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HFIA Government Relations

The Hawaii Food Industry Association serves as your government and industry liaison. Legislative lobbying is our primary purpose and responsibility.

Legislative Update - Fall 2015 Bookmark


by Lauren Zirbel


After a great legislative session of defeating nearly all bills that hurt HFIA members, only one bill on our oppose list passed the legislature. This bill, the theft bill, would have increased the property threshold for theft in the second degree from $300 to $750. We are pleased to announce that the governor has vetoed the theft bill and that HFIA was listed as a major reason the bill was vetoed in the governor’s message. This makes our record for the 2015 legislative session perfect.

In addition to playing a significant role in defeating many bills that threatened our members’ interests, HFIA also helped pass two bills that are of particular interest to our membership. The first bill is the growler bill. This bill allows retailers to sell larger reusable liquor containers, primarily used for beer. This is a growing trend around the country and we are pleased to announce that Hawaii is joining in on this eco-friendly beverage model. The idea is that instead of shipping your beer container to the mainland to be recycled, you can simply wash your growler and refill it at your local retailer! Growlers help to promote the local beer industry because it allows smaller batch brews that were previously only served on tap to be sold for consumption at home, such as Kona Brewing’s Hula Hefeweizen beer. This bill is a win for the environment, a win for retailers, and a win for consumers!

HFIA also helped pass a manufacturing stimulus bill. HFIA supported this bill with strong testimonies at each hearing and encouraged members and Made in Hawaii vendors to get involved as well. This bill provides $2 million to the High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) to be distributed to local manufacturers who are updating facilities and/ or expanding. The grant monies can also be used to train employees on the use of manufacturing equipment. The rules state that the grant can only cover 20% of the manufacturer’s costs and that the funding can’t exceed $100,000 in any given year per manufacturer. If you are a local manufacturer and are looking to take advantage of this program, please feel free to call HFIA for more information.

There has been a lot of action at the county level post-session, as well as a lot of media attention on HFIA and our members following the implementation of the plastic bag ban on Oahu. HFIA published an article in the Star Advertiser’s Island Voices column, which defended our members’ choice to distribute perfectly legal reusable plastic bags to consumers. In our article, we defended why the bill was drafted to allow thicker reusable plastic bags, which have shown to be just as reusable as 100% cloth bags. Consumers have a choice to bring their own bag and not take any bag at all from the retailer, and this is the most beneficial turn of events for all parties involved.

If you are following your Weekly Update emails from HFIA, you may be aware of bills moving forward at the county level that impact your business, and if you desire, you can submit testimony. We provide links to bills as they progress, as well as a description of what each bill accomplishes. A few bills HFIA tracked post-session includes one that would legalize sparklers, and one that would mandate that any new or renovated facility, including a retail grocery store, convenience store, or restaurant, must place a baby diaper changing station in both the men’s and women’s restrooms, or provide a unisex changing room if public restrooms are provided. This bill does not impact private restrooms used by employees. Changing trays are plastic tables that fold up and down from the wall. Our Government Relations Committee has been discussing this bill and we have some concerns about how it may impact locations with space limitations, and ADA requirements. Council member Trevor Ozawa’s office told HFIA that the baby diaper changing stations would not be required if they interfered with ADA requirements. The fireworks legalization bill appears to be stalled for the time being.

We will keep you updated on the progress of all county legislation that impacts your business in the Weekly Update, so be sure to stay tuned! As always, thank you for your support. Without your involvement, HFIA would not be able to succeed legislatively and defend Hawaii’s food industry from harmful legislation.

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