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Friday, January 22, 2021
OHA Asks for $3M in Legislative Package
By News Release @ 1:09 AM :: 548 Views :: OHA

2021 OHA Legislative Package

News Release from OHA, January, 2021

As part of its mandate to advocate for Native Hawaiians, each year OHA submits a package of proposed bills to the Hawaii State Legislature, and the agency’s Board of Trustees also votes to take positions on a wide variety of legislation impacting the Hawaiian community.

The following are summaries of the bills to be introduced as OHA’s 2020 state legislative package. Please continue to check this page for updates on these measures. To receive alerts about opportunities to testify at upcoming hearings, please fill out the “STAY ENGAGED” form located in the sidebar to the right of this page.

Review the 2021 Legislative Package summary here or view the individual bills in detail below.

OHA’s past legislative efforts for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are also available online.

Bill numbers and links to the bills’ status and text webpages on the Hawaiʻi State Legislature’s website will be posted when they become available. 

In this upcoming legislative session, our state legislators will have the immense kuleana of addressing the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the lessons that the post-COVID-19 world have taught us. OHA’s 2021 legislative package is accordingly tailored to focus on essential issues, highlighted by the ongoing pandemic, by:

Maintaining the decades-long partnership between OHA and the state to fund programs serving our Native Hawaiian beneficiaries who have been significantly impacted from this public health crisis; 

Supporting Hawaiʻi’s critical sustainability and food security goals through the establishment of a diversified agriculture model on OHA’s Wahiawā lands; 

Tackling Hawaiʻi’s continuing cycle of houselessness and the criminalization of people experiencing houselessness; and 

Addressing data collection and governance practices that have impeded efforts to address COVID-19’s impacts on Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

Developed through internal and targeted outreach with key stakeholders, experts, and community leaders, an intensive vetting process and discussions with OHA leadership and the Board of Trustees, OHA’s Board-approved 2021 legislative package includes the following:

OHA-1: OHA Biennium Budget Bill FY22-23

OHA’s budget bill requests $3,037,879 in state general fund appropriations each fiscal year, to support OHA’s budget plans for the upcoming biennium.  This request reflects the same “base budget” in general funds that was appropriated to OHA in FY2017-2018 and FY2019-2020; in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this request is $940,000 per year less than what OHA most recently requested in FY2019.  Historical bill provisos continue to earmark over $1.5M/year in state general funds and the same amount in OHA trust funds for OHA to strategically invest in social services, education, and legal services for Native Hawaiians. This measure would reaffirm the longstanding partnership between the state and OHA and allow OHA to meet critical community needs to benefit OHA’s beneficiaries and Hawai‘i as a whole.

Learn more about OHA-1: Read the bill and review the infographics.

HEARING DATE: To be scheduled

OHA-2: Supporting Sustainable Diversified Agriculture, Cultural Protection in Wahiawā

This measure is a re-submittal of OHA’s 2020 capital improvement project request, to authorize the issuance of $3M in state general obligation bonds to support the construction of water storage and distribution infrastructure on OHA’s Wahiawā lands.  In addition to supporting local workers and businesses, this construction project will allow OHA to move forward with its plans for culturally and ecologically compatible diversified agriculture in Wahiawā, and thereby contribute to our islands’ food self-sufficiency and resiliency.

Note: OHA has already secured a 1M gallon/week commitment of water from the Agribusiness Development Corporation and has already committed its own funding towards the design, planning, and permitting of the water storage and distribution system.

Learn more about OHA-2: Read the bill and review the whitepaper.

HEARING DATE: To be scheduled

OHA-3: Clearing the Path Home for People Experiencing Houselessness

Criminal records resulting from the effective criminalization of houseless individuals inhibit their ability to secure critical documentation (such as drivers’ licenses), services, employment, and housing, thereby exacerbating our islands’ houselessness challenges.  With a disproportionate amount of OHA beneficiaries suffering from houselessness, this measure seeks to mitigate these impacts by allowing for the expungement of arrest and conviction records for certain state laws (i.e. obstruction of sidewalks, trespass on state lands) that are typically, if not exclusively, enforced against those experiencing houselessness, and for any other other non-violent offenses shown to have arisen from an individual’s houseless status.

Learn more about OHA-3: Read the bill and review the whitepaper.

HEARING DATE: To be scheduled

OHA-4: 21st Century Data Governance for Fact-Based Policymaking

Existing data and other indicators suggest that COVID-19 may be impacting Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander communities in significant and unique ways.  Addressing these impacts will require tailored responses to ensure the recovery and continued resiliency of these communities.  Unfortunately, data collection and reporting challenges encountered during the pandemic have stymied efforts to develop targeted policies and interventions to address COVID-19’s impacts on Native Hawaiians and on other Pacific Islander communities, and have highlighted longstanding concerns about the need to enhance and improve data governance practices by state and county agencies generally. This resolution urges the sharing of disaggregated Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander data by certain critical government agencies, and requests that further steps be taken to improve government agencies’ data governance practices going forward.

Learn more about OHA-4: Read the bill and review the whitepaper.

HEARING DATE: To be scheduled

Sign up for updates on OHA’s legislative package and other important measures this 2021 session, at www.oha.org/legislation. To view important dates this session, be sure to view the 2021 Legislative Calendar.

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