BY THELMA MARY DREYER – Governor Lingle today signed into law HB2688 which strengthens the state’s sanitation inspection program, including the hiring of more inspectors. The measure, now Act 176, changes the name of the “Environmental Health Education Fund” to the “Sanitation and Environmental Health Special Fund”, and allows the money in the fund to be used for sanitation programs and activities, including monitoring Hawaii’s restaurants and food establishments.
“Proper sanitation in public areas is critical to the health and safety of our population,” said Rep. Ryan Yamane, Chair of the House Committee on Health. “I’m pleased that the Governor signed this bill into law since it will allow the Department of Health to hire needed sanitation and vector control inspectors and to provide greater support to Hawaii businesses which have an impact on public health.”
The sanitation branch is charged with implementing programs related to:
- Food protection
- The regulation of barber shops, beauty parlors, massage parlors, tattoo shops,
mortuaries, public swimming pools, and public laundries;
- The inspection of tenement houses, lodging houses, and boarding houses;
- The licensing of tattoo artists and embalmers; and
- Enforcing the sanitation requirements for hospitals and medical facilities.
“Even before the infamous video of the rats in certain food vendor areas, I’ve been concerned that the number of sanitation inspectors is woefully low for the number of food establishments in Hawaii,” said Rep. Marcus Oshiro, the introducer of the bill. “It’s irresponsible to create that kind of health risk for the general public. This new law sets up a special fund that allows the sanitation branch, which brings in much of the fees through their activities, to use the money for sanitation purposes and not just for environmental health. It’s a good bill that will greatly benefit the public.”
Submitted by Thelma Mary Dreyer is the Assistant Communications Director for the Hawaii House minority