East Maui Demands Veto on Special Interest Legislation HB2501

About

Faith Ewbank, a 46-year resident of Maui, is a mother and grandmother who has testified at many Maui County and Hawaii State hearings. Her interest in island agriculture inspired her recent turn from graphic design to writing.

Water Rights VetoHB2501
Water Rights advocates join to sign wave at Hana Highway and Haleakala Highway on May 3rd to draw attention to the Senate vote on HB2501. The measure passed 17 to 8. Residents and farmers have asked Governor David Ige to veto HB2501, dubbed as the Water Theft Bill. The sign wavers distributed small flyers requesting emails to be sent to Gov. Ige at his email address: gov@gov.state.hi.us

Honolulu, Hawai‘i – With all of Hawai‘i watching, the Hawai‘i State Senate voted 17 in favor and 8 opposed to bestow status enabling sugar conglomerate, Alexander & Baldwin (A&B), to continue a 130-year reign of water control over Maui’s east side. Senator Riviere’s testimony in opposition provided factual details of the existing court ruling and the ability for the DNLR administrative process to handle the other water permit situations that some have proposed as problematic. He contended that this was clearly a special interest bill designed for A&B.

After the decision, no time wasting, Na Moku Aupuni o Ko‘olau Hui (aleading East Maui steward organization) briskly sent out an eblast and social media call out to petition Govenor Ige to veto the bill. The bill has been dubbed the Water Theft Bill and has quickly garnered the support of several Malama ‘Aina (Land Stewards) factions from all Hawai‘i islands.

Hawaii Senate Veto HB2501
Water rights advocates stand in the legislative Senate chamber gallery during Hawaii Senate vote on special interest bill HB2501.

Opponents grieved for the number of Yes with Reservations votes, imagining how it could have played in the farmers favor had those votes been no votes. The bill would not have passed and the history books would have been, a well-written day.

As the legislature wraps up their session and as other bills clear the pass, work remains for opponents to HB2501. There is no doubt the pressure that will be applied to have Ige veto the bill. The plea, having aged as it has, lays weight to an epic stage for Govenor Ige’s time in office. It could be a glorious time to be Governor. The Human Rights opportunity parallels the most fundamental culturally sensible understanding in Hawai‘i, water for taro.

Farmers and residents of East Maui made calculations a forehand based on recent attention to clear lawmaker lines of HB2501 support. A petition to veto HB2501 was in existence before the bill was even heard in the Senate. The move lays truth to the lack of trust in Hawaii government and its undisputed corruption.

Persistent protestors held space and sang song outside the O‘ahu Senate chambers and on Maui’s highways in hopes of drawing attention to the bill’s tenacity in the Hawaii State Legislature. The Maui Water Rights wave-signing event was met with loud honking greetings on Tuesday morning as Upcountry and East Maui residents drove to work and school. An estimated 4,000 cars and work trucks passed the crowd over the two and a half hour stance.

Keanae Water Rights Moms
Maui water advocates pose with youngest opponents during Hana Highway sign waving event. Residents and farmers from remote East Maui travelled to central Maui to draw attention to the Senate May 3rd vote on HB2501.

A steady beat of noise was heard by O‘ahu lawmakers as they continued their legislative voting on other bills. The post vote O‘ahu opposition outside the chambers drew the attention of Governor Ige. He came to meet with the group to hear their plea to veto the House Bill 2501.

A strong Maui crowd of 40 stood guard on the corner of Hana Highway and Haleakala Highway holding signs reading E Ola I Ka Wai (Water is Life), Mauka to Makai (Mountain to Sea), Aia I hea ka Wai a Kane? (Where are the waters of Kane), Hemo i ka Wai (Let go the Water), Restore the Wai, Where’s the Accountability, Cultural Genocide, This Affects Everyone, Protect Our Public Trust, Kill Bill HB2501, Ku I ka Pono (Stand for Justice), Free the Water, Let the Water Flow.

A petition to voice opposition to HB2501 is here: 

     Opposition to A&B’s Water Permit Application

Every news source in Hawai‘i has covered this story. See these articles:

     – Maui Now (May 3, 2016)

     – Civil Beat

     – Maui News

Maui Water Rights Sign Waving Video: