LIHUE — A decision on the controversial Bill 2491 wasn’t reached by deadline Tuesday.

At 6:30 p.m., following another long day of testimony and a half-hour presentation from Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., the Kauai County Council recessed its special meeting on the highly charged issue to take a dinner break.

Outside, a sea of red bill supporters — most dressed in “Pass the Bill” shirts — had gathered in front of the Historic County Building.

By the time Carvalho finished addressing the council, his voice was being drowned out by the crowd’s chant.

“Pass the Bill! Pass the Bill!” they screamed in unison.

“I’m not sure I’m going to continue with the meeting until we can get some decorum downstairs,” Council Chair Jay Furfaro said. 

After calling for recess, Furfaro walked to the front steps and, after bringing the crowd to silence, said the council had a lot of work yet to do. In order reach a vote Tuesday — something the crowd certainly approved of — the council would need everyone’s cooperation and respect, he said.

The meeting continued after the break but a decision wasn’t reached before deadline.

In what’s become typical for all Bill 2491 hearings, the council took in hours of testimony from more than 80 people related to pesticides and genetically modified organisms.

The bill is aimed at placing disclosure requirements on companies that use pesticides and would establish buffer zones around schools and other public areas.

Since the bill’s introduction four months ago, each meeting has seen testimony grow increasingly emotional. Tuesday wasn’t any different, although a majority of the testimony was in favor of the bill.

The main message throughout the four-plus hours of testimony — “Pass the bill today! Do not defer.”

Any attempt by the council to defer — as Carvalho requested both last week and on Tuesday — would be considered an attempt to stop or kill it altogether, said Katie Johnson.  

Collin Dana agreed deferral was not an option.

“There’s a freight train coming,” he said. “If the mayor wants to step in front of it, that’s his funeral.”

Only four people testified against the bill Tuesday.

Kirby Kester, an employee of BASF, told the council that the testimony he has heard during the bill’s process is not factual.

“I don’t see how you can pass any legislation without good data,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be wiser to collect data and proof before making any further decisions on this bill?”

As he did last week, Carvalho said he was in favor of a deferral not because he doesn’t support Bill 2491, but because he wants to make sure all the right resources are in place to enforce it.

“I’m not going to set ourselves up to fail,” he said. “I want to be successful, not only for me but for all of us.”

The council received the county attorney’s opinion on the legality of the issue, but did not disclose those findings to the public.

For updated coverage visit thegardenisland.com.


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