Kauai council approves more money to appeal ruling on genetically modified crop, pesticide law

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LIHUE, Hawaii — The Kauai County Council has approved additional funding to appeal a court ruling saying state law pre-empts a county law regulating pesticides and genetically modified crops.

The council voted 5-1 Wednesday to approve the county attorney's request for additional money, The Garden Island newspaper (http://bit.ly/YVXcbl) reported.

The Honolulu law firm representing the county, McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon, has offered to waive future legal fees beyond the $210,000 previously authorized.

That means the county would pay no more than $12,750 for an appeal even if the case were to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Attorney David Minkin said the ordinance is something his firm wants to continue to support and defend, and that the appeal is a winnable battle.

"At the end of the day, we do not believe that the ordinance is pre-empted by the current statutes on books with the state of Hawaii, and the court held otherwise," he said. "We believe, very strongly, that the court got it wrong."

Councilman Gary Hooser, who introduced the ordinance, said the firm's offer was "generous" and shouldn't be turned down.

Councilman Ross Kagawa cast the lone dissenting vote. He said his stance from the beginning was that the measure had "significant legal problems."

The law was passed after the council overrode a veto from Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in November. The law requires large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops, as well as establish buffer zones around sensitive areas, including schools and hospitals.

Major companies growing genetically modified crops filed suit in federal court in January, arguing the county violated the U.S. and Hawaii constitutions, multiple federal and state laws and the Kauai County Charter in passing the bill.


Information from: The Garden Island, http://thegardenisland.com/

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