(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi House and Senate on Tuesday voted to approve a final version of a bill that will transition the management of Maunakea from the University of Hawaiʻi to a soon-to-be established Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority.
Last week, a conference committee agreed to a final draft of House Bill 2024, which is now described:
Establishes the Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority as the sole authority for the management of Mauna Kea lands. Requires the Authority to manage land uses; human activities, other uses, and access; stewardship; education; research; disposition; and overall operations on its respective lands. Authorizes the Authority to develop a framework to allow astronomy development on Mauna Kea. Declares astronomy as a state policy. Requires the Authority to establish advisory groups. Allows the Authority to limit certain commercial use and activities on Mauna Kea on its respective jurisdictional lands. Provides certain restrictions on leases and a moratorium on new leases. Requires the timely decommissioning of certain telescopes. Allows the Authority to require an application and fee for all recreational users of Mauna Kea. Establishes the Mauna Kea management special fund. Transfers rights, duties, and positions from the University of Hawaii to the Authority. Exempts positions under the Authority from civil service requirements. Requires an audit of the Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority. Appropriates funds. (CD1)
On final reading, the State Senate passed the bill as amended with 22 ayes (with reservations: Senators Baker, San Buenaventura, Taniguchi) and 3 noes (Senators Acasio, Inouye, Rhoads). The State House passed the same bill with Representatives Gates, Holt, Kapela, LoPresti, McKelvey, Tokioka, and Ward voting aye with reservations, and Representatives Hashem and Kobayashi voting no.
The bill will now go to Governor David Ige to be signed into law.
While a formal response from the University of Hawaiʻi is still expected, the subject of the bill was discussed during a Maunakea Management Board meeting on Tuesday evening.
“If enacted, one implication is the UH will pause all work on the preparation of our(Environmental Impact Statement) for a new master lease, as conference draft one imposes a moratorium on all new leases”, said Greg Chun, the Executive Director of Mauna Kea Stewardship. “We will also pause all discussions on the (Mauna Kea Observatories) on new subleases,” Chun added.
Chun says the Center For Maunakea Stewardship will still be requesting approval from the UH Board of Regents on an updated Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan on May 19th, as the University still has management responsibility until 2028.