LIHUE — The Kauai Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors recently voted to approve a core set of policy priorities for 2019, focused on promoting entrepreneurial business, environmental stewardship and preventing regulatory measures the chamber says are not business-friendly.
Mark Perriello, chamber president, said that codifying a set of guiding principles enables the chamber to better advocate on behalf of the businesses they represent and creates a unified perspective so “we can judge legislation through that lens.”
Agriculture, film, military and tourism were listed as the industries the chamber intends to focus on.
The chamber agenda includes support for the expansion of diversified agriculture through the adoption of a “sensible land-use policy,” and to work to prevent “excessive regulatory and financial burdens that interfere with the ability of farmers to succeed.”
Perriello did not specify what regulations or policies need to be changed, but said in an email last week that the chamber is in support of “reducing continued suburban sprawl in favor of walkable communities with a range of housing options and choices concentrated within existing population centers.”
Concerning the film industry, Perriello said “the state should consider raising the $35 million aggregate cap on the film tax credit in order to ensure that film-related jobs and revenue remain in Hawaii rather than relocate to any number of competing locations across the globe.”
The chamber’s policy agenda also mentions advocating for funding for the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility research and testing operations, which Perriello said are important because the facility “is part of our ohana here on Kauai. They employ our brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, neighbors and friends. Employing over 1,000 residents, they are one of the most important employers and economic drivers on Kauai.”
The chamber looks to be throwing its weight behind the Kauai County government’s goals for the tourism industry.
Its policy agenda states that the chamber will “encourage the implementation of the Kauai Tourism Strategic Plan,” a set of priorities and goals issued by the county last year that call for “a refocus within the visitor industry and in its relationships and partnerships at the local and state levels.”
Supporting a plan that purports to mediate the effects of overtourism by limiting the number of people visiting Kauai each year may seem counterintuitive for an organization whose members include the island’s tourism-based businesses. But the chamber’s policy reiterates the importance of “managing the industry for the benefit of all.”
The chamber plans on working toward rolling back and preventing government regulations that, according to the chamber’s policy, “interfere with the ability of companies to succeed.”
“High shipping costs drive up prices in our archipelago state, making Hawaii one of the most expensive places in the country to live. We could reduce overall shipping costs and potentially lower prices for consumers if we made changes to an antiquated and protectionist federal law called the Jones Act,” Perriello said when asked specifically what regulatory measures will be targeted.
He continued, “Currently, the Jones Act enjoys rare and overwhelming bipartisan support. With our entire state’s economy suffering due to the Jones Act, my hope is that our federal lawmakers will see the wisdom of evolving on this issue.”