(BIVN) – Seven bills that aim to help the newly updated Hawaiʻi 2050 Sustainability Plan were signed by governor David Ige on Friday.
The issues addressed by the new laws range from food sustainability, to sea level rise, to economic diversificaton.
“I applaud the Legislature’s focus on sustainability issues this session. We are united in our commitment to statewide sustainability and climate adaptation. We take these actions today without compromising the ability of future generations of Hawai‘i to thrive,” said Gov. Ige.
State officials say three of the signed bills “will help create demand for local food products that will benefit both growers and consumers, supporting the Ige administration’s goal of doubling local food production.” They are:
- HB767 – RELATING TO THE FARM TO SCHOOL PROGRAM: Moves the Hawaii farm to school program from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Education. Establishes a programmatic goal for the Department of Education that at least 30% of food served in public schools shall consist of locally sourced products by 2030. Creates an annual reporting requirement.
- HB817 – RELATING TO AGRICULTURE: Requires and establishes benchmarks for each state department to ensure that a certain percentage of the produce purchased by that department consists of fresh local agricultural products or local value-added, processed, agricultural, or food products. Requires a report to the legislature on each department’s progress toward meeting these benchmarks.
- SB512 – RELATING TO SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM INCENTIVES: Removes the $10 per visit per day cap on the dollar-for-dollar match received by supplemental nutrition assistance program beneficiaries under the Hawaii healthy food incentive program, also known as the double up food bucks program. Specifies that healthy proteins are eligible purchases under the program.
The Ulupono Initiative, founded in 2009 by the Omidyar Group in support of working toward sustainable solutions, praised the three bill signings after the legislation was made law. Ulupono Initiative President Murray Clay, who attended the bill signing ceremony at Washington Place, said:
“These meaningful bills, passed by the Legislature and today signed into law, represent clear recognition by our leaders of the significant role our state government must play in supporting local farmers and ranchers, who are critical to Hawai‘i’s resilience.
“The pandemic exposed the great risk Hawai‘i is taking by continuing to rely on importing 80-90% of its food and just-in-time delivery. A strong agricultural economy is a resilient one, and these bills will strengthen island ag producers by providing a reliable market, leveraging dollars that state institutions are already spending by directing them locally.
“With students returning to classrooms, HB 767 will not only support the state’s farm-to-school programs but accelerate them. Meanwhile, HB 817 will ensure our state government — across all state institutional programs — is leading by example to support our local agricultural community.
“These farm-to-school and farm-to-state bills will be as impactful to the local food sector in Hawai‘i, as the 100% renewable energy bill was to Hawai‘i’s energy sector. Harnessing state purchasing power will help agriculture grow again as a sector in the islands.”
SEA LEVEL RISE
Two of Friday’s signed bills aim to help the state “plan and prepare for sea level rise.”
- HB243 – RELATING TO SEA LEVEL RISE ADAPTATION: Requires the Office of Planning, in cooperation with each state agency having operational responsibilities over state facilities, to: identify existing and planned facilities that are vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding impacts, and natural hazards; assess a range of options to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise to those facilities; and submit annual reports to the Governor, Legislature, and Hawaii climate change mitigation and adaptation commission regarding the vulnerability and adaptation assessments for state facilities and the progress made in implementing sea level rise adaptation in future plans, programs, and capital improvement needs and decisions. Amends the Hawaii State Planning Act to include sustainable development, climate change adaptation, and sea level rise adaptation as objectives for facility systems.
- SB474 – RELATING TO REAL PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS: Requires that mandatory seller disclosures in real estate transactions include identification of residential real properties lying within the sea level rise exposure area. Takes effect 5/1/22.
DIVERSIFYING THE ECONOMY WITH INNOVATIONS IN SUSTAINABILITY
The final two bills out of the 7 signed into law Friday support the state’s effort to diversify the economy through sustainability. “There is an opportunity to create new economic activity and skilled jobs through innovation and addressing the many challenges posed by climate change,” the state wrote.
- HB683 – RELATING TO SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL: Establishes the sustainable aviation fuel program to provide matching grants to any small business in Hawaii that is developing products related to sustainable aviation fuel or greenhouse gas reduction from commercial aviation operations.
- HB1176 – RELATING TO A JOB CORPS PROGRAM: Allows the governor to designate the department of land and natural resources to administer or enter into agreements for the administration of a green job youth corps program that provides temporary work and training opportunities to help address the unemployment impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and support economic diversification. Requires a report to the legislature. Appropriates American Rescue Plan Act funds.
On Friday, Governor Ige also announced that the 10-year update of the Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Plan has been completed. From the State:
The update will guide the crucial 2020-2030 Decade of Action declared by the United Nations, to accelerate sustainable solutions for the world’s biggest challenges. The update will also serve as the state’s climate and sustainability strategic action plan.
One of the first priorities is to promote a sustainable economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our vision includes a diversified economy that is rebuilt sustainably, not a simple return to business as usual. We see increased self-sufficiency, green job opportunities, investment in our communities, in education and people, and investment in local infrastructure,” said Gov. Ige.
The plan also recommends these additional focus areas for 2020-2030: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Improving Climate Resilience, Advancing Sustainable Communities, Advancing Equity, Institutionalizing Sustainability Throughout Government, Preserving the Natural Environment, (and) Perpetuating Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Values
“The Hawai‘i 2050 Plan furthers my Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiatives, which aim to protect Hawai‘i’s watersheds and nearshore waters, prevent, detect and control invasive species, double local food production, and reach 100 percent renewable energy use in the electricity sector by the year 2045. The bottom line is – we have a collective commitment to meeting Hawai‘i’s sustainability and climate goals,” said Gov. Ige.
“Without action, climate change will cause irreversible damage. I wholeheartedly support these bills being signed today, because in just ten years I hope to be living in a better, healthier, and more sustainable island home,” said Sariah Banks, sophomore, and student senator of the Associated Students of Mililani High School. “Enacting these laws and launching these plans will protect our ecosystem, help local agriculture and promote green job opportunities. We are the future. And we need the government, businesses, and organizations throughout Hawai‘i to protect our islands and our future.”