Lawmakers focus on sustainability
Recognizing that some reports from previous task forces never get a second look once they are released, lawmakers are taking steps to ensure that the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan is not ignored -- not just this year, but also by future Legislatures and administrations.
Two years in the making, officials say, the 87-page plan represents the most comprehensive statewide planning effort in more than three decades and aims to provide public- and private-sector institutions with a road map for crafting policies on affordable housing, education, land management, energy and other areas.
Sen. Russell Kokubun, chairman of the Legislature's 2050 Sustainability Task Force, called it the "People's Plan," noting that committee hearings during the past two years have generated input from more than 10,500 residents.
He expects the public to get behind many of the initiatives that will be put forth by lawmakers.
"This is top of mind for people," said Kokubun (D, Hilo-Naalehu). "There are many, many issues I think people can engage in personally."
Kokubun and others said yesterday that a key to ensuring the advancement of the plan is the establishment of a "Sustainability Council."
The council, composed of community members and private-sector officials, would have no regulatory authority, but would advise lawmakers on what policies would have the most effect on the state and which ones have the greatest support.
Council members also would be charged with issuing an annual report card on the state's efforts, noting where progress has been made and which areas require more attention.
"I think it's the heart and soul of the entire (sustainability) report," said House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell (D, Manoa). "With that, I think you are going to see real change.
"It means that they're taking action and asking their government, their employers to act differently."
Linda Smith, Gov. Linda Lingle's senior adviser on policy, said the administration supports many of the concepts in the report but believes lawmakers should have specific goals in mind.
"What we believe is the appropriate focus now," Smith said, "should be on specific, definable projects that will address some of the issues that Hawaii is facing, such as our energy dependence, such as preserving important agricultural lands and preserving some of our unique cultural assets."
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
State Rep. Kirk Caldwell is the House majority leader. This story originally incorrectly identified him as the minority leader.