REPORT TITLE:
Agricultural Lands


DESCRIPTION:
Proposes standards, criteria, and proces for the identification
of important agriculture lands.

 
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THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________


                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

RELATING TO AGRICULTURAL LANDS.



BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the Hawaii State
 
 2 Constitution requires the State to conserve and protect
 
 3 agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase
 
 4 agricultural self-sufficiency, and assure the availability of
 
 5 agriculturally suitable lands.  Article XI, section 3 of the
 
 6 Constitution directs the legislature to provide standards and
 
 7 criteria to achieve these objectives.
 
 8      Furthermore, article XI, section 3 prohibits the
 
 9 reclassification by the State or the rezoning by the counties of
 
10 lands identified by the State as important agricultural lands
 
11 without meeting these standards and criteria, and requires
 
12 approval by two-thirds of the membership of the decision-making
 
13 body.
 
14      The legislature finds there has been a dramatic shift in
 
15 agriculture in Hawaii.  Former plantation lands, once dedicated
 
16 to sugarcane and pineapple production, are now producing
 
17 diversified crops.  Niche markets for specialty, high-value
 
18 agricultural crops have emerged.
 
19      The legislature finds that the conservation of the State's
 

 
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 1 strategic agricultural land resources is not only critical to the
 
 2 long-term viability of agriculture and State efforts to diversify
 
 3 and expand Hawaii's economic base, but it is also vital to the
 
 4 quality of visitor experiences, and the livelihood and well-being
 
 5 of Hawaii residents.  Thus, the legislature finds there is a need
 
 6 to fulfill the State's obligation under article XI, section 3 of
 
 7 the Constitution to sustain Hawaii's agricultural capability and
 
 8 diversify the State's economy.
 
 9      The purpose of this Act is to establish the standards and
 
10 criteria and the process for the identification of important
 
11 agricultural lands to the State.  The legislature recognizes that
 
12 this Act is only the first step in addressing the state
 
13 constitutional mandate, and that further legislation is required
 
14 to fully implement the constitutional mandate.
 
15      The Act also provides an one-time process by which lands of
 
16 low agricultural resource value or those already subdivided and
 
17 developed for non-agricultural uses may be reclassified to the
 
18 rural land use district.  This will enable the State to focus its
 
19 agricultural policies and programs on those lands identified as
 
20 having significant resource value to the State's agricultural
 
21 sector.
 
22      SECTION 2.  Chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
 
23 by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read
 

 
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 1 as follows:
 
 2             "PART    .  IMPORTANT AGRICULTURAL LANDS
 
 3      205-A  Important agricultural lands; definition; purpose.
 
 4 (a)  Pursuant to article XI, section 3 of the Hawaii State
 
 5 Constitution, this part establishes the standards and criteria by
 
 6 which the State shall identify important agricultural lands and
 
 7 ensure the sound management of these lands so as to achieve state
 
 8 agricultural objectives of conserving and protecting agricultural
 
 9 lands, promoting diversified agriculture, increasing agricultural
 
10 self-sufficiency, and ensuring the availability of agriculturally
 
11 suitable lands.
 
12      (b)  "Important agricultural lands" means those lands
 
13 identified by the State in accordance with this part that:
 
14      (1)  Are capable of producing sustained high agricultural
 
15           yields when treated and managed according to accepted
 
16           farming methods and technology;
 
17      (2)  Contribute to the economic base of the State and
 
18           produce agricultural commodities for export or local
 
19           consumption; or
 
20      (3)  Are needed to promote the expansion of agricultural
 
21           activities and income for the future, even if currently
 
22           not in production.
 
23      (c)  The purpose for the identification and protection of
 

 
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 1 important agricultural lands is to conserve the State's
 
 2 agricultural lands as a strategic economic resource for current
 
 3 and future agricultural production and agricultural economic
 
 4 opportunities, and to mitigate factors that threaten the
 
 5 viability of agricultural operations and agricultural investment.
 
