The state House Finance Committee agreed Tuesday night to defer a bill that would have allowed the governor and county mayors to exempt certain state and county construction projects from the environmental review law.
State House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley) had sponsored the bill in the spirit of streamlining the process to get state projects launched faster. Lawmakers are hoping that an increase in state construction will help with economic recovery.
But the Sierra Club Hawaii chapter, the state Office of Environmental Quality Control and others were alarmed that lawmakers would consider exempting state projects from environmental review, even on a temporary basis. The Sierra Club also complained that the bill was re-referred from subject matter committees with jurisdiction over the environment and economic development — where it had not been scheduled for hearings — directly to the House Finance Committee.
Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa), the chairman of the House Finance Committee, said lawmakers listened to stakeholders on the issue. He said several other bills that would streamline procurement and permitting to help speed up state construction have advanced.
“I’m not going to be coming back on that,” he said of Say’s bill.