TMT-related bills fail to gain traction

//TMT-related bills fail to gain traction

Although the controversy surrounding the Thirty Meter Telescope still looms large over the Big Island community, it has largely left the state Legislature this year.

Certain TMT-related items on the state’s draft operating budget, as well as a handful of bills involving development on Maunakea, have failed to gain traction in the state Legislature and have either died or been redacted.

A meeting of the House Finance Committee earlier this week removed about $65 million from the state budget that Gov. David Ige had allocated to various state departments for possible future law enforcement actions on Maunakea through 2020 and 2021.

Among the budget items Ige had requested were nearly $36 million for the state’s Department of Defense, $18.4 million for the Department of Transportation and more than $8 million each to the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Department of Public Safety.

Together, those funds — which were reportedly added as a contingency for any project that may attract community activism, not limited strictly to the TMT project — far outstripped the current $15 million that Ige’s office has previously estimated has been spent on TMT-related enforcement.

Rep. Sylvia Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee, includes a $15 million allocation to the Department of Defense for projects that could face opposition, but no more.