Agricultural lands

Creates the State of Hawaii important agricultural lands
commission to identify and map important agricultural lands.
(HB179 HD2)

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           H.D. 2
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that article XI, section
 2 3, of the Hawaii State Constitution requires the State to
 3 conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified
 4 agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency, and assure
 5 the availability of agriculturally suitable lands.  To achieve
 6 these objectives, the constitution directs the legislature to
 7 provide standards and criteria.
 8      The legislature further finds that in 1986, the State of
 9 Hawaii land evaluation and site assessment (LESA) commission
10 submitted its final report to the legislature in accordance with
11 Act 273, Session Laws of Hawaii 1983.  The report presented the
12 commission's findings, conclusions, and recommendations
13 concerning:
14      (1)  The development of the initial inventory of the State's
15           important agricultural lands;
16      (2)  A classification system to identify these lands; and 
17      (3)  A process to review requests for a change in
18           designation of specific parcels from important
19           agricultural lands to urban or to other uses.

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2

 1      The report also provided an implementation framework and
 2 recommended amendments to existing state law to execute the
 3 proposed LESA system.
 4      Since 1986, many bills have been introduced that attempted
 5 to implement the LESA system.  For various reasons, none of these
 6 bills has succeeded in meeting all the needs and objectives of
 7 the interested parties that are affected by these land use bills.
 8      Additionally, since the completion of the LESA commission
 9 report in 1986, the profile of Hawaii's agricultural lands has
10 changed dramatically.  Such events include:
11      (1)  The dramatic shift from a plantation-type system with
12           an emphasis on sugarcane production to the current
13           focus on small scale and diversified agriculture; and
14      (2)  Hawaii's economic decline through the 1990s.
15      In the face of changing times and circumstances, the
16 legislature finds that there is a real need to identify important
17 agricultural lands and provide a mechanism by which to fulfill
18 the intent and purpose of article XI, section 3, of the Hawaii
19 State Constitution, which seeks to conserve and protect
20 agricultural lands.
21      The purpose of this Act is to create a new commission to:
22      (1)  Identify important agricultural lands;

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2

 1      (2)  Address the intent of article XI, section 3, of the
 2           Hawaii State Constitution, to conserve and protect
 3           agricultural lands and promote diversified agriculture
 4           within the context of Hawaii's changing circumstances;
 5           and 
 6      (3)  Examine related land use issues.
 7      SECTION 2.  (a)  There is established, within the
 8 legislative reference bureau for administrative purposes, the
 9 State of Hawaii important agricultural lands commission comprised
10 of thirteen voting members as follows:
11      (1)  Three members representing the following organizations,
12           one from each organization, appointed by the governor:
13           (A)  The Land Use Research Foundation;
14           (B)  The Office of Hawaiian Affairs; and
15           (C)  The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation;
16      (2)  One member representing agricultural workers, appointed
17           by the governor from a list of four nominees, two of
18           whom shall be nominated by the president of the senate
19           and two of whom shall be nominated by the speaker of
20           the house of representatives; and
21      (3)  One member representing a conservation organization,
22           appointed by the governor from a list of four nominees,
23           two of whom shall be nominated by the president of the

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2

 1           senate and two of whom shall be nominated by the
 2           speaker of the house of representatives; and
 3      (4)  The chairperson of the board of agriculture, the
 4           chairperson of the board of land and natural resources,
 5           the director of the office of planning in the
 6           department of business, economic development, and
 7           tourism, the director of the college of tropical
 8           agriculture and human resources, and the planning
 9           director of each of the four counties, or their
10           designated representatives, serving as ex-officio
11           members.
12      The chairperson of the board of agriculture shall serve as
13 the chair of the commission.  Any vacancy on the commission shall
14 be filled in the same manner in which the original position was
15 filled.  The members of the commission shall serve without
16 compensation, but shall be reimbursed for expenses, including
17 travel expenses, necessary for the performance of their duties.
18      (b)  The commission shall:
19      (1)  Identify important agricultural lands based on one or
20           more of the agricultural land rating systems described
21           in the 1986 LESA commission report; and
22      (2)  Recommend incentives for landowners to keep their lands
23           in agricultural production, which may include tax
24           exemptions and agricultural easements.

