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Mauna Kea Management Authority Bill Passes Committee and Heads to Senate Floor for Final Vote

by Thunda

In a decision-making meeting today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means voted to pass HB 2024 HD1 SD2 with substantive amendments. The measure, as originally proposed by the House, would establish the Mauna a Wākea stewardship authority as the sole authority for management of state-managed lands on Mauna a Wākea, while also directing the authority to develop a single plan that dictates the management of land uses.

Amendments were previously added when the measure was up for consideration by the Senate Committee on Higher Education in mid-March.

In his remarks today, Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, shared that the proposed Senate Draft 2 of the measure is a continual effort by the Senate to balance the interests and concerns of the Native Hawaiian community with the interests of the State through the University of Hawaiʻi’s world-class science-based education and astronomy programs on Mauna Kea.

“In collaboration with the chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, we believe that this proposed Senate Draft 2 and its amendments are reflective of the many discussions that we’ve had with various community groups, stakeholders, and from the testimony that we’ve received from the public,” said Senator Dela Cruz.

Despite David Ige’s recent comments that this bill would “kill astronomy” on Hawaiʻi Island, Senator Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, believes that Senate Draft 2 is a significant improvement from previous versions and that the measure actually provides the University with oversight of the Astronomy Precinct.

“Since being introduced at the beginning of the session, we have not heard from the Governor or received any input from him on this bill. The Senate has worked very hard to incorporate the suggestions and recommendations from individuals on all sides of this issue, particularly from those in the astronomy community,” said Senator Kim. “In this new version of the bill, the responsibilities to manage the mountain will be bifurcated or split between two entities – the new Mauna Kea Stewardship Authority and the University of Hawaiʻi. The Mauna Kea Stewardship Authority will be charged with managing, protecting, and conserving the public uses of the approximately 9,450 acres of Mauna Kea Conservation Lands, while the University will be tasked with managing the 550 acres of Astronomy Research Lands comprised of the Astronomy Precinct, the Hale Pohaku Complex, and the Mauna Kea Access Road.”

HB 2024 HD1 SD2 now heads to the floor for third reading and full consideration by the Senate.

A list of amendments proposed by the committee is attached to this press release.

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