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Coast & Ocean Legislation

The 2024 Hawaiʻi Legislative Session Runs January-May.

Every year, we fight for our ocean, waves, and beaches at the state level

May 2024 Update: The 2024 Hawaiʻi state legislative session has officially closed. We are celebrating the passage of three priority bills that are headed to the Governorʻs desk for final signatures. Get the full scoop of what went down for our coastlines via our  2024 Surfrider Legislative Wrap Up blog post. 

Over 3,000 bills are introduced each year at the state level. These bills govern everything from how tax payer money is spent to laws that help protect our ocean, waves, and beaches throughout Hawaiʻi. In addition to state-wide legislation, each of the four counties in Hawaiʻi (Kauaʻi, Maui, Hawaiʻi Island, and the City and County of Honolulu/Oʻahu) pass laws that govern action at the County level. Our local chapters on each island lead and prioritize county-level legislation, while state level legislation is a combined effort led by the Hawaiʻi Regional Manager. Stay up-to-date during the session by signing up for our weekly Hawaiʻi Policy Newsletter. Below are our 2024 priority Surfrider bills at the Hawaiʻi state level. 

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Policy Updates & Action Alerts

Clean Water

Improved Water Quality Monitoring: SB 2322

Bill Sponsor: Senator Shimabukuro

Bill will improve the Department of Healthʻs water quality monitoring program by requiring them to continue their regular testing during brown water advisories. We have been working on this bill since 2019.

Increasing Capacity for Cesspool Conversions: SB 2360/HB 1898

Bill Sponsor: Senator Gabbard

Establishes and appropriates funds for two full-time positions to implement the Cesspool Compliance Pilot Grant Project established by Act 153, SLH 2022, and makes an appropriation for the project for FY 2024-2025.

Supporting Cesspool Conversions & County Wastewater Plans: HB 2743/SB 2952

Bill Sponsor: Senator Kouchi

Requires county wastewater plans and authorizing counties to charge cesspool fees to fund grants and loans for conversions. 

Coastal Preservation

Prohibiting Vulnerable Shoreline Development: HB 2180

Bill Sponsor: Representative Perruso 

Prohibits development in special management areas unless the development is first found to not be located in a sea level rise exposure area.


Restoration of Beach Lands: SB 2183

Bill Sponsor: Senator Inouye

Amends the definition of "beach restoration" used in laws governing the Board of Land and Natural Resources' powers to engage in beach restoration to include activities undertaken to improve eroded beaches and degraded dune systems and to remove abandoned and remnant manmade materials that pose a risk to the health of the public and ecosystem.

Statewide Adaptation Pathway: SB 2184

Bill Sponsor: Senator Inouye

Expands the authority of the state and counties to develop adaptation pathways plans to modify and relocate infrastructure away from critically threatened areas to locations outside sea levle rise and coastal flooding exposure areas. Appropriates funds. 

Green Amendment to the Hawaiʻi Constitution: SB2933

Surfrider Foundation has supported the addition of a Green Amendment to the Hawaiʻi State Constitution for the last three years. This bill proposes a constitutional amendment to ensure that the inherent and inalienable right of the people, including future generations, to clean water and air, a healthful environment and climate, healthy native ecosystems, and beaches, shall be protected and shall not be infringed.


The Visitor ʻGreen Fee' Bill

Of all the bills, the Visitor Green Fee bill (SB 304) made it the closest to the finish line. It died in the literal final hours of conference committee (where the Senate and House come together to discuss parts of the bills they didn't agree on). This was a very surprising and last minute turn of events. Just goes to show that you can never celebrate the passage of a bill until is signed by the governor. That being said, the Visitor Green Fee bill is not going to be pushed at the legislature in 2024. Instead, we are supporting a variety of bills that support funding for conservation efforts. As the new tagline goes "Every dollar for conservation is a good dollar." These include: