Maui Council 2017


Hawaii House -- Rep. Angus McKelvey

Representative Overview

House District 10
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 320
phone: 808-586-6160
fax: 808-586-6161

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Rep McKelvey and Pesticide Bill


March 9, 2017

Contact: Ashley Lukens; 808-687-0087,

Hawaiʻi Fails to Protect Children from Toxic Pesticides

Mandatory disclosure bill killed on the House floor

HONOLULU— Today a bill died on the Hawai‘i House floor, and with it, immediate hopes to protect children and other impacted community members from the poisonous effects of toxic pesticides. After passing through three committees, HB 790 – a bill that would have required chemical companies to give advanced notice before spraying pesticides around schools – was killed during a final House vote. The bill was re-referred, late into session, to the House Consumer Protection Committee where the committee Chair, Angus McKelvey from Maui, inserted language that made it too contentious to cross over to the Senate.

“By not passing this mandatory pesticide disclosure law, our state representatives have failed to protect our children and communities. Our keiki deserve better,” said Ashley Lukens, director of Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety (HCFS).

The vote saw major backlash from community members who, given broad public engagement and the demonstration of scientific data linking pesticide exposure to major health impacts, especially in children, were devastated to see state representatives fail to protect our keiki.

“This kind of backroom maneuvering to serve the anti-regulatory agenda of industrial agriculture tells us that the power of our community is growing. It is only a matter of time until we win. Publicly aligning with companies like Monsanto is political suicide, so their advocates inside government are using back channels to get this work done,” said community advocate and Lahaina resident Kai Nishiki. “Today we remind every elected official that we are watching. We understand this process and we will not allow it to continue.”

According to a 2012 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) entitled “Pesticide Exposure in Children,” children exposed to chronic, low-level exposure to Restricted Use Pesticides, like chlorpyrifos are at a risk of neurodevelopmental disabilities like autism and ADHD, as well as leukemia and asthma. Currently there are at least 27 schools in Hawai‘i located within a mile of fields where agrichemical companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical spray restricted-use pesticides. Requiring advanced notification disclosing pesticide use would have given the school officials a chance to close windows and even move class locations to avoid direct drift contact.

“The spin and misinformation put out there by the industry—and unfortunately some of our legislators—is not fooling the public. This is about giving Hawaiʻi residents the most basic ‘right to know’ what’s being sprayed near our homes, hospitals and schools,” said Gary Hooser, former State Senator, Kauaʻi Councilmember and volunteer President for the Hawaiʻi Alliance of Progressive Action (HAPA). “The public’s health concerns will not go away until the state takes the real action needed to protect Hawaiʻi’s people and environment.”

A 2016 Joint Fact Finding Study Group (JFFSG) report revealed major gaps in state regulations of pesticides and the agrichemical industry responsible for exposing residents and communities to known toxins, and recommended that state government set new standards for chronic, low-level exposure to pesticides over time, rather than solely focusing on one-time acute exposure. In particular the report called for the implementation of a consistent, no-spray buffer policy around sensitive areas like schools to protect children from pesticide drift, and mandatory public disclosure of pesticide use by large agribusinesses throughout the state.

The Protect our Keiki Coalition will continue to put the pressure on state lawmakers to enforce mandatory, comprehensive pesticide disclosure regulations, and to implement more safety measures like buffer zones. One bill still being considered (SB 778) would appropriate $3 million to implement recommendations from the findings of the Kauaʻi Joint Fact Finding report. These recommendations include Protect out Keiki’s core policy priorities: mandatory disclosure and notification of pesticides and no-spray buffer zones around sensitive areas.

Additional Resources:

HCFS “Pesticides in Paradise” Report

Joint Fact Finding Study Group Report

More information about the need for these bills can be found at:


The Protect our Keiki Coalition is a statewide coalition advocating for the protection of our keiki and kupuna from the dangers of toxic pesticide use. The coalition includes Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety, Hawaiʻi SEED, Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action, Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi, SHAKA Movement, Babes Against Biotech, GMO Free Kauaʻi, AIKEA Movement, Young Progressives Demanding Action, and The Mom Hui, among other allies.

McKelvey on Pesticide Regulation

From Civil Beat article today: Will Hawaii Restrict Pesticides, Require More Disclosure From Big Ag?

"Rep. Angus McKelvey said he isn’t inclined to give any of the pesticide-related bills that have been referred to his committee a hearing.

McKelvey said he’s not planning to call a hearing for any of the three pesticide-related bills referred to his committee on consumer protection. They propose a ban on chlorpyrifos and a call for a change in the membership of the pesticide advisory committee.

The representative said he was told by Souki that the measure sent to Yamane, House Bill 1282, is the “vehicle” for pesticide-related proposals in the House, which means it’s the preferred measure for approval.

McKelvey thinks whittling the bills to fewer measures makes sense because it’s less confusing.

“We’re just too overloaded and there’s so many different versions floating around,” he said.

Even though he’s not going to call hearings on the measures, McKelvey is hopeful that the House will pass some version of a bill to regulate pesticides this year, although he doesn’t think it’s fair to focus entirely on farmers.

“I think there’s a very good chance if we can focus on one vehicle and have one encompassing discussion,” he said. “I think the chances diminish quite considerably the more bills you have floating around.”

Bennette Misalucha, director of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, the local trade group for the seed industry, said she supports the governor’s stance.

“We are in favor of providing additional resources to the Department of Agriculture,” she said, noting that the industry supports “whatever the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and Department of Health feel is appropriate. … The biggest problem really on pesticides is the fact that we need to educate our regular homeowners on the issue of pesticides.”

That rings true to Rep. Lynn DeCoite, a farmer from Molokai. She fears more regulation will make it harder for her and other farmers to earn a living, and lists other issues like second-hand smoke, sewer overflows and homeowner pesticide misuse as more pressing.

Like McKelvey, DeCoite believes that if the Legislature is going to demand pesticide use disclosure, it shouldn’t be limited to agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture deals with many instances of misuse of pesticides by homeowners, but there are also problems with farmers and large seed companies misusing chemicals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to fine Syngenta $4.8 million after several farmworkers got sick last year."

[note: Rep McKelvey has received campaign contributions from: Monsanto, Syngenta, A&B and Dupont]