt of funds that nonprofit land conservation organizations receiving funds under this chapter provide a conservation easement under chapter 198, or an agricultural easement or deed restriction or covenant to the department of land and natural resources; the department of agriculture; [the agribusiness development corporation;] an appropriate land conservation agency; or an appropriate county, state, or federal natural resource conservation agency, that shall run with the land and be recorded with the land to ensure the long-term protection of land having value as a resource to the State and preserve the interests of the State. The board shall require as a condition of the receipt of funds that it be an owner of a conservation easement."

SECTION 9. Section 173A-5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (i) to read as follows:

"(i) Based on applications from state agencies, counties, and nonprofit land conservation organizations, the department, in consultation with the senate president and speaker of the house of representatives, shall recommend to the board specific parcels of land to be acquired, restricted with conservation easements, or preserved in similar fashion. The board shall review the selections and approve or reject the selections according to the availability of moneys in the fund. To be eligible for grants from the fund, state and county agencies and nonprofit land conservation organizations shall submit applications to the department that contain:

(1) Contact information for the project;

(2) A description of the project;

(3) The request for funding;

(4) Cost estimates for acquisition of the interest in the land;

(5) Location and characteristics of the land;

(6) The project's public benefits, including but not limited to where public access may be practicable or not practicable and why;

(7) Results of the applicant's consultation with the staff of the department[,] and the department of agriculture[, and the agribusiness development corporation] regarding the maximization of public benefits of the project, where practicable; and

(8) Other similar, related, or relevant information as determined by the department."

SECTION 10. Section 205-49, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:

"(b) Copies of the maps of important agricultural lands adopted under this section shall be transmitted to each county planning department and county council, the department of agriculture, [the agribusiness development corporation,] the office of planning, and other state agencies involved in land use matters. The maps of important agricultural lands shall guide all decision-making on the proposed reclassification or rezoning of important agricultural lands, state agricultural development programs, and other state and county land use planning and decision-making."

PART IV

SECTION 11. All lands set aside by the governor for the agriculture business development corporation; lands leased to the agriculture business development corporation by any department or agency of the State; and lands to which the agribusiness development corporation in its corporate capacity holds title are transferred to the department of agriculture.

SECTION 12. All rights, powers, functions, and duties of the agribusiness development corporation are transferred to the department of agriculture.

Except for the executive director, all employees who occupy civil service positions and whose functions are transferred to the department of agriculture by this Act shall retain their civil service status, whether permanent or temporary. Employees shall be transferred without loss of salary, seniority (except as prescribed by applicable collective bargaining agreements), retention points, prior service credit, any vacation and sick leave credits previously earned, and other rights, benefits, and privileges, in accordance with state personnel laws and this Act; provided that the employees possess the minimum qualifications and public employment requirements for the class or position to which transferred or appointed, as applicable; provided further that subsequent changes in status may be made pursuant to applicable civil service and compensation laws.

Any employee who, prior to this Act, is exempt from civil service and is transferred as a consequence of this Act may retain the employee's exempt status, but shall not be appointed to a civil service position as a consequence of this Act. An exempt employee who is transferred by this Act shall not suffer any loss of prior service credit, vacation or sick leave credits previously earned, or other employee benefits or privileges as a consequence of this Act; provided that the employees possess legal and public employment requirements for the position to which transferred or appointed, as applicable; provided further that subsequent changes in status may be made pursuant to applicable employment and compensation laws. The chairperson of the board of agriculture may prescribe the duties and qualifications of these employees and fix their salaries without regard to chapter 76, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

SECTION 13. All appropriations, records, equipment, machines, files, supplies, contracts, books, papers, documents, maps, and other personal property heretofore made, used, acquired, or held by the agribusiness development corporation relating to the functions transferred to the department of agriculture shall be transferred with the functions to which they relate.

PART V

SECTION 14. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

SECTION 15. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 16. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2021.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 


 


 

Report Title:

Agribusiness Development Corporation; Department of Agriculture; Repeal

 

Description:

Dissolves the agribusiness development corporation and transfers all lands and staff, except for the executive director, to the department of agriculture.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.