Three of the bill’s core provisions — a more extensive version of its pesticide disclosure provisions, buffer-zones, and a mandated health and environmental study — remain intact in the bill. Though they may be revisited at the full council meeting, prohibition of open air testing of experimental GMOs and pesticides, a temporary moratorium on expansion of experimental and commercial production of GMOs, and permitting of commercial GMOs were eliminated from the amended version of the bill.
While bill co-sponsor and committee Chair Hooser stated that there were aspects of the amended bill that he “didn’t like,” he said, “I am supporting this bill out of respect and mahalo for the two council members who put the work in on this.” He added, “that’s the hard part. It took hours and hours and hours for [council members Nakamura and Yukimura] to do the work. That’s what it takes to pass good legislation.”
In concluding remarks, Hooser pledged to make the bill “stronger and better” when it returns to the full council discussion and vote.
Bill supporters were encouraged that the bill was voted out of committee. “The health community is pleased to see that disclosure requirements in Bill 2491 were strengthened,”
“This is a positive first step, a good sign,” said bill supporter Sol Kahn. “But as a father who wants what is best for all children, I hope to see larger buffer-zones that are based first and foremost on protecting kids.”
Bill supporters’ optimism remained cautious. Farmer Louisa Wooton, for example, was dismayed that a temporary halt on expansion of the industry was eliminated from the amended version of the bill. “Given the evidence shared by doctors, scientists and others who testified, it seems only reasonable that some form of temporary ‘time-out’
Public testimony began with expecting mother Hayley Ham Young-Giorgio delivering, “6,500 petition signatures, plus an additional 2,700 online petitioners, totaling a rapidly growing body of nearly 10,000 people, on behalf of a broad-based movement of doctors, teachers, mothers, union workers, ag workers, farmers and others from all walks of life on our island.”
Jennifer Ruggles, a member of the Pass the Bill Coalition, also presented a list of over 60 Kauai-based businesses and organizations that endorse the bill's passage.
Community leader and professional surfer Dustin Barca said, “Kauai is more united than ever in its demand for the right to know and the ability to protect what we love most – our land, our water and our families. We expect all of our council members’ support and votes for a stronger Bill 2491 at the next council meeting.”
The committee voted 4 to 1 to approve the bill and to move it into the full council, with council member Rapozo being the sole “no” vote.