Draft rules released for Ordinance 960

LIHUE — The County of Kauai released its draft administrative rules for implementing Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491), a new law governing pesticide use and genetically modified organisms on the island.

The 44-page draft document has been posted on the county’s website for public review and comment and outlines how the county’s Department of Economic Development intends to tackle enforcement of the controversial measure.

“These rules must be reviewed and approved by the state’s Small Business Regulatory Review Board before going to public hearing,” Deputy County Attorney Mona Clark said in a release. “We hope to get some public feedback before sending them to SBRRB for consideration at their meeting in June.”

The law, slated to take effect Aug. 16, mandates disclosure of pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops, establishes buffer zones around sensitive areas and requires the county to complete a health and environmental impact study.

In January, however, four of Kauai’s biotech seed companies filed a federal lawsuit aimed at blocking implementation of the ordinance, which the plaintiffs say “irrationally” prohibits them from growing any crop, genetically modified or not, within “arbitrarily drawn buffer zones.”

Kauai County Councilman Tim Bynum, who co-introduced the measure along with Councilman Gary Hooser, said that while he hadn’t had a chance to review the document, he is not concerned now that Ordinance 960 is a law and the county has attorneys on board.

Moving forward, Bynum is not anticipating further conflict between the council and the mayor’s administration, only collaboration.

“We’re all on the same page. It is the law, we’re implementing it,” he said. “The differences about policy are behind us.”

The council passed Bill 2491 by a 6-1 vote Oct. 16, only to have it vetoed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. The council later overrode the mayoral veto.

To ensure that further revisions can be considered prior to submittal to SBRRB, the county has requested that comments related to the draft administrative rules be submitted no later than May 12. Informational meetings are being planned so that the public can better understand the rulemaking process and provide constructive feedback on the draft rules, according to a county release. Once the rules are approved by SBRRB, a public hearing will be scheduled on Kauai approximately 30 days later.

The draft rules can be accessed in the “What’s New” section of the county’s website, www.kauai.gov.

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