(BIVN) – After stalling in the House, the Senate’s Mauna Kea Management Authority bill has been resurrected through a gut and replace of HB1985, now Senate Draft 1.
House Bill 1985 previously related to public lands, and would have required “the Board of Land and Natural Resources to provide an annual report to the Legislature with information regarding the value, current zoning, and status of resource value public lands held by the Department of Natural Land and Resources.”
That version of the bill is now gone, replaced with an altered version of the controversial Senate Bill 3090, which proposed to take the management of Mauna Kea and its astronomy precinct out of the hands of the University of Hawaii and the Board of Land and Natural Resources and hand it over to a new Mauna Kea Management Authority. SB 3090 has been in limbo ever since it passed the Senate, held at the House Finance Committee without any scheduled hearings.
The revived legislation to create a new management authority has undergone additional changes.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has already analyzed the differences in the new bill, HB1985, as compared with draft 2 of SB3090. OHA previously supported the effort.
The new bill, OHA says, “would create a commitment to reduce the number of astronomical structures and restrict Mauna Kea’s development footprint. Furthermore, it sets and reduces the maximum number of telescopes that are allowed on Mauna Kea.”
The bill specifically:
- Limits the number of telescopes to not more than 13 at any time. § ‐32 [p 59].
- Limits the number of telescopes to no more than 9 telescopes by January 1, 2028. § ‐32 [p 59].
- Caps the total combined footprint to not exceed the total developed as of December 31, 2031. § ‐33 [p 59].
OHA also noted that under the new bill, the board members of the proposed Mauna Kea Management Authority will not be paid to serve.
According to OHA’s white paper, HB1985 PROPOSED SD1 would require:
- All members to be residents of the county of Hawai‘i;
- Five of the nine members to be native Hawaiian;
- All members to be appointed from lists of qualified candidates — two cultural seats must come from a list of three qualified nominees submitted to the governor by OHA trustees, seven other seats must come from a list of three qualified nominees submitted to the governor by a newly established candidate advisory council;
- Two members must be a practitioner or lineal descendant of practitioners of Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices associated with Mauna Kea;
- One member must have expertise in Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices;
- One member to be an education specialist with expertise in either early, secondary, or post‐secondary education;
- One member to be have expertise in environmental sciences relevant to the natural resources and ecological attributes of Mauna Kea;
- Two members must be a business expert with expertise in accounting, finance, economics, and innovation;
- One member to be a land management expert;
- One member to be an astronomy expert not currently employed at an astronomy facility or the University of Hawai‘i’s institute for astronomy;
- The board to elect its own chairperson and vice chairperson from among its members; and
- Members of the board shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for travel and expenses necessary for the performance of their duties.
The new bill delves into the MK Candidate Advisory Council (CAC) that will supply nominees for seven of the nine seats, to be appointed by the governor.
“Similar to how names are selected to serve on the Board of Regents,” OHA wrote, “HB1985 PROPOSED SD1 establishes the MK CAC to identify, evaluate, and recommend qualified candidates to serve on the MKMA. It is similar to the UH Board of Regents candidate advisory council in that both are stakeholder and constituent‐based and both have members with diverse interests related to the subject matter.”
The MK CAC would “recruit, evaluate, and present qualified candidates for nomination to the governor”. The CAC shall consist of eleven voting members:
- The representative of the island of Hawaiʻi on OHA’s board of trustees;
- A member on the Hawaiian homes commission who represents the island of Hawaiʻi;
- The department chair of UHH’s astronomy program;
- The executive director of the ʻImiloa astronomy center;
- The aha moku advisory committee Hawaiʻi island committee member;
- A representative from the royal order of Kamehameha I, Moku o Mamalahoa Heiau;
- The president of the Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of commerce or designee;
- The president of the Sierra Club Hawaiʻi island chapter or designee;
- A representative from the Mauna Kea observatories;
- The president of the Hawaiʻi Island Contractors Association or designee; and
- A representative from the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation.
“Members of the CAC shall serve a term of four years,” the OHA paper notes, “the member of the Hawaiian homes commission who represents east Hawai‘i or west Hawai‘i shall serve two years.”
The bill’s approach to public access on Mauna Kea is tweaked as well, allowing locals to access for free, but requiring non‐residents and commercial tour operators to register and pay a fee at Hale Pōhaku.
OHA says “the measure anticipates a substantial reduction in traffic, particularly vehicular traffic”:
- Although traditional and customary practitioners can access the summit in four‐wheel‐drive private vehicles, all others, including local residents, must access the summit via a shuttle. § ‐34 [p 60].
- Locals can access for free.
- Visitors must register at the visitor center and receive an orientation regarding safety, environmental protection, and cultural traditions and sensitivities. § ‐39 [p 64].
- HB1985 Proposed SD1 anticipates the possibility of eliminating commercial tours to the summit by January 1, 2020, and requires MKMA to conduct a comprehensive review of all existing commercial tour permits, fees, and associated environmental impacts.
The bill is already set for a hearing on April 5 before a joint meeting of the Senate Committees on Higher Education, Water and Land, and Ways and Means.