 6 State and county agricultural policies, land use plans,
 
 7 ordinances, and rules governing agricultural lands shall promote
 
 8 the long-term viability of agricultural use of important
 
 9 agricultural lands, and shall be consistent with and implement
 
10 the following policies:
 
11      (1)  Promote the retention of important agricultural lands
 
12           in blocks of contiguous, intact, and functional land
 
13           units large enough to allow flexibility in agricultural
 
14           production and management;
 
15      (2)  Discourage the fragmentation of important agricultural
 
16           lands and the conversion of these lands to non-
 
17           agricultural uses;
 
18      (3)  Direct non-agricultural uses and activities from
 
19           important agricultural lands to other areas and ensure
 
20           that uses on important agricultural lands are
 
21           agricultural uses;
 
22      (4)  Buffer important agricultural lands from urban or
 
23           incompatible uses and minimize nuisance conflicts that
 

 
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 1           could impair agricultural activities;
 
 2      (5)  Encourage limited physical improvements on important
 
 3           agricultural lands to maintain affordability of these
 
 4           lands for agricultural purposes;
 
 5      (6)  Provide a basic level of infrastructure and services
 
 6           limited to the minimum necessary to support
 
 7           agricultural uses and activities;
 
 8      (7)  Facilitate the long-term dedication and preservation of
 
 9           important agricultural lands for future agricultural
 
10           use;
 
11      (8)  Facilitate access of farmers to important agricultural
 
12           lands for long-term agricultural use; and
 
13      (9)  Promote the maintenance of essential agricultural
 
14           infrastructure systems, including irrigation systems.
 
15      (d)  Uses on important agricultural lands shall be
 
16 restricted to agricultural uses and uses that directly support or
 
17 are essential for agricultural production; provided that the
 
18 uses, as far as practicable, require minimal services or physical
 
19 improvements to the land.
 
20      205-B  Standards, criteria for identification of important
 
21 agricultural lands.(a)  The classes, standards, and criteria of
 
22 the agricultural lands of importance to the State of Hawaii
 
23 (ALISH) classification system adopted by the board of agriculture
 

 
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 1 on January 28, 1977, shall be used to identify the important
 
 2 agricultural lands needed to meet the State's agricultural
 
 3 objectives, pursuant to article XI, section 3, of the Hawaii
 
 4 State Constitution.
 
 5      (b)  The agricultural lands of importance to the State of
 
 6 Hawaii classification system shall generally conform to the
 
 7 classification system of the United States Department of
 
 8 Agriculture under 7 Code of Federal Regulations Part 657.5, as
 
 9 amended.  The agricultural lands of importance to the State of
 
10 Hawaii classification system shall consist of three classes of
 
11 important agricultural lands:  prime, unique, and other important
 
12 agricultural lands.  These classes are generally described below;
 
13 provided that the technical criteria for the classification of
 
14 prime agricultural land contained in 7 Code of Federal
 
15 Regulations Part 657.5, as amended, shall be adopted herein by
 
16 reference:
 
17      (1)  Prime agricultural land.  These lands are defined as
 
18           lands with the best combination of physical and
 
19           chemical characteristics for the production of food,
 
20           feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops, and are also
 
21           available for these uses (the land is not urban built-
 
22           up land or a water body).  These lands have the soil
 
23           quality, growing season, and moisture supply needed to
 

 
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 1           produce sustained high yields of crops with the least
 
 2           amount of inputs when treated and managed, including
 
 3           water management, according to accepted farming
 
 4           methods;
 
 5      (2)  Unique agricultural land.  These lands are defined as
 
 6           lands that do not meet the prime agricultural land
 
 7           criteria but are used for the production of specific
 
 8           high-value crops of significance to the state or local
 
 9           economy.  Unique high-value crops may include but not
 
10           be limited to coffee, macadamia nuts, or other tree and
 
11           bush crops, taro, rice, watercress, non-irrigated
 
12           pineapple, and other fruits and vegetables.  These
 
13           lands have the special combination of physical, soil,
 
14           climatic, or other conditions, such as nearness to
 
15           market, that favor the production of a specific crop of
 
16           high quality, high yield, or both, when the land is
 
17           treated and managed according to accepted farming
 
18           methods; and
 
19      (3)  Other important agricultural land.  These lands are
 
20           defined as lands that do not meet the criteria for
 
21           prime or unique agricultural land but are of statewide
 
22           or local importance for the production of food, feed,
 
23           fiber, forage, and oilseed crops.  The lands in this
 

 
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 1           class are important to agriculture in Hawaii, yet
 
