Update: Honolulu’s plastic bag ban

Mayor Caldwell signed a bill amending Honolulu's plastic checkout store bag ban today.

The bill the Mayor signed today (Bill 38, CD2) amends a law enacted in 2012 under the previous mayoral administration (Ordinance 12-8), implementing a ban on plastic and non-recyclable paper bags set to take effect July 1, 2015.

This new bill will amend the law to specifically prohibit “biodegradable” plastic bags, due to concerns raised about the lack of an industry standard over the definition of “biodegradable” bag. Instead, the bill allows “certified compostable” bags which carry the “compostable” logo approved by the Biodegradable Products Institute, in order to provide businesses with a clear definition.

Currently, Honolulu is the only remaining county in the State of Hawai‘i with no regulation of plastic grocery bags. The bill notes that plastic bags “may remain relatively intact for long periods of time, and fragments of plastic in the environment may harm insects, fish and animals if consumed.”

When the law goes into effect on July 1 next year, regular plastic checkout bags will be banned, but all these options will remain:

·      Reusable bags;

·      “Compostable” plastic bags;

·      Recyclable paper bags.

The law also contains these exemptions:

·      Bags used inside the business to package loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, candy, or small hardware items;

·      Bags used to contain frozen foods, meat or fish, flowers or plants;

·      Bags used by pharmacists for medications;

·      Newspaper bags;

·      Laundry and dry cleaning bags;

·      Bags sold in packages for garbage, pet waste and yard waste;

·      Bags from pet stores;

·      Bags to contain chemicals.

Bill 38, CD2 was passed unanimously by the Honolulu City Council on September 10, 2014.

Will Caron
The Hawaiian business caucus

OHA will hold a new caucus for Hawaiian businesses owners at the upcoming Native Hawaiian Convention.

Improving access to capital will be among the key focuses of a new caucus tailored to Native Hawaiian small-business owners, scheduled for Oct. 1 at the 13th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention in Honolulu.

Called the “Native Hawaiian Business Caucus,” the meeting will be hosted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), joining forces with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement to hold for the first time ever a caucus designed to provide Native Hawaiian small businesses with opportunities to expand and grow.

“This caucus is designed to provide a meaningful and productive opportunity for Native Hawaiian businesses to learn and build their capacity to expand and grow,” said OHA Ka Pouhana (Chief Executive Officer) Kamana`opono Crabbe. “It also provides an unprecedented opportunity for business owners and other stakeholders to come together to discuss the challenges, opportunities and policy priorities for Native Hawaiian busineses.”

The caucus comes at a time when national reports show that small-business lending has been stuck in a slow, grinding recovery behind most other types of business and consumer loans.

To help support the economic vitality of Native Hawaiian small-businesses, OHA is bringing together an array of speakers, including representatives from the Native American Contractors Association, to provide useful information and assistance to participants at the caucus who are looking to improve access to capital as well as expand their network of contacts.

OHA is covering the cost for nearly two dozen Native Hawaiian businesses to attend. Register for the meeting here.

Will Caron
Kaua‘i pesticide disclosure fight continues

Kaua‘i community groups appeal lower court decision striking down County Ordinance 960, the pesticide disclosure law.

Will Caron
ACLU declares First Amendment victory

Judge Susan Mollway granted a temporary restraining order against Hawaiʻi County last week in Kona “Panhandling” case.

Will Caron
Lassner deserves a chance

Letter to the Editor: one UH Mānoa faculty/staff member shares his disappointment over the Mānoa Faculty Senate's vote to censure System President David Lassner.

John Witeck
State agrees to revise public demonstration rules

An ACLU first amendment lawsuit has been settled with the state promising to change its rules concerning public demonstrations on state property to make it easier to exercise first amendment rights.

In the wake of a federal First Amendment lawsuit (ACLU v. Seki), settled on Sept. 5, 2014, the State of Hawaii has agreed to make wholesale revisions to its rules regarding demonstrations on State property, including at the State Capitol.

Effective immediately:

• Individuals or groups (of any size) wishing to demonstrate at the State Capitol (or other property controlled by the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS)) no longer need a permit.
• Demonstrators can have a small table to distribute literature, no permit needed.
• Demonstrators can get a permit, if desired, to reserve a space, but will no longer have to indemnify the state and will not have to obtain insurance if they cannot afford it.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of Hawaii Foundation and the law firm of Chun Kerr, LLP on behalf of plaintiffs Pamela G. Lichty and the ACLU in March of 2014, and documents burdensome requirements for obtaining a permit—including requirements that small groups get the government’s permission before holding a protest; that individuals have to agree to indemnify the State for any injuries arising from their protest (even if the injuries are caused by the protesters’ opponents); and that individuals or groups must apply for a permit weeks in advance (with no exception for spontaneous demonstrations in response to sudden events or news).

The ACLU had been trying to resolve these issues with the State informally since 2010, but the State did not agree to change these permitting requirements until after the lawsuit was filed.

Pamela G. Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group, whose organization ran up against these regulations while planning a rally at the Capitol said, “This settlement is a win for freedom of speech, and for grassroots organizations like ours that need to respond to current events quickly and without layers of government bureaucracy getting in the way of our message.”

“Objective, consistent standards for access to Hawaii’s public spaces will better safeguard equal treatment and equal protection for all community voices—a critical responsibility of government,” said Attorney Alexandra Rosenblatt of Chun Kerr. “We are relieved that DAGS will now have policies that uphold the rights to free speech and assembly as guaranteed in the First Amendment.”


Will Caron
Hawai‘i’s alternative industries get a boost

More than $5 million in federal grants will help develop Hawai‘i's agriculture, clean tech, manufacturing and healthcare industries.

Will Caron
Oahu defense contractor sentenced on espionage charges

A retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and civilian contractor will spend more than seven years in federal prison after he was convicted on espionage charges.

Will Caron
Mānoa faculty censure Lassner

After nearly voting to send the UH system president a resolution of no confidence, Mānoa faculty opted to censure him instead.

Will Caron
New houseless bills won’t help

The city's “compassionate disruption” strategy does more to hide the houseless problem from tourists than it does actually solve the underlying problems that lead to houselessness.

Will Caron