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From Marti:

This is just a quick run down on the status of some of the local legislation we are watching this session.  Tomorrow is second lateral – the day when surviving bills have to be delivered to their final committee.  The next major deadline is April 9th.

GOOD BILLS

SB 1088 – Seeks to improve enforcement of beach access for the public.  It successfully passed the House Water, Land, and Ocean Committee on Monday (Mahalo to Rep. Ito (D-Kaneohe) and Rep. Har (D-Kapolei)).  It is now on it’s way to the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. Karamatsu, D-Waipahu).  It needs a hearing by the first week of April.  Click here to demonstrate your support this important bill.

HB 1663/SB 709 – Both bills to protect taro from genetic modification are moving along nicely since cross over.  Tho, we are cautious to ensure that they are not amended to contradict the interests of taro farmers and consumers.  Click here to submit testimony in support of meaningful protections for our beloved Haloa. And, you can click here to read about the poundin’ good time had by all at the Taro Festival this year.

HRC 231 – This House Concurrent Resolution to uphold and enforce the laws that protect Mauna Kea was recently introduced by Rep. Hanohano (D-Puna).  This resolution outlines all that the State Land Board needs to do to fulfill its constitutional and statutory mandates to protect the conservation district of Mauna Kea.  Click here to add your support for this awesome reso.

BAD BILLS

HB 1174 – This bill seeks to give UH (the developer) management control over the conservation district of Mauna Kea. The Senate Committees on Higher Education and Water, Land passed this bill in a joint hearing, despite considerable solid testimony in opposition and only conditional testimony in support.  This bill now must be heard by the Ways and Means Committee.  Click here to take action and defend Mauna Kea.

HB 1741 – The bill to raid the Natural Area Reserve Fund has finally died!! Though we are concerned that this important fund to prevent invasive species could be raided through the budget bill.  So, stay close to hear the call to action on that front.

HB 1226 – Not only has the preemption bill died at the Capitol, it has also raised the ire of the counties who don’t appreciate some state representatives offering to just give away county authority to regulate GMO-agriculture.  Click here to read about the resolution Maui passed 9-0 against the preemption bill.

SB 1318 – This bill flipped to the good side.  The House Water, Land, and Ocean Committee deleted all the language about abolishing our coastal zone management protections and replaced with it with good language from Rep. Thielen’s pilot proposal to protect shorelines in Kailua from sea level rise with greater setbacks.

SB 1712 – The Right to Fish Bill is back in a slight muted form this session.  Unfortunately, this bill is starting to gain momentum. Stay tuned for updates on how to take action against efforts to undermine management of our fisheries and coastal areas.

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hawaii041

Today is Cross-Over Day at the State Capitol, the half-way point in the legislative process… and the day the overwhelming majority of bills are declared officially dead (until they can be resurrected next session).  Here is a run-down of the bills KAHEA is following that are still alive this session.  Click on the bill numbers to get the latest update on their status.

GOOD BILLS
SB 1088 – Improves enforcement of the public’s right to beach and mauka access by creating a citizen suit provision.  Call Rep. Sharon Har at 808-586-8500 to ask that it be heard before the House Water, Land, and Ocean Committee.

HB 1663/SB 709 – Bans the genetic modification of taro in Hawaii. (Watch these ones closely. Like last year, amendments could turn them against the interests of Haloa, taro farmers, and taro consumers).

SB 701 – Establishes a moratorium on the siting of landfills along the Leeward Coast.  This is an important bill to help protect the public health of Waianae Coast residents, unfortunately it has a lot of hearings to get through. Call Rep. Rita Cabanilla at 808-586-6080 to express your support.

SB 86 – Establishes the Makua Valley Reserve Commission to allow for community involvement in the management of Makua Valley.  This bill also has a lot of hoops to get through.  Call Rep. Ito at 808-586-8470 to advocate for its first hearing.

SB 1199 – Designates certain state waters surrounding the island of Molokai as the Molokai Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area.  Protecting the health of the shoreline is critical to Molokai’s economy welfare, unfortunately commercial fishers and aquarium collectors want to continue to take from these coffers.  Call Rep. Calvin Say at 808-586-6100 to ensure this bill gets referred to the Water, Land, and Ocean Committee.

