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Matters of policy, economic development, agriculture

CHAIR’S 3 MINUTES

The County Council’s first committee meeting this term is scheduled Monday at 9 a.m. in the Council Chambers. It is the Policy, Economic Development and Agriculture Committee (PEA), which I chair.

This is a nine-member committee, with all my colleagues on the council as voting members.

The PEA committee covers a wide array of issues, which includes those involving the responsibilities of two or more standing committees, and intergovernmental affairs like Monday’s bill relating to an agreement between the County of Maui and the Federal Transit Administration for the county to directly receive federal assistance funds.

This agreement is vital to the county as our public transit program can greatly benefit from FTA funds for further development and maintenance.

The committee will also consider a donation of two MorphoTrak LiveScan identification system machines from the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center for the Molokai and Lanai police stations. These machines will be able to capture entire palm print images, including the upper palm portion, which the older machines were unable to do. The total value of the donation is $59,172.76.

Review of certain departmental operations is also included in this committee’s duties. The committee reviews the Emergency Management Agency, Department of Fire and Public Safety, Department of Liquor Control, Department of Management, Office of the Mayor, Office of the County Clerk and Office of Council Services. The federally mandated Maui Metropolitan Organization is also under PEA’s jurisdiction.

Appointments of select executive branch officials, including board and commission members, are vetted in PEA. There are current vacancies on the Kula Agricultural Park Committee, Animal Control Board and Commission on Children and Youth. The mayor is scheduled to submit his list of nominations to all 27 boards and commissions by the end of January.

If you have knowledge you feel would benefit the board and are interested in serving, I encourage you to obtain an application form from mauicounty.gov/boards. Volunteering for county boards is a great way to serve and make a difference in our community.

I personally served on the Charter Commission in 2012 and value the experience to this day.

Other county policy issues referred to PEA from the last council term include items relating to county purchasing cards, or pCards; cybersecurity; smoking prohibitions; and the mayor’s homelessness bills.

This year, I will be discussing legislation on open data and exploring ways to further make it convenient for constituents to access public information.

For years now, this has been a benchmark in other jurisdictions nationally, and the county has the talent and capacity to implement something similar. We need to have political determination and champions in the community to make it happen.

In addition, I look forward to discussing economic development opportunities in my committee, particularly on the issue of agricultural tourism.

Economic development and agriculture are topics I consider close to my heart. Having formerly worked in and with the Office of Economic Development, I’m eager to set in motion ideas that can help our community thrive in light of the closure of several long-standing companies like Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar and Makena Beach & Golf Resort.

Review Monday’s agenda on mauicounty.us/agendas and submit testimony to pea.committee@mauicounty.us. If you’d like to share some ideas with me, my email is yukilei.sugimura@mauicounty.us.

Mahalo.

* Yuki Lei Sugimura is chair of the Policy, Economic Development and Agriculture Committee. She holds the council seat for the Upcountry 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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