(BIVN) – A bill that will transition the responsibility of managing the summit area of Maunakea from the University of Hawaiʻi to a new Stewardship and Oversight Authority will not be blocked by the Governor.
Governor David Ige said during a news conference on Monday that he does not plan to veto HB 2024, which was passed by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature during the 2022 session. Governor Ige held the news conference to discuss a list of thirty bills that he does intend to veto before a July 12 final decision deadline.
In May, after the bill was approved by the Hawaiʻi House and Senate, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources wrote that the measure is “well-intentioned but leaves significant gaps that could result in worse management of Mauna Kea’s natural and cultural resources.” The DLNR went on to list several ways the bill creates “dangerous legal precedent, contrary to our state constitution”, such as creating “special laws for Mauna Kea separate from the State’s extensive legal framework for land management and natural and cultural resource management”, and containing “no provision for Conservation District regulation to continue.”
“There are some concerns that our agencies have concerning House Bill 2024,” Governor Ige said, answering a question from the Associated Press about the fate of the bill. “I did have an opportunity to speak with legislators and advocates of House Bill 2024, and understand that they believe a new authority should take responsibility for the management of Maunakea.”
From the description of HB 2024, the bill:
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)
This past Friday, Governor Ige assisted the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce in honoring the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship for its efforts. The UH-Hilo CMS was bestowed with the 2022 Pūalu Award for Community Education. It was the third Pūalu award UH Hilo has received for its stewardship of Maunakea.
“I would like to point out that I do believe the University has done a good job of managing Maunakea, but I do recognize that there are some in the community that believe that its time for someone else to hold the master lease,” the Governor said on Monday. “Iʻve spoken with all the agencies to identify the areas of concern. This is not a perfect solution and there are significant issues that the Authority would need to address in order to be successful.”
“I do look forward to working with the legislature in identifying and appointing the best members of our community that are committed to supporting astronomy on Maunakea, and supporting moving forward in the best way to manage Maunakea,” the Governor said.
“Certainly, we would be looking to identify those individuals and appoint them to the board of the Authority, so that we can move forward in a new management structure,” Gov. Ige added.