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Mauna Kea Management Authority bill advances to reform stewardship

Maunakea. PC: University of Hawaiʻi – Hilo

A conference committee voted to approve Conference Draft 1 for HB2024 which aims to reform the Mauna a Wākea stewardship authority to benefit of both culture and science.

The approved draft accounts for amendments that the Senate Higher Education/Ways and Means Committee proposed in early April.

The House’s original version would have established the Mauna a Wākea stewardship authority as the sole authority for management of state-managed lands on Mauna a Wākea. In the Senate’s version of the measure, the interests and concerns of the Native Hawaiian community along with the University of Hawaiʻi is accounted for, according to senate leaders.

The conference committee on HB 2024 was created to resolve differences between the last House and Senate version of the bill. The conference committee was comprised of the following:

  • House: Representatives Tarnas, Nakashima, Branco, Co-Chairs; Eli, and McDermott
  • Senate: Senators Kim, Chair; Keith-Agaran, Co-Chairs; Kanuha, and Fevella

Key points from Conference Draft 1 include the following:

  • 11-member Authority, appointed by Governor and confirmed by Senate
    • DNLR, UH Board of Regents, Hawaiʻi Island Mayors, observatories’ representative, 5 citizens (land management, education, business/finance, lineal descendant practitioner, cultural practitioner), 2 citizens (from list submitted by Senate President and Speaker of the House; UH Hilo Chancellor non-voting ex-officio)
    • The Chair is appointed by the Governor from members            
  • 5-year transition period (from confirmation of members)
    • UH handles day-to-day management
    • Authority stands up, plans for the future, establishes processes and rules
    • Authority reports to Legislature
    • Recommends creation of a Mauna Kea Reserve (which lands, purposes)
    • May enter into any work intended to prepare for post-transition period
    • Transition period can be shortened if agreed to by UH and Authority
    • Moratorium on any new lease or renewal of lease
  • Post-transition period
    • Authority assumes powers and responsibilities of DLNR and LUC over the lands in the Mauna Kea Reserve
    • Authority takes over day-to-day management
    • UH is released from legal obligations, except for any previous lawsuits
  • Master lease
    • Remains in effect until end of term in 2033, along with subleases
    • Authority makes policy about land use and land management during transition period
    • New lease(s) may be acted upon in post-transition period (from o/a 2028)
  • Supporting astronomy consistent with the mutual stewardship of Mauna Kea is a state priority
    • Reuse of decommissioned sites to be prioritized for any new facilities over undeveloped lands
    • Viewing time for University of Hawaiʻi to be negotiated in going forward leases
    • Priority given for viewing time projects that involves students, including Hawaiian language students
    • Develop, negotiate and execute agreements that promote astronomy to include education, training, employment opportunities for local residents
    • $350,00 to ʻImiloa Astronomy Center for astronomy-related education programs (K-12 public)

“This has been a challenging, but incredibly important process that we wanted to undertake,” said Senator Kim, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education. “Mauna Kea has a profound significance to both culture and science, and we wanted to ensure that we respect both sides in our efforts to preserve and protect the Mauna.”

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/04/30/mauna-kea-management-authority-bill-advances-to-reform-stewardship/

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