(BIVN) – Maunakea management legislation introduced in the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives is moving forward after a key vote on Wednesday.
In a joint meeting conducted virtually, three House committees – Water & Land, Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs, and Finance – voted to recommend the approval of House Bill 2024, with amendments.
According to the description of the HB 2024, the bill:
Establishes the Mauna Kea stewardship authority as the sole authority for management of state-managed lands on Mauna Kea. Requires the authority to develop a single plan that dictates the management of land uses; human activities, uses, and access; stewardship, education; research, disposition; and overall operations. Requires the authority to develop a framework to limit astronomy development on Mauna Kea. Prohibits certain commercial use and activities on Mauna Kea. Requires an application and fee for all recreational users of Mauna Kea. Establishes Mauna Kea management special fund. Repeals Mauna Kea lands management special fund. Appropriates funds.
The Water and Land Committee Chair, Rep. David Tarnas explained the ammendments to the bill, saying that the changes will:
- add information to the “findings” section provided by Pua Kanahele regarding the “Kumu Kānāwai”, a Native Hawaiian concept of environmental kinship.
- replace the name “Mauna Kea” throughout the measure with the words “Mauna a Wākea”
- adopt an Office of Hawaiian Affairs suggestion to change the participating OHA CEO to the OHA Chair of the Board of Trustees, or the chairperson’s designee
- add the president of the University of Hawaiʻi, or the UH president’s designee, as an additional member of the management board of the authority
- adopt a Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement recommendation on protection of Native Hawaiian rights, in accordance with the State Constitution
- add language concerning the restoration of the mountain to its original state “when ground-based observatories are rendered obsolete due to developments in space-based astronomical technology”
- replace the word “shall” with “may” on prohibited commercial activities, i.e. the authority “may” prohibit commercial uses and activities.
- include chapter 171 provisions on lease terms and conditions. Provisions related to selling land would not be included.
Rep. Tarnas said the committee report will note additional consideration should continue regarding adding a representative of Maunakea observatories to the management board of the authority. The appropriation amount is still blank, Tarnas noted.
Tarnas also said the new version of the bill will incorporate all four clarifying amendments recommended in the testimony of the Hawaiʻi Office of the Attorney General. From the AG testimony:
The bill states that the “authority shall be attached to the office of the chairperson of the board of land and natural resources[.]” Page 3, line 21, to page 4, line 2. This provision may violate article V, section 6, of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution, which states that “[a]ll executive and administrative offices, departments and instrumentalities of the state government and their respective powers and duties shall be allocated by law among and within the not more than twenty principal departments . . . .” To cure this defect, we recommend that this portion of the sentence be amended to state that the “authority shall be placed within the department of land and natural resources for administrative purposes.”
The bill provides that one of the members of the authority shall be “[t]he chair of land and natural resources, or the chairperson’s designee.” Page 4, lines 7-8. For purposes of clarity and consistency, and to address possible confusion over which chairperson is intended, e.g., the chairperson of the BLNR or the chairperson of the authority, we suggest this sentence be replaced with “The chairperson of the board of land and natural resources, or this chairperson’s designee.”
The bill states that the “authority shall hold title to the lands situated on Mauna Kea as identified in section -7[,]” page 9, lines 16-18, yet it does not provide a mechanism for the transfer of the land title from the Department of Land and Natural Resources to the authority. We recommend the following proposed wording to be inserted into section -8, at page 16, line 11, as a means to accomplish the transfer of lands to the authority: “The department of land and natural resources shall transfer to the authority the title to the lands described in section -7(a), together with all existing encumbrances.”
Lastly, the bill allows the authority to “[r]enegotiate lease terms and fees” in order to “[c]onsider various supplemental revenue sources[.]” The rental amount being paid by the University of Hawaii under the existing lease may not be renegotiable, as there are no lease terms that allow for renegotiation of the rental amount at this time. We propose amending section -4(b)(9), page 13, lines 19-20, to state: “including but not limited to, to the extent allowed by law: . . . .”
The bill will next go before the full House for a vote.
by Big Island Video News
HONOLULU, Hawaiʻi - During a joint committee meeting, state representatives voted to recommend the approval of House Bill 2024, with amendments.