Almost Orwellian in its doublespeak deception, Maui Senator Roz Baker’s latest campaign ad promotes her as a champion of ‘aina protection. “From protecting our reefs from harmful sunscreens to creating pesticide free zones around our schools, Roz fights from the heart to save the ‘aina,” it reads.
The truth? While she has taken credit for helping pass the recent SB 3095 bill which bans neurotoxic chlorpyrifos, Baker has actively derailed pesticide regulation and environmental protection.
“Roz Baker has been the single biggest roadblock in passing any pesticide legislation,” reported Maui based activist Autumn Ness with the Hawai’i Center for Food Safety. “She knew if it (SB 3095) didn’t pass her head would be on the chopping block at election time.”
Before the bill passed, Baker had worked to limit its impact. Baker tried to eliminate important pesticide notification and disclosure provisions. “It was Roz Baker who gutted the bill,” said Ness. “Senator Baker said we only deleted redundant parts of the bill (notification and disclosure) because they are already mandated, which was a lie.”
Up until this year, some senators like Baker, funded by corporate interests and major real estate developers, had blocked pesticide regulation. As former Kauai County Councilor Garry Hooser pointed out – “The driving force preventing passage of any new regulation is the corporate power and influence of the four giant chemical companies that actually make, sell and use the vast majority of chlorpyrifos in Hawaii – Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.”
At a community meeting in Kihei in 2016 that addressed concerns about Monsanto’s spraying of GMO fields in the area, Baker stated she believed most pesticide over-spraying is by homeowners, which is why she has not supported any pesticide spraying buffer and disclosure bills.
Baker has publicly stated that she has not taken money from Monsanto in a number of years. She received campaign funds from Monsanto in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. This year she received funding from Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, Pfizer and A&B.
It was Baker who tried to pass legislation (SB2393) forcing mandatory HVP vaccinations on Hawaii’s children. Even the Department of Education’s superintendent submitted testimony in opposition to the bill, which attempted to preempt parents’ rights.
According to a Judicial Corruption examination of Baker’s campaign financing records – “The Chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee sponsored a series of mandatory vaccination bills after concealing three investments in Blackrock Inc.—a company heavily invested in Pfizer/Monsanto that produces genetically-engineered vaccines.”
Among her controversial actions, Baker, “a lawmaker who has received substantial campaign donations from lobbyists and executives who represent some of those same investors,” blocked efforts to close a loophole in our state income tax law which allows Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to take their earnings out of Hawaii, tax free.
REITs are effectively exempt from state income tax. Alexander & Baldwin has been looking at converting their real estate holdings to an REIT so they can reap even higher profits developing land.
“This is just another egregious instance where Baker puts the interests of her corporate friends and campaign donors ahead of the people who have voted for her,” noted Terez Amato, who is running against Baker for the South and West Maui seat. “In a time when critical local and environmental agencies are facing massive cuts at the hand of the federal administration’s corporate friendly policies, it is inexcusable to kill measures that can be used to bolster local tax revenue for Hawai’i infrastructure and governmental use that benefits the people.”
“Maui is not for sale,” Amato continues. “Hawaii does not belong to corporations. Our government must always serve the people. Together we must end the protection racket and remove corrupt politicians who are already in power.”
At a 2014 rally supporting Amato, popular Molokai community leader and activist Walter Ritte held up a poster – Maui’s Senator Roz Baker Selling Out Hawaii. “I flew all the way from Molokai to talk to her and I had to put my foot out to stop her slamming the door on me,” Ritte announced. “She won’t even listen. I wanted to talk with her about why she was killing labeling of GMOs in Hawaii. She’s been in office too long.”