STAND. COM. REP. NO. 467

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

 

RE: S.B. No. 304

S.D. 1

 

 

 

Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Thirty-Second State Legislature

Regular Session of 2023

State of Hawaii

 

Sir:

 

Your Committees on Water and Land and Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism, to which was referred S.B. No. 304 entitled:

 

"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO VISITOR IMPACT FEES,"

 

beg leave to report as follows:

 

The purpose and intent of this measure is to:

 

(1) Establish a visitor impact fee program within the Department of Land and Natural Resources, through which the Department will collect a fee for a license to visit a state park, forest, hiking trail, or other state natural area;

 

(2) Establish the Environmental Legacy Commission to allocate revenues from the visitor impact fee to protect and manage natural resources; and

 

(3) Establish the Visitor Impact Fee Special Fund.

 

Your Committees received testimony in support of this measure from the Office of the Governor, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Office of Planning and Sustainable Development, Hawaii Tourism Authority, The Nature Conservancy, Imua Alliance, Hawaii Reef and Ocean Coalition, Climate Protectors Hawaii, Surfrider Foundation, Kupu, Mālama Learning Center, Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, Kingdom Pathways, Resources Legacy Fund, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and fifty individuals. Your Committees received testimony in opposition to this measure from three individuals. Your Committees received comments on this measure from the Department of the Attorney General, Tax Foundation of Hawaii, Kohala Coast Resort Association, Maui Hotel and Lodging Association, and one individual.

 

Your Committees find that Hawaii's natural resources, including reefs, oceans, forests, streams, estuaries, shorelines, and beaches, provide irreplaceable and invaluable benefits to visitors, residents, and the global community. However, your Committees find that with escalating visitor impacts and an increasing global threat to our island ecosystem, there is an immediate need for additional resources to protect, restore, sustain, manage, and conserve our natural resources.

 

Your Committees find that a regenerative tourism fee has been suggested by the Hawaii Tourism Authority as a potential means to obtain these critical resources. Your Committees find that it is timely to ask visitors who enjoy and reap the benefits of Hawaii's natural resources to further contribute to their protection, care, and restoration. Therefore, this measure establishes the Visitor Impact Fee Program within the Department of Land and Natural Resources, through which the Department will collect a fee for a license to visit a state park, forest, hiking trail, or other state natural area; establishes the Environmental Legacy Commission to allocate revenues from the visitor impact fee to protect and manage natural resources; and establishes the Visitor Impact Fee Special Fund.

 

Your Committees have heard the testimony of the Department of the Attorney General, requesting that this measure incorporate certain key features of a similar measure introduced by the Governor, S.B. No. 1349, Regular Session 2023, which had been reviewed by the Department of the Attorney General and is more narrowly tailored. Specifically, S.B. No. 1349 provides that site-specific areas subject to the license requirement will be set by rule and emphasizes that the uses of the special fund will be closely related to the impacts of visitors on natural resources.

 


 

Therefore, your Committees have amended this measure by:

 

(1) Eliminating the proposed Environmental Legacy Commission and granting the Department of Land and Natural Resources the authority over the Visitor Impact Fee Program;

 

(2) Providing that the site-specific areas subject to the license requirement will be set by rule;

 

(3) Limiting the use of revenues from the Visitor Impact Fee Program for state parks and other natural resource maintenance and improvement projects under the Department of Land and Natural Resources' jurisdiction that are impacted by visitors;

 

(4) Inserting an effective date of July 1, 2050, to encourage further discussion; 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 Water and Land and Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism that are attached to this report, your Committees are in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 304, as amended herein, and recommend that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 304, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Ways and Means.

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committees on Water and Land and Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism,

 

________________________________

LYNN DECOITE, Chair

 

________________________________

LORRAINE R. INOUYE, Chair