Veto headed to County Council

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council will hold a special meeting on Thursday to officially receive the mayor’s veto.

From there, the council will decide on the fate of Bill 2491, including whether or not the six-member board will consider overriding the mayor’s decision in as early as two weeks.

The decision Friday to hold the meeting came one day after Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. vetoed the bill. If the County Council does not accept the veto on Thursday, then the bill would die. Basically, it means if the council declines to accept the veto, the council is declining to even take up that matter. But if the council, who voted in favor of the bill Oct. 16, decides to accept the veto it would be free to pursue overturning it too, and could schedule a meeting Nov. 14 to take up that matter.

County Council Chair Jay Furfaro said on Friday that he was “deeply disappointed” in Carvalho’s decision to veto the second draft of Bill 2491, which was approved by the council nearly two weeks ago by a 6-1 vote.

“The council heard from the attorney from the seed companies … as well as the county attorney regarding the legalities of this bill,” Furfaro said on Friday. “Despite the concerns, the council felt it was our responsibility to take some form of action. It was my hope that the mayor would have allowed the bill to become law.”

He said he would have preferred to see organizations or companies challenge the bill in court rather than have the mayor veto the bill while citing legal grounds. If the mayor signed the bill, Furfaro said the onus of defending the ordinance would have fallen on the federal court system.  

“Should the seed companies choose and their organization feel it was illegal, they would take action and have it challenged in court by way of a declaratory action,” he said.

Bill 2491, in its current form, would require all commercial agricultural entities that purchased or used more than five pounds or 15 gallons of any restricted use pesticide in the past year to disclose all of the pesticides that will be used for the next year. These companies must also restrict crop growth and pesticide application within specific buffer zones between areas like parks, day care centers and medical facilities.

The bill would also require all commercial agricultural entities possessing any genetically modified organism to disclose it to the county’s Office of Economic Development and state Department of Agriculture.

If the council votes in favor of reconsidering the mayor’s veto, a public meeting to vote on an override could take place on Thursday, Nov. 14.

The council would need five votes to override the veto. While the council passed the bill 6-1, former council member Nadine Nakamura, who voted in favor of the bill earlier this month, resigned from the council last week to accept a position as the county’s new managing director. She will not be voting on the issue.

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