On April 9, 2019, a broad coalition, literally hundreds from across Hawaiʻi, filled the Senate chambers and rotunda to advocate for the protection of our precious waters and to say no to corporate water theft. And for the moment, it appears that HB 1326 - the water theft bill – is dead.
Congratulations and a huge mahalo to everyone who has engaged around this issue - to all of you who took the time to submit testimony, fly to the capitol and/or outreach to lawmakers. Your persistence made a difference!
However, we will be keeping a watchful eye. Because when large corporate interests are at stake, we have seen the lengths they will go to, to protect those interests.
People Power Works!
It is worth noting that exactly one year earlier, many of us gathered in the same place, at the Capitol, to fight for the passage of SB 3095, the first bill in Hawaiʻi to regulate industrial pesticide use and the first in the nation ban on the neurotoxin pesticide chlorpyrifos. As was the case one year ago, it was people power that made the difference. Let’s keep it up!
To affect change in this arena we need people power, but we also need legislative champions who are willing to stand up for justice.
It is important to take a moment to mahalo all of the brave lawmakers who stood up to some powerful corporate interests and who helped to dispel misinformation.
Senator Kahele’s leadership, as the Chair of the Senate Water and Land Committee cannot be overstated. He did his due diligence to get a firm grasp on the issues, balance the concerns of all parties involved, and shine a light on the truth.
Senator Gil Riviere has been a steadfast ally through out the course of the legislative session, his commitment to justice for communities impacted by water theft never wavered. His hard-hitting questions through out the WTL/WAM hearing held the bad actors accountable.
Senator Clarence Nishihara was the vote that tipped the scales in favor of justice on the Water and Land Committee.
It is also worth noting that during the marathon 6 hour long WTL/WAM hearing last Tuesday, Senators Keohokalole and Thielen also contributed to the line of questioning that helped to dismantle misinformation and offer common sense, pragmatic solutions.
And Senator Russell Ruderman’s concise opening remarks for yesterday’s Senate Floor Session said it all: “In the words of Spike Lee"..."Do the Right Thing”.
Please take a moment to mahalo these Senators for doing the right thing:
Senator Kaialiʻi Kahele
Senator Gil Riviere
Senator Clarence Nishihara
Senator Jarrett Keohokalole
Senator Laura Thielen
Senator Russell Ruderman
Although the leadership of these Senators has stood out over the past weeks, it is important to mahalo the entire Senate for not resurrecting HB1326, please take a moment to thank them all.
We also want to mahalo all of the House Reps who stood strong early on in the session to stand up against water theft. Representative Tina Wildberger was the first vote in opposition in the House, but was later joined by Reps. Perruso, DeCoite, Gates, D. Kobayashi, Eli, McKelvey, Kitagawa and Thielen. You can find the contact info for our House Repʻs here. Please send them a quick note in gratitude as well.
Yesterday the scales of justice tipped in the right direction. Although we know this is only one battle in a much longer generational struggle, let's take a moment to acknowledge each others efforts, and express our gratitude.
Mahalo for taking action. Ola I Ka Wai, Water Is Life!
The HAPA Team