Chair Yamane, Vice Chair Cullen, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii has concerns with SB 284, SD 2. This bill allocates $3,000,000 of transient accommodations tax revenues to the special land and development fund to be expended in accordance with the long-range strategic plan for tourism; authorizes the Department of Budget and Finance to issue $40,000,000 in revenue bonds to acquire a conservation easement at Turtle Bay, Oahu; requires transfer of the conservation easement to the Department of Land and Natural Resources; and allocates transient accommodations tax revenues of $3,000,000 annually to amortize the
To resolve procedural issues the League requests that SB 284, SD 2, HD 1 be reformatted and rewritten in a manner which involves total repeal rather than amendment of Act 81, Session Laws of Hawaii (SLH) 2014. Because neither the subject nor the provisions of Act 81, SLH 2014, had a public hearing during the 2014 legislative session, we question whether Act 81 was enacted in the manner required under our State Constitution.
To minimize ambiguity and risk of litigation, the League requests that SB 284, SD 2, HD 1 clarify what public uses and what private uses will be permitted on the property where a conservation easement will be acquired. Under the current wording of SB 284, SD 2, after expenditure of $40 million of public funds, it is entirely possible that no public uses will allowed on private property. In fact Section 9 of SB 284, SD 2,
repeals Section 201B-8.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, under which “The public shall have perpetual access to said conservation easement….”
To minimize ambiguity and risk of litigation, the League requests that SB 284, SD 2, HD 1 clarify whether the State EIS law will be “triggered” by either the proposed use of public funds to acquire a conservation easement or by private applications for discretionary approvals to use property where public funds were spent to acquire a conservation easement. It is not clear to us whether SB 284, SD 2 proposes to use public funds to acquire development rights for improved property (which would “trigger” Chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes). It also is not clear to us whether private property subject to a conservation easement would be treated as “state lands” under Chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.