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Efforts to Privatize Wastewater Treatment Facilities Averted

March 10, 2021

HGEA continues to fight against privatization of state and county services — your jobs. A bill to privatize county wastewater treatment facilities in Hawaii, which HGEA strongly opposed, has died this legislative session. The legislation would have allowed county governments to privatize one or more of their wastewater treatment facilities to a private entity or its wholly owned nonprofit management entity. Thank you to Senator Karl Rhoads, chair of the Judiciary Committee, for his support of public workers.

In written testimony, HGEA stated that the bill "is a repeat of the privatization of the Maui Region of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation and clearly follows an identical playbook, but with worse consequence as wastewater treatment facilities are critical utilities that all residents depend upon daily. As written, this measure establishes the framework for any county to transfer the right and responsibility to operate and manage any wastewater treatment and resource recovery services to a private entity, without public notice, input, or consent."

While we support utilizing new technologies to improve infrastructure, we believe counties can incorporate these new emerging resource technologies into their municipal systems without relinquishing total control of their operations. In states that have tried privatization, they have seen costs escalate and services decline. Privatizing services performed by government employees disregards employees' collective bargaining rights and their job security. Public employees and our public workforce are more than capable of adapting to and working with new technologies to deliver critical utility services. We believe public utilities should remain in the public domain for transparency and accountability.

Every year at the Hawaii Legislature bills are introduced to privatize public worker jobs. HGEA closely monitors hundreds of bills and will continue to fight for public workers and services and fight against privatization of your jobs.

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