Turtle Bay conservation alive, OHA development dead at legislative deadline

Turtle Bay conservation alive, OHA development dead at legislative deadline

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A measure to fund a conservation easement at Turtle Bay remained alive after a deadline for House and Senate conferees to reach agreement on measures at the State Legislature. But a bill that would have allowed the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to develop in Kakaako failed to win approval.

Lawmakers had to reach agreement by 6 p.m. Friday for measures to continue to the full House and Senate for final approval.

It wasn't clear when the day started whether there would be a deal between the two chambers to fund the $40 million the state would need to keep more than 660 acres at Turtle Bay from being developed. Lawmakers agreed to get the money through revenue bonds.

"It's the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment to cooperate between chambers," said Sen. Clayton Hee (D-Haleiwa, Waialua, Haleiwa, Kaneohe).

But there wasn't that much cooperation on a bill that would have allowed OHA to build high-rise residential condominiums on parcels in the Kakaako area makai of Ala Moana Boulevard.

OHA blamed the House conferees, saying that they drastically changed the bill at the last minute and then rejected it.

"We were prepared to vote. The Senate was prepared to go with that particular version, but unfortunately the House couldn't produce the votes," said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D-Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako), one of the sponsors of the original bill.

"I think if there's any good stewards for Kakaako lands, it would be OHA. They wouldn't put up anything that they wouldn't be proud of, that we wouldn't be proud of," Galuteria added.

"Clearly there's going to be disappointment and some frustration in the situation, but we'll re-group and we'll be back," said OHA Chief Operating Officer Kawika Burgess.

There also was frustration and disappointment when the House and Senate failed to reach agreement on a measure that would have mandated health insurance coverage for children with autism.

"It's a huge disappointment because my son won't get help," said Geri Pinnow. "But it's the children who are coming if they have autism, and they're not going to get help and they're developing and it sets them so far behind."

House and Senate conferees agreed to raise Hawaii's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by the year 2018. They also agreed on a $12.1 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year.

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