By Ferd Lewis
January 5, 2021
Legislators say they plan to introduce a new measure this month to repair a flaw in earlier legislation that has slowed the progress of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District.
Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson (D, Moanalua-Aiea) and Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Pearl Harbor-Kalihi) said they aim to have a bill ready for introduction when the 2021 session convenes Jan. 20, streamlining governance for the project which the state has allocated $350 million.
In the last session, Senate Bill 2940 was to have given the Aloha Stadium Authority jurisdiction over the project, transferring it from the Hawaii Community Development Authority.
But language in the bill, described as a “monumental error,” would have impacted other projects, prompting objections in the House that could not be rectified by the session’s end in July.
Without the clear delineation of authority, state officials have not been willing to proceed with the request for proposal process with the three priority listed developer-led entities. The delay has led to uncertainty whether the project can meet its projected deadline of Sept. 1, 2023 for the University of Hawaii’s football season opener against Stanford.
“Like all legislation every now and then you realize there are some things along the way that need to be tweaked and this will help with the governance structure and effectuate this to a reality,” Johanson said.
“The introduction and passage of legislation to address concerns with the previous SB 2940 is welcomed and essential to the successful future of the NASED project,” said Chris Kinimaka, Public Works Administrator for the Department of Accounting and General Services. “Quick passage and signing of the bill into law will allow the State to expedite the issuance of the RFP for award of the stadium and the district property development agreements.”
Wakai said the goal now is to try to “fast track the bill and get it to the Governor’s desk.” Wakai said, “I can say with confidence on the Senate side that we are ready to get this across the goal line.”
Johanson said, “I think it is certainly going to be one of the priorities of the session because of the economic development and jobs at a time when the state is struggling for it. But like all things, it is going to come after what we do with the budget because that is sort of the 5,000-pound elephant in the room.”
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