Legislative Rebuff

It appears that every single bill attempting to address Mauna Kea issues is dead, at least for the 2019 session.

The moon rising in partial eclipse over the mauna shadow
The moon rising in partial eclipse over the mauna shadow

March first is a deadline referred to as ‘first decking’ in local legislative lingo. This is the date by which the bill must be in final form to allow review before the final votes. No vote, no crossover, being passed to the opposite chamber, house or senate.

Most of the bills did not even get a single committee hearing. Without these hearings the bill is effectively dead.

  • HB1067 Prohibits any development on conservation lands of the Mauna Kea summit at 6,000 feet above sea level and higher. No hearing scheduled.
  • SB905 Requires the lessor of a master lease for public land to receive reasonable compensation. No hearing scheduled.
  • SB916 Requires that the board of land and natural resources make certain determinations before approving public land dispositions. Restricts the board of land and natural resources from approving the disposition of public lands under certain circumstances. No hearing scheduled.
  • SB918 Limits the term of certain public land leases, including any extensions, to no more that thirty-five years. No hearing scheduled.
  • SB933 Requires that the board of land and natural resources conduct a rent review of all leases and subleases of public land once every ten years. No hearing scheduled.
  • SB936 Removes 2/3 of the funds from the university managed Mauna Kea special fund. 1/3 to a new Hawaiian Homelands managed special fund. An additional 1/3 to a new Department of Land and Natural Resources special fund. Scheduled then deleted from the agenda at Water and Land and Hawaiian Affairs before being heard.

While I predicted that HB1067 would suffer just this fate, the wholesale refutation of any meddling in the Mauna Kea issues is surprising. This is a major defeat for Senator Kehele, who was a primary sponsor of all the senate bills on this list.

It is always possible that the language of these bills could reappear in the body of another bill, a tactic known as gut-and-replace. This procedure has been used on other bills this session, addressing other subjects. The legality of gut-and-replace is highly debated and currently subject to a lawsuit making its way through state courts.

These bills will also be automatically carried over to the 2020 legislative session as they were introduced in an odd numbered year.

I will not mourn any of these bills, from close reading it is obvious every single one was an attack on Mauna Kea astronomy. It appears that the legislature is satisfied with the current management of Mauna Kea and willing to let the court decisions stand.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

5 thoughts on “Legislative Rebuff”

  1. Andrew, SB934 passed the Ways and Means Committee on March 1st. Its now listed as SB934SD1.

    1. True… I forgot to remove that one from the list. I have come to the conclusion that SB934 is not targeted at Mauna Kea, but rather is designed to limit the options of the HI county solid waste department in siting a new east side landfill. Take a look at the conservation district map for the Hilo area, there are very limited land options on the east side if you wish to find a new landfill site that is not a conservation district of some sort.

  2. You do realize that the reason that none of these bills introduced by Kahele, that were referred to the committee chaired by Kahele, and then not scheduled by Kahele, is purely political. I bet Kahele did not schedule these bills so to avoid any political ramifiications against his bid for congress seat.

    1. Thus playing both the protest community and not offending the business community? Interesting idea. Given what I have seen about him, totally possible.

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