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2

 1      (c)  The commission shall categorize important agricultural
 2 lands into the following three classes:
 3      (1)  Prime agricultural lands.
 4           These lands are defined as lands with the best
 5           combination of physical and chemical characteristics
 6           for the production of food, feed, forage, fiber, and
 7           oilseed crops, and are also available for these uses
 8           (the lands are not urban built-up lands or a water
 9           body).  These lands have the soil quality, growing
10           season, and moisture supply needed to produce sustained
11           high yields of crops with the least inputs when treated
12           and managed, including water management, according to
13           accepted farming methods.
14      (2)  Unique agricultural lands.
15           These lands are defined as lands that do not meet the
16           prime agricultural land criteria that are used for the
17           production of specific high-value crops of significance
18           to the State or local economy.  Unique high-value crops
19           may include coffee, macadamia nuts, or other tree and
20           bush crops, taro, rice, watercress, nonirrigated
21           pineapple, and other fruits and vegetables.  These
22           lands have the special combination of physical, soil,
23           climatic, or other conditions, such as nearness to

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2

 1           market, that favor the production of a specific crop of
 2           high quality or high yield when the land is treated and
 3           managed according to accepted farming methods.
 4      (3)  Other important agricultural lands.
 5           These lands are defined as lands that do not meet the
 6           criteria for prime or unique agricultural land that are
 7           of statewide or local importance for the production of
 8           food, feed, fiber, forage, and oilseed crops.  The
 9           lands in this class are important to agriculture in
10           Hawaii, yet exhibit properties, such as seasonal
11           wetness, erodibility, limited rooting zone, slope,
12           flooding, or inadequate moisture supply, that exclude
13           them from the prime or unique classifications.  These
14           lands can be farmed satisfactorily by providing
15           irrigation, applying greater inputs of fertilizer and
16           other soil amendments, drainage improvement, erosion
17           control practices or flood protection, and produce fair
18           to good crop yields when managed properly.
19      (d)  The commission shall exclude from its examination all
20 lands that, as of the effective date of this Act, are:
21      (1)  Classified in the state urban land use district;
22      (2)  Designated for urban use in an adopted county general
23           plan, development plan, or community plan; or

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2

 1      (3)  Zoned by any county for an urban use.
 2      (e)  The identification by the commission of important
 3 agricultural lands shall not be construed as the State's
 4 identification of important agricultural lands under article XI,
 5 section 3 of the state constitution.  An identification for
 6 constitutional purposes shall be made only upon the adoption of
 7 legislation specific for that purpose.
 8      (f)  The commission shall invite the participation of the
 9 general public, particularly persons having an interest in
10 agricultural lands located in the state.  Public information
11 meetings and hearings may be held as frequently as deemed
12 necessary and feasible prior to submission of the commission's
13 report.
14      (g)  The commission shall cease to exist on June 30, 2000.
15      SECTION 3.  The State of Hawaii important agricultural lands
16 commission shall submit to the legislature no later than twenty
17 days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2000 a
18 report of its findings and recommendations, including:
19      (1)  A set of maps that identifies important agricultural
20           lands (according to its tax map key plat, if feasible);
21      (2)  Recommended incentives for landowners to keep their
22           lands in agricultural production; and
23      (3)  Proposed legislation.

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                                     H.B. NO.           H.D. 2

 1      SECTION 4.  There is appropriated out of the general
 2 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $         or so much
 3 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 1999-2000 for the
 4 State of Hawaii important agricultural lands commission to carry
 5 out the purposes of this Act; provided that funds shall also be
 6 used for geographic information system improvements and any
 7 specialized spatial analysis necessary to meet the mapping and
 8 analytical needs of the commission, including equipment and data
 9 acquisition, conversion, and interpretation.
10      The sum appropriated shall be expended by the legislative
11 reference bureau for the purposes of this Act.
12      SECTION 5.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval;
13 except that section 4 shall take effect on July 1, 1999.