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Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar
Yesterday we reported on the legislative trials and tribulations that the Abercrombie administration is experiencing, as the governor works to get the statehouse to accept certain initiatives in his New Day in Hawaii plan.
Governor Neil Abercrombie delivered the keynote address at the Democrat Convention in Kona on Saturday, where he tried to rally his political party to support his ideas.
Two of the governor’s faithful allies on the Big Island – and in the legislature – Senator Malama Solomon and Senator Gil Kahele – spoke to Big Island Video News about the governor’s plan.
“We are both aboard,” said District 2 Senator Kahele, serving the areas of Hilo, Puna, and Ka’u. “We are going to do all we can as senators and as representatives, to do all the things that we want to do and follow that direction and make things happen.”
Despite his disappointment in the recently concluded legislative session, Abercrombie still signed some important bills into law.
Abercrombie was particularly proud of two senate bills that help identify land ownership and build partnerships to maintain state lands.
“I believe,” said the governor, holding a printed copy of his action plan high “that Senate bill number 2 is the key to moving the New Day in Hawaii forward.”
Malama Solomon introduced the Senate Bill 2, now known as Act 54. The bill will be used for the inventory and maintenance of information relating to the public lands trust, also known as ceded lands, and other state lands.
“We have 1.7 million acres of public lands that belong to the people of this great state,” said Sen. Solomon, “and 700,000 of them are located on the Island of Hawaii.”
The governor also signed Senate Bill 1555 into law, introduced by Senator Donovan Dela Cruz.
The measure establishes the Public Land Development Corporation which will serve as an arm of the DLNR.
The legislation was explained in this recent Hawaii Senate Majority press release:
The overall purpose of the Corporation will be to generate revenues that may be used to offset the regulatory functions of DLNR. The Corporation is tasked to administer an appropriate and culturally sensitive program that will make optimal use of public lands for the economic, environmental and social benefit for the people of Hawaii. It will also identify public lands that are suitable for redevelopment, administer marketing analysis to determine the best revenue-generating programs for the public lands, enter into public-private agreements to appropriately redevelop the public lands and provide the leadership for the redevelopment, financing, improvement, or enhancement of the selected redevelopment opportunities.
“As the State faces a budget shortfall and departments such as the Department of Land and Natural Resources continues to see cuts in staff, it is imperative that we get this economy back on track,” said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who represents Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Haleiwa, Mokuleia, North Shore. “The DLNR will focus on the regulatory functions while the Public Lands Corporation will focus on the revenue generating functions,” Dela Cruz explained.
“By creating opportunities through public-private partnerships we can revitalize our state parks, redevelop our boat harbors, and create revenue generating opportunities that result into jobs. The end-game is to get the dilapidated infrastructure and underutilized land generating revenue so that no taxpayer money will be directed to supporting DLNR and the department will no longer need to rely on the general fund,” said Dela Cruz.
“I know believe,” Abercrombie announced at the Kona convention, “that I have the legislative authority to work in concert with you.”
Abercrombie already plans to put the new laws to use at Honokohau Harbor.
Fixing up the popular – and somewhat neglected – Kona boat harbor was a campaign promise made by the governor when running for the office.
Outside the convention, the governor spoke with reporters about the development corporation and how it would benefit the island.