Questions & Issues
Addressed by Rep DeCoite
What do you think of the state and county response to COVID-19? Is there anything you would have done differently?
I advocated for shutting down of non-essential/non-resident travel to East Maui, Molokai and Lanai early on with letters to the Governor on March 12th, March 17th and on March 21st.I was also able to talk directly with the Governor and General Hara about the inter-island quarantine to express community concerns and give input on the travel/quarantine requirements
During this pandemic, I worked with all levels of government, including our congressional delegation to get the proper information and services to my constituents.
I would have liked to see better coordination between the County (Maui) and the State early on.I feel that communication is better now, not perfect, but better.
COVID has shown our island’s reliance on tourism. Do you think we should diversify the economy? How and in what industries?
Yes, we should have diversified before all of this happened, but now our feet are to the fire.We need to look to Agriculture, look to see what can be grown here and use the expertise that is already here to train and educate new farmers and our work force.
The Agriculture community and HTA can then work together on each island plan to have quality tourism.
We also need to look at promoting the high paid trade jobs and promote job training to help our local residents qualify for these jobs.
Please describe the difference between a minimum wage and living wage. Would you support an increase in the minimum wage and why?
A minimum wage is a starting point for entry level workers. Workers should start at that wage and then once they prove themselves, they should be moved up to higher pay.
Living wage is what a worker needs to make their basic needs, electric, mortgage, food.
The problem is that the minimum wage instead being the starting point- it is now considered standard pay. This mentality needs to change.
I support promoting a living wage for those workers that prove themselves. If the state helps with contributing to medical coverage, employers should be able to pay better wages to those workers that are deserving
What is your vision for the future of Agriculture in Hawaii?
I would like to see us put Agriculture first and build a base foundation with Agri-tourism.We need to limit the number of people coming into the state and prioritize our resources.We then promote agritourism like the Azores in Portugal – if you build it they will come.We can have better control as to how it is all done.
While we re-prioritize agriculture, we need to be better about protecting and managing our water supply. If any farm/agriculture operation needs water, they need have a clear farm plan to justify the use and amount of water requested.
What is your stance on GMOs?
I support all types of agriculture.
Do you farm GMO sweet potato?
What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs? What have you done to address these issues?
We need to stop building next to the ocean and move future improvements of schools and infrastructure away from areas that have sea level rise. This has been a priority of mine for a while. I have worked with DLNR to hold public meetings in Molokai on regarding “Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation”. We have been working to raise awareness and prepare our communities. I have also been a long supporter of protecting our reefs. I introduced legislation on the effects of oxybenzone in 2016 (and 2017 and 2018) and since this have introduced legislation about protecting our reefs from runoff as well as to help control invasive species
RE: East Maui Water
I believe the management of East Maui water needs to be in complete alignment with our Public Trust Doctrine. I firmly believe that we should not divert water from one ahupua’a to another.
In my time at the legislature I have worked I worked with East Maui Taro Farmers to ensure the return of water to East Maui Streams.I was one of the only Maui legislators to vote against the revocable water permit bills that would have affected East Maui thisand I also worked with the Sierra Club to introduce legislation to protect our water from diversions (HB 1573 - 2019).
I also secured $4.5 million in CIPs fund for plan, design and construction for irrigation systems and water delivery systems in East Maui and worked with DOA to hold the public meetings/planning sessions so the East Maui Community could have direct input in the plans.
What specific actions have you taken to support public education in Hawai’i?
Over the past 5 years I have introduced legislation to address the student weighted formula
for our rural schools.
I have also introduced legislation and secured funding for athletics/athletic travel for Hana,
Molokai and Lanai schools.
I also have made sure that the infrastructure needs of District 13 schools are address by
securing CIP funding for each schools needs.
As a member of the LHE committee the last 2 years I have had a front seat view and first
look at the types of education policies that are being recommended. It has given me a
better understanding of education needs and the demands on teachers When there is
something I need more information about or want to know how it will affect our school sites
and classrooms I call the principals and teachers in my district to check with them and get their opinions.
During the COVID-19 Crisis, I made sure to check in with each school site to make sure
things were running as smoothly as possible and to make sure the resources for students
and teachers were accessible.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
I support STEM technology, learning and jobs for our local residents. I have not made comments on TMT because that is not my District, my district is East Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe and Molokini. I do feel that if TMT is to be built that the other telescopes need to come down first. I respect the Legislators, County Leaders and community members on the Big Island and will support the decisions they make for their island community.