By State Senator Sam Slom
House Bill 174 – GMO food labeling – Imposing labeling requirements and import restrictions on imported genetically engineered produce was heard on Thursday, March 21.The bill authorizes labeling of non-genetically engineered food. HB 174 was not going to be heard until Senate leadership changed their minds at the last minute and assigned it to the Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Health Committees on March 19, two days before the double referral deadline. The hearing was held 2 days later in the morning for 2 hours starting at 10:00 a.m.
Hundreds of people lined up to testify at the hearing, only to see the bill deferred by the end of the day. A Senate Concurrent Resolution will commission further study on the issue of food labeling.
I did not support this version of the GMO food labeling bill after the State Attorney General issued an opinion that “GMO labels have been pre-empted by the federal government,” it violates both the First Amendment (commercial free speech), and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
Senator Slom would have had 3 “no” votes on HB 174 had the bill come to a vote. The reason? Senator Slom is a member of all Senate committees and thus eligible to vote in this case in Agriculture, Consumer Protection and the Health Committees. He is shown at the HB 174 hearing with majority Senators Baker, Nishihara and English.
March 27 – Floor Action: Session Day #39
The State Senate passed 7 House Bills on a number of subjects. Senator Slom voted in favor of all of them except for HB 848 HD2 SD1, which is an “Obamacare” bill on health insurance. The Hawaii Primary Care Association testified that in the first draft of the bill, “small employers were listed as those having 100 employees or less. Under the most recent House Draft, that number was lowered to 50, a figure that does not coincide with federal requirements under the Affordable Care Act…”
The 50 employee figure is still retained in the Senate draft. The bill will go to conference committee.
March 25 – Floor Action, Session Day #38
Ten World War II soldiers from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were recognized by the Hawaii State Senate on March 25 during the regular floor session held in the Senate Chamber. The group of combat veterans accepted a framed certificate on the commemoration of the regiment’s 70th Anniversary. Photo by the Hawaii Senate Majority office.
The Senate also confirmed 2 individuals:
GM 667 – Curtis Saiki to the Board of Taxation Review, 1st District
GM 702 – Jose Diogo to the Board of Taxation Review, 4th District
The Senate also passed HB 776 HD2 SD1 (Government Tort Liability) on a floor amendment motion that was approved at the previous session (Day #37). The vote was unanimous at 22 – 0 with Senator Slom voting with the majority.