KIM SUPPORTS PLDC REPEAL AS MOMENTUM FOR REPEAL GROWS; OPENING DAY RALLY AT LEGISLATURE PLANNED
(PNN) Hawai`i State Senate President designate Donna Mercado Kim says she is "currently drafting a bill to repeal the PLDC legislation and will be introducing it when the session begins ."
Kim has been seen as key to efforts to repeal Act 55 which exempts development of "state land" from environmental and local permitting laws and leaves it up to a small panel to developers.
In an email to Hawai`i Island community activist Shannon Rudolph, Kim added "I encourage you to convey your sentiments to other legislators, if you haven’t already done so."
Kim's support for repeal is thought by observers to be key in the senate after she replaced former Senate President Shan Tsutsui who was appointed Lt. Governor after former LG Brian Schatz was appointed to the U.S. senate in the wake of the death of Senator Daniel Inouye.
Tsutsui had said he would introduce bills to both repeal and amend Act 55 which was passed in the 2011 legislative session in what former Senate Majority Leader and current Kaua`i Councilmember Gary Hooser has called "a manner that at best was unprincipled and at worst corrupt and illegal."
Massive state-wide opposition to the PDLC at administrative rules hearings across the state last fall has caused Governor Neil Abercrombie to back down from his confrontational position toward PLDC opponents and drop his threats of a veto of any bill repealing the PDLC.
Other PLDC supporters such as Senators Malama Solomon and Donovan Dela Cruz have been mostly silent as of late and support for repeal has spread to include State Senators Josh Green and Russell Ruderman, according to Rudolph who has been seeking to ascertain the positions of legislators on repeal.
On the state house side the presumed takeover of the speaker's post by Representative Joe Souki is seen as a plus for the repeal movement since his support in removing former speaker Calvin Say- who shepherded the PDLC legislation though in 2011- has come primarily from the so-called "dissident faction" that is said to be, for the most part, comprised of those in favor repeal.
Newly elected Representative and former Department of Land and Natural Resources Director Laura Thielen has been an outspoken opponent of the PLDC and told Rudolph "I am introducing a bill this session to repeal the PLDC, and will support any other bill that does the same." House members who favor repeal, according to Rudolph also include Representatives Nicole Lowen, Cindy Evans and Faye Hanohano.
The senate president and speaker of the house in the Hawai`i state legislature control the agenda and committee assignment of bills making their support all but essential for passage of legislation. Assignment of a bill to just one committee whose chair opposes it generally guarantees defeat for the measure.
There will be a massive "A Million Little Fists" rally for repeal of the PLDC on the opening day of the legislature on January 16, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. at the State Capitol in Honolulu.
Senators can be emailed at email@example.com while representatives can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org .
In a November article published in the Honolulu Star Advertiser and his own blog Hooser described the often sordid process used to create the PLDC writing:
SB1555, which became Act 55 and created the PLDC, was introduced in the Senate on January 26, 2011. Initially, while establishing a quasi-independent development corporation intended to maximize the development and revenue generation of public lands, SB1555 did not contain broad exemptions from land use laws. Also when first introduced the original PLDC Board included full neighbor-island representation.
As if by design, on March 18, 2011, after sailing through the Senate with only minor amendments and no controversy, the House Water, Land and Ocean Resources Committee inserted the exemption provisions and stripped away neighbor-island representation on the PLDC Board.
The only opportunity for public input in response to these critical amendments was on April 7, 2011 in the House Finance Committee. It was here that Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro with the approval of Speaker of the House Calvin Say, waived the normal 48-hour public notice rule and gave Hawaii residents only 115 minutes public notice to offer their mana’o on a measure which could dramatically accelerate the development of public lands statewide.
These two maneuvers executed quite deftly by the House, enabled the measure to reach the all important joint conference committee without incurring any serious public scrutiny. Once in “conference” where public testimony is not allowed, the final work on the establishment of the PLDC was a fait accompli.
The full legislature passed out SB1555HD2CD1 on May 5, 20111, which created the PLDC, took away “home rule” from the Counties and granted the PLDC and its private partners extraordinary powers over the development of public lands. They made the development of public lands exempt from all County zoning, planning and land use laws, gave all of the power to control this development to three appointees of the governor and took away all neighbor-island representation on the PLDC Board. Along the way, the House Finance Committee said effectively “oh by the way if you don’t like it you have 115 minutes to get down to the capitol and provide testimony – and if you live in Puna, Hana or Kekaha…too bad.”
Hooser concluded by saying:
The legislative history of the PLDC represents a shameful and incredibly arrogant attitude of entitlement by many at the legislature. The public is seen as a bothersome impediment and rules are seen as obstacles to be circumvented whenever possible.
PLDC proponents talk of the requirement to coordinate with Counties and gain approval from agencies. But they don’t talk about the pressure that will be applied should any County or agency oppose a project or resist “going along to get along”. Even now the Counties are being told to resist opposing the PLDC otherwise they risk a reduction in their Transient Accommodations Tax revenue.
In the halls of the capitol they call this leverage.
It is no wonder people are outraged and demanding a repeal.