In a rare move, Gov. Neil Abercrombie will sign a collection of legislative bills in Hilo this morning.
“It’s a first for Gov. Abercrombie,” said Wendy Botelho, the governor’s East Hawaii representative.
Abercrombie is in town today for the grand reopening of the Kulani Correctional Facility, but before heading that way, he’ll stop at the Hilo Yacht Club at 8:20 a.m. to sign the bills, which will directly impact Big Island residents, into law.
Among the bills that he will sign:
• Senate Bill 3093 —Appropriates $200,000 for the University of Hawaii at Hilo RISE 21st Century After School Program. Introduced by state Sen. Gil Kahele, the bill seeks to support a program that assists underprivileged children of Hawaiian ancestry in developing life skills, achieving academic success, and career planning.
• House Bill 1823 —Allows the Board of Land and Natural Resources to provide for mediation in disputes regarding the fair market value or fair market rental of public lands. Introduced by state Rep. Richard Onishi, the bill called attention to a sometimes “cumbersome” statutory framework for arbitration of such disputes and does not provide the parties “an opportunity to work collaboratively toward mutual solutions to disputes.”
• Senate Bill 2953 - Provides that 100 percent of the royalties from geothermal resources on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) properties shall be paid to the DHHL. Sponsored by state Sens. Malama Solomon and Gil Kahele.
• Senate Bill 2583 —Appropriates $250,000 for an engineering assessment of a proposal to establish a laser optical communications ground station in Hawaii through the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems. Supported by state Sen. Josh Green, the bill supports attempts by NASA to develop advanced communications technologies to take over for radio communications in space exploration.
• and, Senate Bill 2152 — Provides for the chief of police to establish guidelines for the use of unmanned aircraft systems, as well as provides for various penalties if such systems are used to cause a nuisance, fitted with light firearms, or if used to invade privacy. Supported by state Sen. Russell Ruderman, the bill addresses the fact that unmanned aircraft systems are emerging technologies “that have the potential to transform America,” however they also bring with them concerns about individual privacy.
State Sen. Malama Solomon, D-Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona, said she was excited to have the governor in town to sign the Hawaiian Home Lands bill she supported.
“For me, it’s wonderful for him to be here,” she said Monday afternoon. “Ordinarily, having to go to Honolulu (for signings), it doesn’t provide an opportunity for our constituencies to be present. But this, which will be at the Yacht Club, is an open event so anybody can come. And we did receive a lot of testimony in support of this bill from people on Hawaii Island.”
Abercrombie has until July 8 to sign bills presented to him following the 2014 legislative session. Last week, he signaled his intent to veto a total of 10 bills.
Email Colin M. Stewart at email@example.com.