Policies need to make sense for the community

CHAIR'S 3 MINUTES

Last week, the Maui County Liquor Control Commission rightfully corrected a rule that the Department of Liquor Control began enforcing in May requiring all nonprofit board members and officers to submit background checks, fingerprints and Social Security numbers for single-event liquor license applications.

The rule added an additional level of burden to many nonprofits that raise private funds to sustain their programs by hosting special events, but there was no justifiable reason for its implementation.

I applaud members of the community, along with Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura, who shared with the commission the real-world impacts of this particular rule, and previously concerns with the potential impacts of 24-hour liquor sales, home delivery of alcohol and the removal of the cap on hostess bars.

Although nonprofit single-event liquor license applications no longer require background checks and fingerprints, other single-event and long-term licenses still maintain this requirement. The problem, however, is with establishments that have off-island owners.

Board members and officers of larger entities often reside on the Mainland or even in a different country, but are still required to provide a background check and fingerprints. These boards and officers likely have very little day-to-day oversight of serving liquor. Yet, on-island managers operating the actual liquor-serving establishment are not required to submit information on their background. How does this serve the community?

I agree with Mayor Alan Arakawa’s recent comments that the Department of Liquor Control must return to “common-sense rules.”

The burden of oversight in ensuring this happens falls on the liquor commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council. I urge the mayor to fully vet candidates before their appointment and I am confident the council will continue to exercise its oversight duties to ensure balanced and practical individuals oversee Maui County’s liquor rules.

Aside from this matter, another concern brought up by the community on its practicality is the new $3 fee for residential refuse hauling at the Central Maui Landfill. Residents have questioned whether the new fee is now causing additional litter throughout the county and whether appropriate cash-handling procedures are being implemented.

Since the fee collection started on July 1, it is important for the council to hear from the Department of Environmental Management to understand how this is impacting operations. The matter was referred to the Budget and Finance Committee for further discussion this past Friday.

Earlier in the week, the Policy, Economic Development, and Agriculture Committee began to vet a proposal that will better protect the health and safety of children by prohibiting smoking in vehicles when a minor is present.

If passed, Maui County would join Hawaii and Kauai counties, which approved similar measures, and the City and County of Honolulu, which is currently considering similar legislation.

The PEA Committee deferred the matter pending further discussion regarding implementation and enforcement of the prohibition. According to police representatives, citations could be issued when a violation occurs in plain sight while the vehicle is moving or while stationary.

These are just a few of the many proposals being reviewed by the council and other county entities. As legislation and policies are vetted and reviewed, I believe it is important for any proposal to make sense for the community and have a clear purpose and benefit. Setting policy can sometimes get complicated, but in the end, it must help our community move forward, not backward.

Finally, just a reminder, the Planning Committee will head to Kaunakakai on Tuesday to continue reviewing the Molokai Community Plan starting at 4 p.m. at the Mitchell Pauole Center. Public testimony will be accepted.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is chairman of the Maui County Council. He holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.

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