Stay safe and stay engaged | News, Sports, Jobs
If you’ve watched TV or listened to the radio in the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard me and my colleagues in public service announcements urging you to remain vigilant in the face of COVID-19.
Of course, we don’t claim to be public health experts. But we care about our community and, as elected officials, we feel compelled to share the advice we receive from scientists and doctors who are doing their best to help us minimize suffering as we enter the third pandemic year.
I thank the State Department of Health website for providing regular and clear updates to the public. The DOH operates the Hawaii State Portal at hawaiicovid19.com, which provides these four main points:
• Get vaccinated or remember.
• Wear a mask.
• Maintain physical distancing.
• Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
It’s a simple message, but bears repeating as we all battle fatigue from the virus and continue to try to protect ourselves, our families and our colleagues.
I also thank Governor David Y. Ige for extending his emergency proclamation that exclusively allows online meetings of the Maui County Council, its committees, and other state and county boards and commissions at least until March 25.
With council members participating from Maui County’s three populated islands and residents testifying from their homes, offices, cars, the beach and even the grocery store, the council continued to conduct public business via video conferencing.
We are in the middle of a busy part of the schedule. The 2022 state legislative session was held on January 19, and I’ve been busy submitting testimony to Senate and House committees.
So far, I’ve testified in favor of bills allowing counties to regulate vacation rental accommodation platforms, set climate change mitigation impact fees for cars from location, create two new positions for the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, and give county councils more time. to review accelerated housing projects. I have also testified in opposition to several bills that would defeat self-government by repealing county authority.
I will continue to watch the legislature until the session adjourns on May 5.
Friday’s council meeting will include a committee report on an innovative bill from the Committee on Climate Action, Resilience and the Environment that will launch energy benchmarking in buildings across the county. This program promises to save taxpayers money on county power bills while minimizing the county’s climate impacts.
Later this month, the council’s government relations, ethics and transparency committee will begin two major tasks: reviewing the mayor’s annual list of nominees for councils and commissions and reviewing proposals from the charter commission. 2021-2022 aimed at changing the structure of our local government. I am grateful to the volunteers who will soon begin a journey of public service with a county council or commission and to those of the Charter Commission, whose diligent and thoughtful work will be completed in a few months.
The council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee will begin its annual review of the county’s annual budget shortly after receiving Mayor Michael P. Victorino’s budget proposal late next month.
The other permanent council committees will take a break during the budget session. But in the meantime, committee chairs are busy prioritizing meeting agenda items.
Nothing is official until the agendas are posted. But my colleagues have mentioned a lot of interesting topics that could be discussed before the budget session.
The county’s new Department of Agriculture, approved by the electorate two years ago, could be the subject of a bill in the Agriculture and Public Trust Committee to establish policies and programs. The infrastructure and transportation committee can review aircraft noise and flight paths over Maui County.
The Human Concerns and Parks Committee will likely continue its oversight of county recreation facilities and programs, including the lease for the Veterans of Foreign Wars activity site in Kihei. The Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee can review county enforcement efforts on unauthorized vacation rentals.
And, of course, the Affordable Housing Committee continues its methodical review of policy proposals in the comprehensive affordable housing plan launched by the council.
Please continue to stay safe. And please continue to stay engaged with your community and your local government.
* Alice L. Lee is the president of the Maui County Council. She holds the county council seat for the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residential area. “3 Minutes of the Council” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Visit mauicounty.us for more information.