(BIVN) – Hawaii Governor David Ige recently executed his planned veto of several bills passed through the state legislature this session, but one bill that he allowed to become law without his signature could impact Hilo.
Nearly all the bills that intended to address issues with state leases in the East Hawaii area – in particular, Banyan Drive and the Kanoelehua Industrial Area – failed to make it through the legislature this year.
One bill that did, House Bill 575, “establishes a process for the re-leasing or renegotiation of a lease for public lands classified as commercial or industrial use near the end of the life of the lease.” The bill also “permits DLNR to extend public land leases to school or government entities without recourse to auction, with certain exceptions.”
Governor David Ige had HB 575 on his intent to veto list. The governor said “there is concern that section 2 of this bill is special legislation and is in violation of Section 5 of Article XI of the Hawai‘i State Constitution. It limits application of the bill to commercial and industrial lands only, without distinguishing these lands from other public lands under lease.”
However, the governor had a change of heart.
“One bill that I will be allowing to become law is House Bill 575 relating to public lands,” Governor Ige announced at a press conference held July 11. “It has been a big issue on Hawaii Island and although I believe that there are legal issues with the measure, I decided to allow it to become law without my signature.”
“I know that it is a complex challenging issue,” Ige said. “We’ll continue to work with the lessees and the department to implement this law,” he stated.
Ige said the testimony of the attorney general “had identified the constitutional concern about single purpose legislation” and there was concern the state “needed to provide more justification for taking action with the specific lands, and not having it applied to all leases.”
“We will see how that proceeds forward,” Ige said at the press conference.
The bill specifically states it will not impact the general lease of Mauna Kea, currently held by the University of Hawaii. “The authority established pursuant to this section to extend a lease shall not apply to any lease to the University of Hawaii of lands within a conservation district of which the University of Hawaii has subleased a portion for the purpose of constructing an astronomical observatory,” the bill states.