East Hawaii News

Senate Approves PLDC Bill; Decision Reverts to House

April 9, 2013, 12:58 PM HST
* Updated April 9, 3:49 PM
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The state Senate today unanimously passed its version of a bill that would dissolve the controversial Public Land Development Corp.

The bill now goes back to the House where it originated and was approved Feb. 14 without changes.

It remains to be seen whether the House will agree to the amendments made by the Senate to House Bill 1133.

Senators on April 1 deleted one of the changes they had previously made, the transferring of three members of the PLDC’s staff – including its executive director, Lloyd Haraguchi – to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The remaining change involves appropriations made to the agency which was designed to create public-private partnerships to derive revenue from state lands.

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The agency was met with widespread public protest largely because of its authority to bypass county zoning and subdivision regulations as well as some state land-use laws.

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The original House version would have transferred funding as well as all of PLDC’s records, equipment and other property to the DLNR. The Senate version would divert the funding to the state’s land conservation fund.

If the House does not agree with the change, the bill would be referred to a conference committee comprised of members from both the House and Senate.

Critics of the PLDC have expressed concern that politics rather than public sentiment might prevail if the matter goes to a conference committee where public testimony is not taken and much of the decision-making takes place behind closed doors.

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In a related matter, Sen. Malama Solomon has decided not to ask a court for a restraining order against the author of what she described as a threatening email, her staff said.

The email was critical of past support from Solomon and Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz for Act 55, the 2011 state law that created the PDLC.

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