A bill to establish a state surfing commission — SB3164 — passed the Senate Economic Development, Environment, and Technology Committee after a public hearing Monday afternoon.
Introduced Jan. 23 by Sen. Glenn Wakai, SB3164 envisions the same structure and intent — to promote Hawaii as the epicenter of surfing — as its predecessor SB 1459, which was passed by the Legislature last session but vetoed by Gov. David Ige.
Ige rejected the previous bill because it would place the commission within the state Department of Accounting and General Services; the new bill would site the commission within the Hawaii Tourism Authority of the state Dept. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
“I found a partner, HTA, that’s willing and exciting to take on the responsibility of administering this surf commission,” Wakai said.
As momentum builds to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, where surfing will make its debut as an event with Hawaii surfers Carissa Moore and John John Florence on the four-member U.S. team, a state surf commission makes sense, said Chris Tatum, president and CEO of HTA.
“(HTA has) already put $100,000 towards promoting Hawaii as the birthplace of surfing and connecting it with the Olympics in a partnership with World Surf League,” Tatum said.
In related news, the Honolulu City Council on Jan. 29 passed Resolution 20-12, which requests the City Department of Parks and Recreation to make permitting for North Shore surf contests at city beach parks conditional upon inclusion of a women’s division.
Women’s pro surfing currently has only one Hawaii contest, at Maui’s Honolua Bay, and none on Oahu’s North Shore, while the men have contests at Haleiwa, Sunset Beach and Pipeline, where the Volcom Pipe Pro was held last week.
The Senate surf commission bill, which will next be heard by the Ways and Means Committee, can be read at legiscan.com/HI/bill/SB3164/2020.