See below the post for legislators you can contact and a sample message you can use to help stop this bad bill!
Exempting a new "school facilities agency" from public spending and environmental laws seemed like a bad idea to the vast majority of respondents to a March 5 Star-Advertiser poll.
A follow-up editorial largely trashed the proposal in SB3103 SD2. Other commenters did as well.
Most critics have focused on the agency's ability to avoid procurement laws, designed to prevent corruption and the shady or wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars; others have highlighted its qualified exemption from environmental review (i.e. environmental impact statement) laws, designed to ensure that threats to the environment or public health (like when you build on toxic waste) are properly and publicly evaluated (with public input) during project planning.
(Side note: Just last year, 18 out of 23 schools surveyed by the Department of Education were found to have "elevated" levels of lead, arsenic, or chlordane in their soil; most if not all were likely built well before our environmental review laws were enacted).
Less publicized has been the agency's wholesale exemption from "Chapter 6E", the state laws that:
Should SB3103 SD2 pass as drafted, the new school facilities agency would be completely exempt from Chapter 6E.
Its projects could break ground without historic preservation review, without an archaeological inventory survey, without consultation with any island burial council or cultural monitor or anyone at all, and could knowingly plow through Native Hawaiian or other ancestral graves or priceless historic artifacts without consequence.
Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the re-interment of over 1,100 iwi unearthed during construction of the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, before Chapter 6E existed. A large part of Chapter 6E was enacted as a result of the uprising that occurred after news broke of the destruction of Native Hawaiian burial grounds, and Native Hawaiians organized. Even with these additional laws, a MASSIVE amount of development has occurred since then, without an exemption to any of Chapter 6E's requirements, and with far less desecration than would likely have occurred. Why are legislators now just throwing Chapter 6E in its entirety in the dumpster, for this new and nearly all-powerful development agency?
One final note -- the school facilities agency, administered and run almost entirely by the Governor's appointees, would also have the power to sell public lands for up to 99 years to private developers under SECTION 8 of its current draft.
We tell our children, don't cheat, don't take shortcuts, don't disrespect your elders. So why give a "school facilities agency" and its developers permission to do just that -- cut shady deals, avoid environmental laws, and all but destroy the bones of our ancestors?
SB3103 SD2 is a dumpster fire waiting to happen.
Maui residents! Your representative, Lower and Higher Education Committee Chair Rep. Justin Woodson (Kahului, Puʻunēnē, Old Sand Hills, Maui Lani) (808-586-6210 or firstname.lastname@example.org), is one of the lead legislators who is being pressured to pass this bill.
The other is Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nu'uanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) (808-586-6200 or email@example.com).
Other Lower and Higher Education and Finance Committee members can be found here:
Know any of these legislators? Do they represent your home? If so--
Please take a moment and help get others to call or e-mail them, to let them know SB3103 SD2 is a bad idea.
Sample e-mail message:
"Dear Representative __________,
Please stop SB3103 SD2. While I support addressing our school facility needs, an agency exempt from procurement, environmental, and historic preservation laws will invite far more harm than good. These laws keep our children safe, uphold the trust of taxpayers, and stop the outright desecration of all ancestral remains, Native Hawaiian or otherwise. Please do not hear this bill or vote for its passage.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.