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Gov. Abercrombie signs bills on Big Island for first time

July 2, 2014 - 10:55am

Before Tuesday’s grand reopening of the Kulani Correctional Facility, Big Island legislators and community members gathered at the Hilo Yacht Club to witness Gov. Neil Abercrombie signing five bills approved by legislators this session.

The ceremony marked the first time the governor has done so on Hawaii Island. After taking office in 2010, he seeks re-election this November. Abercrombie explained the event served as a reminder of his administration’s dedication to representing the neighbor islands in the capital.

“Today not only recognizes that, but demonstrates that we truly do have an ‘islands-wide’ state,” he said. “And, the signing of the bills today relate to the Big Island in particular.”

Among the bills that became law were a pair of appropriations totaling $750,000 to support work on programs at the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems.

House Bill 2152 sets aside $500,000 to support general operations at PISCES, including five research initiatives that would set the state up as a leader in aerospace technology, Abercrombie said.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 2583 appropriated $250,000 for an engineering assessment of a proposal to establish a laser optical communications ground station in Hawaii through PISCES. The station would be part of an effort to improve communications in space exploration.

The funding for PISCES will help make clear to NASA that “we want the opportunity to succeed,” the governor said.

The other bills included:

  • Senate Bill 3093 — Appropriating $200,000 for the University of Hawaii at Hilo RISE 21st Century After School Program. The funding will support a program that assists underprivileged children of Hawaiian ancestry in developing life skills, achieving academic success and career planning.
  • House Bill 1823 — Allowing the Board of Land and Natural Resources to provide for mediation in disputes regarding the fair market value or fair market rental of public lands.
  • Senate Bill 2953 — Guaranteeing that 100 percent of the royalties from geothermal resources on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands properties shall be paid to DHHL.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.