This week, the Hawaiʻi legislature made a momentous decision to pass a bill that would ban the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.
The bill, SB 3095, includes several other protections from and disclosures around pesticides that can harm children, including buffer zones around schools. The bill now heads to Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige — who can sign or veto the legislation.
A collaborative effort
The success of this bill was thanks to the tireless, collaborative work of the Protect Our Keiki coalition and community members from across the islands who organized educational events, called their legislators and shared their stories. Before passing the state House and Senate, the bill had to first pass through the Conference Committee — which it did unopposed after hundreds of people delivered written and spoken testimony about their experiences with pesticides and drift in their communities.
PAN Organizing and Policy Fellow Leslee Matthews was organizing on the ground at the Capitol throughout the process:
People across Hawaiʻi celebrated a victory and dealt a blow to pesticide corporations yesterday with the passage of SB 3095. Since colonization, people on Hawaiʻi have fought for a food system that respects the health of families, communities and the environment. When the Governor signs this law, our keiki will be better protected from the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos, and the state can better monitor activities of pesticide corporations on the islands.”
Stronger protections for kids
The phaseout of chlorpyrifos that this bill calls for is unprecedented.
After the Trump Administration reversed course on a national planned ban of the neurotoxic pesticide, Hawaiʻi would be the first state to successfully pass legislation at the state level. Meanwhile, California regulators are deliberating a ban, and a bill was recently introduced in New Jersey. The momentum continues.
Buffer zones around schools and mandatory disclosure requirements for users of restricted use pesticides would provide long-awaited protections for children in Hawaiʻi. However, there is work to be done. The school buffer zones laid out in the bill measure only 100 feet. Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety notes that they will continue building from this bill’s precedent to expand these modest no-spray zones.
Now, for SB 3095, it’s on to the Governor’s desk for signing into law!