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Lawmakers Approve Turtle Bay Deal

The state House voted Thursday to give final approval to a bill that would authorize $40 million in state bonds to help preserve 665 acres of Turtle Bay Resort from future development. The vote was 48-to-2, but some lawmakers believed the process was rushed and lacked transparency. The state will spend $48.5 million to buy a conservation easement at Turtle Bay. Through a unique financing scheme, the state and the Hawaii Tourism Authority would restructure debt on the Hawaii Convention Center and use some of the savings -- about $3 million a year in hotel room tax revenue -- to pay for debt service on the $40 million in revenue bonds. North Shore conservationists are pleased with the deal. But some lawmakers felt the process was too quick. Representative Marcus Oshiro said House and Senate leaders could have suspended conference committee rules and held a public hearing on the Turtle Bay deal. He said the Legislature could also have held a special session later.

 

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