(BIVN) – Minor amendments were inserted into two controversial bills related to Mauna Kea during a floor session of the Hawaiʻi State Senate on Tuesday, setting them up for a final vote in the same chamber on Thursday.
Both bills originally dealt with other issues, but were gutted and replaced in recent weeks, to replace similar bills that stalled in the House.
The description of HB1585 HD1 SD3 reads:
Requires the Auditor to conduct a financial, performance, and management audit of the University of Hawaii’s activities related to Mauna Kea. Requires the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to adopt rules to regulate public and commercial activities on Mauna Kea lands. Requires the University of Hawaii Office of Maunakea Management to complete the management actions established by the various comprehensive management plans, complete an environmental impact statement for land authorizations regarding long-term continuation of astronomy within the Mauna Kea science reserve area, and secure a new master lease regarding Mauna Kea. Prohibits all new construction at Mauna Kea until the requirements of this measure are met. Takes effect on 12/31/2033. (SD3)
Astronomers have voiced strong opposition to the new bill, saying it could end their hope that the Thirty Meter Telescope will be built of the mountain.
Senator Kai Kahele said his floor amendment defects the effective date to December 31, 2033, and “will also clarify new construction to not include any construction concerning the decommissioning of an existing telescope or the repair, maintenance, and upkeep of existing telescopes on Mauna Kea.”
There were a handful of “no” votes to Kahele’s proposed amendment, mainly due to procedural concerns.
“I do not disagree with the substance of this amendment,” said Senator Donna Mercado Kim, “and I certainly appreciate the efforts from the senator from Hilo to hold the university accountable. If there’s anyone that wants to hold UH accountable, I am one of those, and I support the measures that he has been proposing. However, I also support the process that we have here in our Senate, and in our rules. Mainly, the process is to allow the public the opportunity to have a say and to testify on many of these measures, especially those that have far-reaching effects.”
Kim pointed to Senate rule 23 that she says reads, “if a bill … contains any significant or substantial amendment made by a committee other than the last Standing Committee to which a bill has been referred, it must have a public hearing.”
HB1585 was dramatically changed in committee on the day of decision making, and no public hearing was ever held on the new version.
The amendment was passed on Tuesday, however, and the bill moves to third reading in the Senate on Thursday.
Later in the floor session, HB1985 HD1 SD2 was also amended. The bill brings to life the stalled effort to create a Mauna Kea Management Authority. The description of the bill:
Establishes the Mauna Kea Management Authority and membership of the Authority. Establishes and specifies duties of the Mauna Kea candidate advisory council. Limits the number of telescopes that may be authorized on Mauna Kea. Authorizes the renegotiation of leases, subleases, easements, permits, and licenses pertaining to Mauna Kea. Requires that revenue derived from activities on Mauna Kea be shared with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, as well as used for educational and other community purposes. Excludes Mauna Kea lands from the definition of “public lands”. Provides for free access to Mauna Kea for traditional cultural purposes. Establishes police powers and provides for enforcement of laws on land under the jurisdiction of the Mauna Kea Management Authority. Appropriates funds. Takes effect on 12/31/2033. (SD2)
Again, Kahele amended the bill to change the effective date to December 31, 2033.