East Hawaii News

Like House Version, Senate GMO Bill Stagnant

February 4, 2014, 6:43 PM HST
* Updated February 5, 3:32 PM
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A House bill that would preempt Hawaii County’s ban on new genetically modified crops has not seen any movement in the Legislature so far this year, and a similar bill today failed to gain traction in the state Senate.

House Bill 2506, which was co-sponsored by 36 lawmakers — including five from the Big Island – has yet to be scheduled for a committee hearing.

And a Senate committee today deadlocked on that body’s version of the bill.

Like HB2506, Senate Bill 110 states that no law shall be passed by a local government that would restrict farming “not prohibited by federal or state law ….”

Three members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture voted for the bill and three voted against it.

Those in favor were Sens. Clarence Nishihara, Donovan Dela Cruz and Sam Slom, all of whom are from Oahu. Those voting against it were Sens. Ron Kouchi of Kauai, Kalani English of Maui and Lauren Thielen of Oahu.

The committee’s seventh member, Sen. Glenn Wakai of Oahu, was absent for the vote.

The measure was originally introduced by Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria in 2013 as a “short-form” bill, which means it was a shell without content that was titled as “relating to agriculture.”

Sen. Brickwood Galuteria. Senate photo.

Sen. Brickwood Galuteria. Senate photo.

It was amended this year with the insertion of the same language as HB 2506.

Both bills would amend Hawaii’s existing Right to Farm Act.

Neither specifically mentions genetically modified organisms or GMOs, but are viewed as a likely method of overturning laws restricting GMOs passed recently on the Big Island and on Kauai.

As of today, no new hearings are scheduled for either bill.

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