 2           exhibit properties, such as seasonal wetness,
 
 3           erodibility, limited rooting zone, slope, flooding, or
 
 4           inadequate moisture supply, that exclude them from the
 
 5           prime or unique classifications.  These lands can be
 
 6           farmed satisfactorily by providing irrigation, applying
 
 7           fertilizer and other soil amendments, drainage
 
 8           improvements, erosion control practices, or flood
 
 9           protection, and produce fair to good crop yields when
 
10           managed properly.
 
11      (c)  Only those lands composed predominantly of soil survey
 
12 map units listed as meeting the requirements for national prime
 
13 farmland by the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural
 
14 Resources Conservation Service, Honolulu, Hawaii, pursuant to 7
 
15 Code of Federal Regulations Part 657.5, as amended, shall be
 
16 classified as prime agricultural land.
 
17      (d)  Important agricultural lands to the State of Hawaii
 
18 shall not include lands that are classified in the state urban
 
19 land use district and lands zoned by each county for urban use.
 
20      (e)  Lands designated by the land use commission in
 
21 conformance with this part shall constitute the important
 
22 agricultural lands to the State of Hawaii pursuant to article XI,
 
23 section 3, of the Hawaii State Constitution.
 

 
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 1      205-C  Designation of important agricultural lands.(a)
 
 2 The land use commission shall adopt maps designating important
 
 3 agricultural lands to the State, through notice and public
 
 4 meetings in accordance with chapter 92, on or before December 31,
 
 5 2001.  The adoption and revision of the maps of important
 
 6 agricultural lands shall be approved by two-thirds of the
 
 7 membership to which the land use commission is entitled.
 
 8      (b)  The office of planning, in cooperation with the
 
 9 department of agriculture, shall identify and prepare maps of
 
10 agricultural lands to be recommended for designation under this
 
11 section.  The office of planning and the department of
 
12 agriculture shall identify and prepare the maps in consultation
 
13 and cooperation with representatives from the county planning
 
14 agencies, small and large farmers, and other agricultural
 
15 interest groups, including the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation,
 
16 state and federal agricultural research and service agencies,
 
17 including the United States Department of Agriculture - Natural
 
18 Resources Conservation Service, landowners, agricultural workers,
 
19 environmental organizations, native Hawaiian organizations, and
 
20 other groups as necessary.
 
21      (c)  The office of planning and the department of
 
22 agriculture, in consultation with agency and interest groups,
 
23 shall use the standards and criteria of the ALISH system adopted
 

 
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 1 under this part to identify the lands to be recommended for
 
 2 designation as important agricultural lands by the land use
 
 3 commission.
 
 4      (d)  The office of planning and the department of
 
 5 agriculture shall ensure that opportunities for public
 
 6 participation and comment are provided in each county in both the
 
 7 identification of potential lands and the development of
 
 8 recommendations for designation.  At least one public information
 
 9 meeting shall be held in each county prior to the issuance of the
 
10 final recommendations to the commission.  The office of planning
 
11 and the department of agriculture may hold other public
 
12 information meetings as frequently as deemed necessary and
 
13 feasible.
 
14      (e)  The land use commission shall conduct at least one
 
15 public meeting in each county to solicit comments and concerns
 
16 regarding the recommendations for designation of important
 
17 agricultural lands.  At the time the commission adopts the maps
 
18 designating important agricultural lands, the commission shall
 
19 also adopt a report or findings to include comments received in
 
20 the public meeting process, the basis for the designation of
 
21 important agricultural lands, concerns or issues related to the
 
22 designations, and any other criteria used to mark the boundaries
 
23 of important agricultural lands.
 

