By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER
HONOLULU — Hawaii senators in the Ways and Means Committee have agreed to compromise on a bill to repeal the state Public Land Development Corp.
Chairman David Ige says the bill is now a “clean repeal” of the agency, which has been under fire for months because of its exemptions from county land use regulations.
Both the House and the Senate voted to abolish the agency earlier this session in response to consistent public outcry against the organization. But the chambers disagreed on the details of the bill.
Senators wanted to keep the agency’s executive director and transfer the position, along with two others, to the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The House draft didn’t include that provision.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted Monday to accept the House’s position and delete the section on personnel transfers.
Ige says he proposed the change to help ensure that the bill can go straight to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s desk rather than be sent to a conference committee, where lawmakers from both chambers would hash out the details.
But Ige decided not to adopt the House draft entirely, saying the Senate’s wording provides more clarity. Unlike the House draft, the Senate version includes a section that describes why the repeal is necessary, and it describes what will happen to the agency’s funds after it is abolished.
Sen. Laura Thielen, who supports the land agency’s repeal, says that House leaders must sign off on the Senate draft in order for the bill to skip conference committee.
She says that if the bill is sent to conference committee, it could be held hostage to political interests.
“There’s always the danger of legislation becoming pray to internal politics,” she said. “When you have a bill that many people want, there can be a lot of leverage to it.”
The Public Land Development Corp. was established in 2011 to help raise state revenue by developing public lands through public-private partnerships.