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Sat Mar 30, 2019, 06:16 AM

State Democratic Party Opposes 'Corporate Water Theft' Bill: Letter tells lawmakers to "halt this

State Democratic Party Opposes ‘Corporate Water Theft’ Bill: Letter tells lawmakers to “halt this bill immediately”

The increasingly unpopular HB1326 – the so-called “Corporate Water Theft” bill – currently languishing in the Senate, took another hit last weekend. In a letter written Sunday, March 24 to legislators, the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i officially declared its opposition to the proposed bill, which would allow companies such as Mahi Pono seven more years of revocable “holdover” permits with which to divert water from East Maui watershed and other streams around the state without first submitting Environmental Impact Statements. The letter puts state senators in the awkward position of voting against their own party if they decide to support the bill.

“The Party believes the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and entities, such as Alexander and Baldwin (A&B), should no longer be allowed to rely on one-year holdover permits to steal public water resources for their own purposes,” the letter states. “Prior to the passage of Act 126 [in 2016], BLNR and holders of the holdover permits had decades to comply with the law and failed to do so. Following the passage of Act 126, those same entities have had three years to convert those permits and have again failed to do so.”

The letter was drafted after a meeting of the State Central Committee on Saturday, March 23 and signed by Chairman Keali‘i Lopez and Legislation Committee Co-chairs Josh Frost and Zahava Zaidoff. They urge legislators to “respect the ruling of the State Supreme Court regarding A&B’s illegal taking of water from public streams and halt this bill immediately.”

South Maui Representative Tina Wildberger, who voted against HB1326 in two committees and in floor votes, praised the party’s decision. “I am thrilled to see the Democratic Party under Chair Lopez’s leadership make a strong statement that business as usual needs to sunset in the Aloha State,” she told MauiTime. “It’s time to follow the law of Act 126.”

Read more: https://mauitime.com/news/politics/state-democratic-party-opposes-corporate-water-theft-bill-letter-tells-lawmakers-to-halt-this-bill-immediately/

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