 
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 1      (f)  Copies of the maps of important agricultural lands
 
 2 adopted under this section shall be transmitted to each county
 
 3 planning department and each county council.  The maps of
 
 4 important agricultural lands shall guide all decision-making on
 
 5 the proposed reclassification or rezoning of important
 
 6 agricultural lands, state agricultural development programs, and
 
 7 other state and county land use planning and decision-making.
 
 8      (g)  The land use commission shall have the sole authority
 
 9 to interpret the adopted map boundaries delineating the important
 
10 agricultural lands to the State of Hawaii.
 
11      (h)  The land use commission, assisted by the office of
 
12 planning and the department of agriculture, shall review the maps
 
13 of important agricultural lands at least every five years.  Any
 
14 revision of the maps of important agricultural lands shall be
 
15 conducted in accordance with this section.
 
16      205-D  Interim procedures and decision-making criteria for
 
17 lands in the agricultural district.(a)  Any reclassification,
 
18 rezoning, or special permits involving lands in the state
 
19 agricultural land use district as of the effective date of this
 
20 Act shall be subject to this section. This section shall remain
 
21 in full force and effect until the effective date of standards
 
22 and criteria for the use of important agricultural lands and the
 
23 reclassification or rezoning of important agricultural lands are
 

 
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 1 enacted and take effect.
 
 2      (b)  Any decision of the land use commission and any
 
 3 decision of any county under this section for the
 
 4 reclassification, rezoning, or a special permit involving lands
 
 5 in the agricultural district, shall be approved by the body
 
 6 responsible for the decision by a two-thirds vote of the
 
 7 membership to which the body is entitled.
 
 8      (c)  Any land use commission or county decision pursuant to
 
 9 this section shall be based on the following interim decision-
 
10 making criteria:
 
11      (1)  The importance of the land for agriculture based on the
 
12           land's agricultural suitability and the stock of
 
13           similarly suited lands on the island where the land is
 
14           situated;
 
15      (2)  The impact the proposed reclassification, zone change,
 
16           permit, or use will have on the productivity or
 
17           viability of agricultural activities in the surrounding
 
18           area, and the impact, if any, on the viability of other
 
19           agricultural activities or operations that share
 
20           infrastructure, processing, marketing, or other
 
21           production-related costs or facilities with the
 
22           agricultural activities of on the land in question;
 
23      (3)  The degree to which the proposed reclassification, zone
 

 
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 1           change, permit, or use would contribute to the
 
 2           fragmentation of or intrusion of non-agricultural uses
 
 3           into largely intact areas of important agricultural
 
 4           lands;
 
 5      (4)  The degree to which the proposed reclassification, zone
 
 6           change, permit, or use is consistent with and
 
 7           implements the land use policies and patterns in the
 
 8           adopted county general plan and development or
 
 9           community plans;
 
10      (5)  The public benefit to be derived from the proposed use,
 
11           in terms of meeting a demonstrated need for housing,
 
12           employment, economic development, or public facilities;
 
13      (6)  The need for additional lands for non-agricultural or
 
14           residential purposes based on available zoned capacity
 
15           of lands in the urban and rural districts; and
 
16      (7)  The impact of the proposed reclassification, zone
 
17           change, permit, or use on the capacity of public
 
18           agencies to provide and support additional
 
19           infrastructure or services in the project area.
 
20      Any decision shall be based upon a written finding that on
 
21 balance the public benefit from the proposed reclassification,
 
22 zone change, permit, or use outweighs the retention of the land
 
23 for agricultural purposes, and that the proposed action will have
 

 
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 1 no significant impact upon the viability of agricultural
 
 2 operations on adjacent agricultural lands.
 
 3      (d)  The decision-making criteria of this section shall be
 
 4 in addition to the decision-making criteria of section 205-17
 
 5 governing decisions of the land use commission under this
 
 6 chapter, and the decision-making criteria adopted by each county
 
 7 governing decisions of county decision-making authorities under
 
 8 this chapter.
 
 9      (e)  Upon acceptance by the county for processing, any
 
10 application for a zone change involving lands in the agricultural
 
11 district shall be referred to the department of agriculture and
 
12 the office of planning for review and comment. Any application
 
13 for a county zone change which would permit uses other than those
 
14 expressly permitted in section 205-4.5 shall be subject to
 
15 approval by the land use commission prior to county decision-
 
16 making on the application."
 
17      SECTION 3.  Adoption of new agricultural and rural district
 
18 boundaries.  (a)  The legislature finds that the agricultural
 
19 district includes lands with low agricultural potential, as well
 
20 as lands which are no longer suitable for agricultural use.  The
 
21 legislature further finds that the state rural land use district
 
22 offers an important, but underutilized, tool for buffering
 
23 agricultural and conservation resources from urban uses, for the
 

 
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 1 siting of agricultural support activities, and for accommodating
 
 2 appropriately-scaled non-agricultural uses.  This section
 
 3 provides for an one-time, expedited process for the
 
 4 reclassification of certain lands in the agricultural district
 
 5 that are not identified as important agricultural lands to the
 
 6 rural land use district.  The purpose of this process is to
 
 7 create a more viable rural district, primarily in those areas
 
 8 where rural communities already exist and agricultural lands have
 
 9 already been subdivided and developed as low-density residential
 
10 communities or put to non-agricultural use.
 
11      (b)  The process contained in this section shall be
 
12 conducted in conjunction with the process for the identification
 
13 and designation of important agricultural lands to the State as
 
14 established in section 205-C of section 2 of this Act.
 
15      (c)  The office of planning shall prepare maps displaying
 
16 proposed new agricultural and rural district boundaries.  Lands
 
17 identified as important agricultural lands under this Act shall
 
18 be retained in the agricultural district.  The office shall
 
19 identify lands within the agricultural district that are not
 
20 identified as important agricultural lands that may be
 
21 appropriate for reclassification to the rural district.  The
 
22 office shall develop criteria for this purpose; provided that
 
23 priority shall be placed on the reclassification of those lands
 

 
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 1 that are already subdivided and are developed for non-
 
 2 agricultural uses.
 
 3      (d)  The office of planning shall consult with the county
 
 4 planning departments in the identification of potential areas for
 
 5 reclassification and in the preparation of the new agricultural
 
 6 and rural district classification maps for each county.  The
 
 7 office may also consult with other affected state, county, and
 
 8 federal agencies and other private and community stakeholders in
 
 9 this process.  The district boundary amendments proposed under
 
10 this section shall be exempt from the provisions of sections 6E-
 
11 2, 6E-8, and 6E-42, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
 
12      (e)  The office of planning shall submit the proposed
 
13 agricultural and rural district classification maps to the land
 
14 use commission with a report documenting the criteria used and
 
15 the rationale for the proposed district boundaries, the process
 
16 used in developing proposed district boundaries, the stakeholders
 
17 involved in the process, and the comments and concerns raised
 
18 during the process.
 
19      (f)  The commission shall hold at least one public meeting
 
20 in accordance with chapter 92 in each county prior to the final
 
21 adoption by the commission of the new agricultural and rural
 
22 district boundaries for that county. Notice of the time and place
 
23 of the meeting shall be published in accordance with chapter 92,
 

 
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 1 Hawaii Revised Statutes.  The notice shall indicate the time and
 
 2 place that the maps showing the proposed district boundaries
 
 3 within the county may be inspected prior to the meeting.  Any
 
 4 person wishing to file written recommendations, or comments with
 
 5 the commission shall file the materials within fifteen days of
 
 6 the meeting.
 
 7      (g)  The commission shall approve, disapprove, or approve
 
 8 with modifications the district boundaries.  The new district
 
 9 boundaries shall be approved by two-thirds of the membership to
 
10 which the land use commission is entitled.  The district
 
11 boundaries shall be adopted in final form on or before December
 
12 31, 2001; provided that at the time of adoption, the land use
 
13 commission shall also adopt a report or findings documenting the
 
14 basis for the approved district boundaries, including the basis
 
15 for any modifications to the recommended boundaries made by the
 
16 commission.
 
17      (h)  When adopting the new agricultural and rural district
 
18 boundaries pursuant to this section, the commission shall
 
19 specifically consider the following:
 
20      (1)  The extent to which the proposed reclassification
 
21           protects the important agricultural lands identified
 
22           pursuant to this Act;
 
23      (2)  The extent to which the proposed reclassification
 

 
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 1           conforms to county general and development plans;
 
 2      (3)  The impact of the proposed reclassification on state
 
 3           funds and resources and the provision of public
 
 4           infrastructure and services to affected areas; and
 
 5      (4)  The potential impact of the proposed reclassification
 
 6           on significant conservation, historic, archaeological,
 
 7           or cultural resources.
 
 8      (i)  Any person who provided written or oral comments at the
 
 9 commission's public meeting or filed written comments with the
 
10 commission in accordance with this section, may petition the
 
11 commission for a declaratory ruling under the rules established
 
12 by the commission.  The petition shall be filed within thirty
 
13 days of the effective date of the adoption of the district
 
14 boundaries.  The district boundaries and classification of
 
15 parcels not subject to a petition for declaratory ruling shall
 
16 remain in full force and effect.
 
17      (j)  All district boundary amendments other than those
 
18 processed pursuant to this section shall be subject to the
 
19 district boundary amendment processes provided in sections
 
20 205-3.1 and 205-4, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
 
21      (k)  Any state or county approval of projects involving a
 
22 permit, license, certificate, land use change, subdivision, or
 
23 other entitlement for use, on lands which are reclassified by the
 

 
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 1 commission pursuant to this section, shall be subject to sections
 
 2 6E-8 and 6E-42, Hawaii Revised Statutes, and chapter 205, Hawaii
 
 3 Revised Statutes, as amended.
 
 4      (l)  For any proposed project involving lands reclassified
 
 5 by the commission pursuant to this section, the applicable State
 
 6 or county agency or officer shall advise the department of land
 
 7 and natural resources of any application involving a permit,
 
 8 license, certificate, land use change, subdivision, or other
 
 9 entitlement for use of such lands, which may affect threatened or
 
10 endangered species and their associated ecosystems.  The agency
 
11 or officer shall allow the department of land and natural
 
12 resources an opportunity for review and comment on the effect of
 
13 the proposed project on threatened or endangered species and
 
14 their associated ecosystems prior to any approval.
 
15      SECTION 4.  All boundary amendment petitions filed with and
 
16 accepted by the state land use commission or the appropriate
 
17 county land use decision-making authority, and all state land use
 
18 special permit petitions filed with and accepted by the county
 
19 planning commission on or before the effective date of this Act
 
20 shall not be subject to the provisions of this Act.
 
21      Applications for county general plan and community or
 
22 development plan amendments, zone changes, subdivision
 
23 applications, and development approvals involving lands in the
 

 
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 1 agricultural land use district filed with and accepted by the
 
 2 appropriate county land use decision-making authority on or
 
 3 before the effective date of this Act shall not be subject to the
 
 4 provisions of this Act.
 
 5      SECTION 5.  There is appropriated out of the general
 
 6 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $______, or so much
 
 7 thereof as may be necessary, for fiscal year 2000-2001 to carry
 
 8 out the purposes of this Act.  Of the sum appropriated for fiscal
 
 9 year 2000-2001, $______ shall be expended by the land use
 
10 commission and $______ shall be expended by the office of
 
11 planning for the purposes of this Act.
 
12      SECTION 6.  In codifying the new sections added to the
 
13 Hawaii Revised Statutes by section 2 and referenced in section 3,
 
14 the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section
 
15 numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in
 
16 this Act.
 
17      SECTION 7.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval;
 
18 except that section 5 shall take effect on July 1, 2000. 
 
19 
 
20                           INTRODUCED BY:  _______________________
 

 
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