LIHU‘E — On the first day following the opening of the 2013 Legislature, the Senate introduced a bill — passed at first reading — to repeal the controversial Public Land Development Corporation. In the House of Representatives, a bill to repeal PLDC, crafted by three Big Island representatives, was pending introduction.
Meanwhile, Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced late Thursday afternoon he would consider a repeal of the controversial law. He signed Act 55 on May 20, 2011, which created the PLDC.
“The Hawai‘i State Legislature may need to adjust Act 55 so that its good intention can be implemented appropriate to the goals of this law,” Abercrombie said in a news release, adding that public understanding and support are essential.
“If the Legislature cannot achieve this outcome, the possibility of repeal will ensue,” he said in the release. “I will take that outcome into consideration but we cannot walk away, should that occur, without a solution that moves us forward.”
The PLDC has been widely criticized statewide for allowing its five-member board, with no Neighbor Island representation, to negotiate development of public lands while circumventing county zoning laws and allowing for minimum public input.
Abercrombie has shielded much criticism for being one of PLDC’s staunchest supporters and publicly saying he would veto a potential repeal of the law by the Legislature.
In his release Thursday, Abercrombie reiterated his support for PLDC, by saying he and “many others” believe in the legislative intent of Act 55, “which has the potential to support using public lands for public purposes that otherwise will not have sufficient funding.”
In late November, Abercrombie shifted gears slightly, by asking PLDC to take a break while its administrative rules were going through a public review conducted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which the PLDC is under. On Thursday, it was the first time Abercrombie said publicly he would consider a repeal.
“After reviewing the information compiled by the DLNR and suggested rule and regulation proposals, I believe the administrative rules process may not be able to reconcile existing support with opposing views to the extent necessary to satisfy outstanding concerns,” Abercrombie said in the release Thursday.
Former state Senate President Shan Tsutsui had publicly expressed his intention to introduce a bill to repeal Act 55 and another to amend it. But on Dec. 27, Tsutsui left the Senate after being appointed by Abercrombie to serve as his lieutenant governor, replacing Brian Schatz, who departed to Washington to serve the unexpired term of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, who replaced Tsutsui in the Senate leadership, said publicly two weeks ago that she was drafting a bill to repeal PLDC and would introduce it at the beginning of the Legislature.
But as it turns out, one of her colleagues beat her to the punch.
Senate Bill 1 was introduced by Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kane‘ohe-Wahiawa.
House Bill 110 was co-introduced by Reps. Faye Hanonano, D-Puna, Nicole Lowen, D-Kailua-Kona, and Cindy Evans, D-Kona-Kohala.
Visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov for more information.
• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.