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HB520: Allowing greater cottage foods sales would expand opportunities

The following testimony was presented Feb. 3, 2023, by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii to the House Committee on Economic Development.
___________

Feb. 3, 2023
10 a.m.
VIA VIDEOCONFERENCE
Conference Room 423

To: House Committee on Economic Development
      Rep. Daniel Holt, Chair
      Rep. Rachele Lamosao, Vice Chair

 From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
            Jonathan Helton, Policy Researcher

RE: HB520 — RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Comments Only

Dear Chair and Committee Members:

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on HB520, which would allow cottage food operations to sell cottage food with a permit from the state Department of Health.

We commend the Legislature for examining ways to reduce unnecessary regulation and provide new opportunities for local businesses. Expanding access to cottage food is a smart, relevant way to help small businesses and local food producers.

In the past several years, Hawaii lawmakers, farmers and the general public have taken an increased interest in local agriculture and food production. Many express the desire to make Hawaii more self-reliant and sustainable.

The state Department of Agriculture and various other state agencies have invested significant resources in Hawaii’s food-production capabilities. This bill augments those efforts by reducing red tape on selling locally produced food.

By focusing on smart regulation, HB520 could help decrease the cost of operating a cottage food establishment.

In addition, providing new opportunities for Hawaii’s residents to become entrepreneurs is exactly what we recommended in our “Road map to prosperity” report, issued in May 2020.

In that report, we focused on strategies to rebuild the state’s economy following the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Its suggestions are just as relevant today as Hawaii continues to recover and deals with rampant inflation as well.

In the report, the Grassroot Institute  emphasized the importance of implementing regulatory reforms that would help local businesses innovate, explore different products and services and reach new customers.

One of the recommendations offered was that the Legislature “remove county zoning and licensing restrictions on home-based businesses and state restrictions on cottage foods.”

It said, “The simplest approach would be to enact statewide legislation that protects home-based businesses that are compatible with residential use, secondary to residential use, and do not adversely impact the community.”

This measure would further that goal and provide Hawaii families with new potential income streams that would contribute to the local economy and a more sustainable, diversified future.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Jonathan Helton
Policy Researcher
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

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