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Hilo, Hawaii News, Sports, & Information Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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Posted: Friday, May 2nd, 2014 10:45 AM HST

Hawaii Legislature approves major land deal

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) Hawaii lawmakers approved a historic land-preservation deal Thursday after a last-minute debate on the final day of the 2014 legislative session.

House members voted to approve $40 million in bonds to pay for the deal brokered in part by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The proposal, already approved by the Senate, would preserve indefinitely more than 660 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu.

Lawmakers in the House were concerned because the deal was announced late in the session, so the proposal did not get a public hearing. Abercrombie and other supporters announced the agreement last week and then lawmakers had less than a week to adjust the budget to commit the funds.

After spending about half an hour behind closed doors to determine whether they had enough votes, House members then ground through another hour on the chamber floor, bemoaning the loathsome task of voting on a proposal that was dramatically changed so late in the session. But most were resigned that the preservation deal was important enough to approve despite the hasty nature of the lawmaking.

The debate was a tense part of an otherwise jovial day in which lawmakers wearing fragrant leis shook hands in congratulations for the bills that passed.

Over the course of the session, the Legislature also approved proposals to raise the minimum wage for the first time in seven years and to make kindergarten mandatory for 5-year-olds.

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