BAD BILLS
HB 1174 – Transfers management of the sacred summit of Mauna Kea to the lease-holder/developer, the University of Hawaii.   Public opposition successfully defeated three similar bills earlier this session.  Call Sen. Jill Tokuda at 808-587-7215 to urge this bill not be heard.  Check out our previous posts to learn way this bill is the best way to undermine protections for Mauna Kea.

HB 1226 – Allows federal preemption of all state and local regulations on genetic modification (except taro).  Labelled the Worst Idea of 2009… hopefully it won’t go any farther.

SB 1108 – Extends the effective date of the Aha Kiole Advisory Committee.  Having a community-based system for managing our fragile resources is exactly what Hawaii needs, but without adding any additional safeguards to this existing system means it could be misused again the way WESPAC did last year.

HB 640 – Exempts certain developments affecting public rights-of-way (like trails) from completing an environmental impact statement.  This totally undermines one of the few opportunities for public oversight of construction in Hawaii.  Call Sen. Mike Gabbard at 808-586-6830 to ask it not be heard in the Environment Committee.

SB 1311 – Exempts the University’s Institute of Marine Biology from all permitting requirements for all activities in Kaneohe Bay.  Our nearshore waters are our most valuable resource and the research being conducted in them should meet the highest standards of the precautionary principle to ensure that no harm comes to them.  Help stop this bill by calling Rep. Calvin Say at 808-586-6100 to ask that it not be heard in the House.

HB 1741 – Raids the Natural Area Reserve System fund to make up for part of the budget shortfall.  While the money in this fund is crucial to protecting Hawaii from invasive species, there isn’t nearly enough to make a dent in the budget shortfall.  Instead, the state should make the foreign telescope owners on Mauna Kea pay rent for use of state lands… like the law requires.

HB 1712 – This is the same “Right to Fish” bill from years passed that paralyzes the DLNR from taking any management actions to protect Hawaii’s marine resources.  If we are really interested in protecting our environment, then the goal should be to give DLNR more tools, not less, to do the job and be held accountable.

Mark your calendars: the next major deadline for these bills is April 9th.

If you want to stay involved, you can sign up for KAHEA’s action alert network by clicking here.  You can also get hearing notices on any bill you are concerned about by clicking here.  On Oahu, some hearings are aired live on “Capitol TV,” Olelo channel 53.

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From Marti:Testimony from 900 people in opposition to the University's plans for Mauna Kea

The bill to transfer management of the sacred summit of Mauna Kea to the University of Hawaii passed the state’s House Finance Committee on Tuesday. By the Committee’s own count, 900 people submitted testimony in opposition to the 10 or so in support.  This number is not counting the testimony submitted by a dozen Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) scholars who signed a joint letter in opposition to the bill, as well as testimony from the Hawaii Sierra Club, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, and several individual Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners detailing the history of destruction and desecration from the University’s 40 years of telescope construction on the summit.

This bill is extremely dangerous for the future of our sacred summit and all of our conservation lands.  It gives the University – the developer of the summit – control over what happens to the natural and cultural resources of the conservation district that currently protects the entire summit of the mountain, setting a terrible precedent for delegating the state’s conservation responsibilities to developers.

The bill would also allow the University to establish its own private police force on the summit.  These “rangers” do not have the same level of training or authority as the state resource enforcement officers who currently have jurisdiction over the summit.  In fact, these “rangers” themselves have engaged in desecration of cultural sites, interfered with spiritual and religious practice on the summit, and endangered unique, fragile natural resources.

In addition, the bill would allow the University to pocket state money with no oversight by establishing a special fund.  For 40 years, the University has facilitated the theft of state money by foreign telescope owners who construct massive telescope facilities (and all of the gift shops, parking lots, and other support structures that go with them) on state land without paying rent to the state.  In addition, millions in profits is made from the sale of patented information developed on the summit.  Instead of offering to pay some of this back-rent (to help the state avoid drastic budget cuts), the University is proposing to legitimatize this history of theft by establishing a special fund into which revenue from the summit is deposited and from which only the University can withdrawal.

