Residents have been rallying against the Public Land Development Corporation or PLDC for months. On Monday, Hawaii lawmakers voted on a bill that could kill the new state department.
For the past six months, many have complained about the formation of the PLDC.
"I will not have a dictator agency in this stupid state," said one upset resident at a meeting in Hilo last August.
The state office was set up in 2012 to develop public lands and generate revenue for the Department of Land and Natural resources. What it has generated instead is a lot of anger and distrust by residents.
"Is this what we want to do, steal our future and steal the public lands?" asked Big Island resident Margaret Wille.
Over the weekend, almost all the testimony during a house hearing called for lawmakers to get rid of the development corporation, which aims to create public private partnerships to improve communities.
"Lets get down to just repealing the PLDC," said Maui resident Mahina Martin.
Lawmakers listened but did not pass any measures, either to repeal the PLDC or make changes to it.
"I had hoped people would come with an argument in favor of the PLDC, so we could salvage it, but I didn't hear that at all," said Rep. Cindy Evans, the chair of the Water and Land Committee.
Instead lawmakers got the message loud and clear.
"Public lands are not to be sold," said Kaimuki resident Keiko Bonk.
"I think many wanted this issue of homerule. Because of what they wanted in our communities, residents felt they were being bypassed by the Public Land Development Corporation," said Evans.
In Monday's session, the two house committees which had originally heard five bills related to the PLDC only passed a single measure -- unanimously, to repeal the PLDC.
"I think we showed true representation of the community sentiment. I was happy we reflected what the community wanted," stated Evans.
The bill will now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote. If it passes, then the measure to repeal the PLDC would shift to the senate later this legislative session.