Hawaii Lawmakers Vow to Clamp Down on Public Land Corp.

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Hawaii’s Public Land Development Corporation is facing an increasingly hostile political landscape as it works to partner with private companies to develop state lands.

Hawaii lawmakers are calling for it to be repealed, or its powers sharply curtailed. Environmental groups are growing increasingly hostile to the agency, which acts as a development arm of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. And hundreds of members of the public have called for it to be abolished these past couple of weeks during a series of meetings to hear comments on its proposed rules.

But public outcry or not, the PLDC has to move forward.

"I have a state law to implement and until I have another state law we are going to move forward in trying to finish the rules and assess any projects," said William Aila, chair of DLNR and a PLDC board member. "I would encourage the public to wait and see. It hasn’t done anything yet to deserve criticism."

The PLDC has yet to execute a single project, but lawmakers are already gearing up for a fight this upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.

Reps. Cynthia Thielen and Jessica Wooley both told Civil Beat this week that they will propose bills targeting the PLDC.

“I think that there are so many problems with the law that I think there is no question that we have to go back and either make changes or repeal it,” said Wooley. “It’s a mess.”

Thielen said that she would be proposing a bill to abolish the PLDC. She said that the agency shouldn’t move forward on any projects until next year's legislative session is over, otherwise it could be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“The PLDC should certainly be on notice that there is a significant movement to repeal it, so should not rush to the drawing board to move ahead with projects on state lands,” she said.

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