The bill will now move to the state Senate for additional committee hearings.  If you care for the sacred summit of Mauna Kea and the integrity of conservation management in Hawaii, then now is the time to speak up.  For 10 years, the public has asked for the same four things:

1. A legitimate management plan – This is a plan that protects the natural and cultural resources of the summit from unreasonable development. It is prepared and approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources and accepted by the community.

2. An independent management board – the current set up is a puppet of the University with members chosen and paid by the University.

3. Fair Representation – the independent management board must include Kanaka Maoli and environmental representatives that serve in a meaningful decision-making role beyond just merely “advisory.”

4. Fair Compensation – while no one, but the University, knows for sure how much profit is made off the summit, some estimates put it at $50-60 million a year.  If the telescopes paid just that for the 40 years of back-rent owed to the state, taxpayers would earn $2 billion dollars.

You can help protect Mauna Kea.  Take action now!  Click here and submit a personalized letter to Hawaii’s legislators.

To help inspire you, here are excerpts from a few that have already been sent:

“I strongly oppose the University’s plans for the future of Mauna Kea. Enough is enough. The summit lands are ecologically sensitive and culturally sacred. Expansion of astronomy’s footprint on the mountain should not be an option. If a new telescope is truly needed, dismantle an old one. Mauna Kea should be available to the akua and to the people and to the scientists– in a way that puts pono first. Pono, meaning, in righteous balance for all concerned. You are our elected and appointed representatives, charged with the responsibility to excecute the wishes of the people, the caretakers of this land– not the empowered elite. Mauna Kea Summit is a conservation area and what remains should remain kapu. Protect it.
Mahalo,
Z Johnson
Honokaa, Hawaii

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“Aloha no —
I would like to add my voice to those protesting UH’s plans for the future of Mauna Kea. I am a huge fan of the science that is done in the observatories; however, this MUST be balanced with the rights of Kanaka Ma’oli and the needs of the environment.
Mahalo,
David Edelstein
Seattle, Washington”

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“I strongly oppose the University’s plans for the future of Mauna Kea. We should learn from the flaws of past Land Board mismanagement on Mauna Kea, keep the laws that protect Mauna Kea now, and exercise management authority towards the protection and restoration of this “wahi pana”, sacred place.

Mauna Kea is ceded lands. The unrelinquished claims of the rightful beneficiaries have yet to be settled!!!

For these reasons, I urge a strong stand for Mauna Kea. Uphold the protections currently in place, and preserve what is left of Mauna Awakea for it’s sacred purpose. It is our Kuleana – our Responsibility toward Akua (Creator) and the coming generations!!!

Mahalo,
Luana Jones
Pahoa, Hawaii”

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“POP DA PIMPLES: BEFORE YOU LOOK INTO SPACE, YOU NEED TO MALAMA THIS PLACE….MAUNA A WAKEA!!!!”

Malama i ka ‘aina a me na kupuna,
Leimomi Wheeler
Kea’au, Moku Nui

—–

“Aloha,
I am a UH-Hilo alumni from 2004 and now live in my home state of Minnesota. I am deeply dismayed by the continued breach of ethics and law by the school where I earned my degree. It is embarrassing for the state of Hawaii to continue to let these institutions bulldoze their cultural heritage and environmental resources in the name of scientific advancement. Hawaii is becoming a sad cliche in management of resources and in the treatment of indigenous peoples.

Has the astronomy community not taken enough land and proven enough mismanagement of what they have already taken? Isn’t it time for Hawaii to join the modern world and learn mistakes of the past and err on the side of protection and conservation? Once these sacred places and natural resources are taken, they are gone forever. They will become a paragraph in a history book on yet another breach of trust between government and its local population.

I did my UH Environmental Impact Statement paper in college on the Mauna Kea Plan. It didn’t take a masters degree to see how many laws have been violated or skirted around. I have many fond memories of hiking on Mauna Kea and respect and want to extend my support from afar for those who continue to try to preserve what is left.

Jennifer Johnson
Minnesota”

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“I vehemently oppose the University’s plans for the future of Mauna Kea. The lands of Mauna Kea are ecologically unique and culturally significant that is why they are protected as a conservation district. Conservation — not telescope construction — must be focus of all activity there.

Mahalo,
Valerie Loh
Honolulu, Hawaii”

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