Legislation to end moped sales dies: House committee defers bill

  • Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today A moped rides in the bike lane on Queen Kaahumanu Highway in this file photo.

A bill aimed at banning the retail sale of combustion-engine-powered mopeds has effectively died in the Hawaii State Legislature.

House Bill 801, introduced by a host of state representatives including Big Island Reps. Nicole Lowen (D-North Kona), Jeanne Kapela (D-South Kona, Ka‘u) and Chris Todd (D-Hilo) aimed to prohibit the retail sale of combustion engine-powered mopeds starting Jan. 1, 2023, citing noise pollution as the primary concern.

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The bill received mixed testimony in a Thursday afternoon hearing by the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. Environmental groups including Imua Alliance, Climate Protectors Coalition and Blue Planet Foundation voiced support for the bill as a means to combat climate change.

“We should take steps to accelerate Hawaii’s efforts to address climate change and develop a clean economy, including by reducing combustion-engine powered vehicles on our state’s streets,” said Kris Coffield, executive director of Imua Alliance in a statement.

Those expressing opposition included the group Retail Merchants of Hawaii and a number of moped sale and rental companies. Multiple testifiers disputed the bill’s claim that mopeds with factory mufflers were a serious problem.

“The noise-polluting mopeds that this bill is trying to get off the roads are an extremely small percentage of owners who find pleasure in modifying older mopeds,” said Nathan Bingham, owner of Hawaiian Style Rentals and Sales, noting that new mopeds sold today do not emit noise louder than the 100 decibels at half throttle allowed by current safety inspection requirements.

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Committee Chairman Oahu Democratic Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson deferred the measure near the conclusion of the hearing. He expressed agreement with the spirit of the proposal, but ultimately decided against moving the bill forward.

“I think that, as we heard in testimony, there’s just a lot of issues with this bill,” he said. “It’s well intended and I agree with the spirit of it, but I think the incredibly soon deadline for implementation is not practical for those buying or selling mopeds at the present moment.”

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