Three resolutions proposing new state laws were adopted by the Maui County Council last Tuesday for possible inclusion in the Hawaii State Association of Counties' legislative package.
Once approved by all four county councils, the HSAC legislative package will be presented to the state Legislature for the 2014 legislative session. HSAC is the vehicle for the counties to jointly express the views of local government at the state Capitol.
One Maui County Council proposal would authorize county liquor commissions to provide funding for alcohol abuse treatment and prevention. Funding would come from revenues collected through fines and fees imposed by the liquor commissions on liquor licensees.
The prevention of alcohol abuse is a critically important public need. It makes sense to use revenues collected from those who profit from alcohol use to pay for programs designed to prevent and treat alcohol abuse.
Another proposal deals with maintenance and repair of roads whose ownership and jurisdiction are in dispute between the state and a county. These roads are also referred to as "roads in limbo." When the ownership of a road is in dispute, the applicable county and state agencies are understandably hesitant to maintain the road because it may also mean assuming liability for the road. When the road is not maintained, it deteriorates and jeopardizes public safety.
Both state and county governments have a responsibility to protect the welfare of the community through proper maintenance of roads. The measure will enable county and state agencies to assume maintenance of roads in limbo during an interim period without the fear of assuming ownership and the corresponding liability.
The council also adopted a resolution proposing to include in the 2014 HSAC legislative package a measure allowing council members to freely attend community and educational meetings.
Council members are sometimes impeded from accepting invitations for forums and seminars that provide relevant information on council business because of the burden of Sunshine Law restrictions.
Council members agree that in order to better serve our constituents in a well-informed, transparent and responsive manner, they should be encouraged to attend events without fear of potential criminal and civil penalties.
The councils have until Aug. 30 to submit their proposals to the HSAC Executive Committee. The HSAC Executive Committee will then forward the proposals to the four county councils for their consideration. Only those proposals approved by all four councils will be included in the 2014 HSAC legislative package and submitted before the Legislature convenes in January.
The council, under the leadership of the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, may also consider a Maui County legislative package to be presented during the 2014 legislative session. If you have any suggestions for that, please email the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the HSAC and Maui County legislative packages are established, we will provide links to the legislation on the council's blog at www.mauicounty.gov/council.
The public's support of the proposals, in the form of written testimony and calls to state legislators, will be critical to our success.
A hui hou.
* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council's Pukalani/Kula/Ulupalakua area residency seat. "Chair's 3 Minutes" is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.