A gutted pesticide registry bill has passed its three committee assignments and is now headed for a full vote of the state House of Representatives.
HB 673 began as an ambitious effort to create a comprehensive pesticide reporting system in Hawaii–a process already implemented by many states. The bill would have required a larger group to report their pesticide use to the state Department of Agriculture, which would have had to publish an annual report on statewide pesticide use, broken down by zip code, and track pesticide imports.
The original bill also would have required pesticide applicators to respond to questions about pesticide use from abutting landowners, and mandated the state Department of Health to investigate and annually report the findings of all health complaints linked to the usage of pesticides.
But in response to opposition from pest control companies, agricultural interests, large landowners and the affected state agencies, lawmakers deleted nearly all the key points. The bill emerged from the House Agriculture Committee a shadow of its former self.
Westside Kauai Rep. Daynette “Dee” Morikawa, who co-sponsored the bill, wrote in an email that the bill had gotten so watered-down in the Agriculture Committee that even she had a hard time supporting it. “Thankfully, the Health Chair, instead of deferring the bill, decided to amend it to at least start some meaningful dialogue. I think this is a good start.”
The Finance committee last week passed the bill without further amendment. As it now stands, the bill simply requires the state DOA to publish on its website all the reports it’s currently receiving on the use of restricted pesticides. The measure also directs the Legislative Reference Bureau to conduct a study on how other states handle pesticide reporting and registration requirements, and report those findings to the Legislature.