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Thursday, August 13, 2015
Governor, AG Oppose Federal DHHL Rules
By Andrew Walden @ 10:10 PM :: 5744 Views :: DHHL

On August 12, 2015, the last day for public comment on proposed US DoI rules governing Hawaiian Homelands, Governor David Ige and Acting Attorney General Russell Suzuki submitted the following statements in opposition to the proposed rules.  Their position supports that of the Hawaiian Homes Commission which earlier submitted testimony against the proposed rule change.

LINK: AG Statement

LINK: Governor's Statement

LINK: All Comments on Proposed Rules

  *   *   *   *   *

Ka'i'ini Kimo Kaloi, Director
Office of Native Hawaiian Relations
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Re:     Comments of the Attorney General of the State of Hawaii on Proposed Rules Regarding Land Exchange Procedures and Procedures to Amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. 1920.  RIN 1090-AA98

Dear Director Kaloi:      August 12, 2015

I, Russell A. Suzuki, as Acting Attorney General of the State of Hawai 'i, and on behalf of Douglas S. Chin, Attorney General of the State of Hawaii, respectfully submit the following comments to the Department of the Interior ("DOl"} regarding the proposed rules on land exchange procedures and procedures to amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act ("IDICA") that were published on May 12, 2015.

We recognize that the Hawai'i Admission Act and the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act ("HHLRA") give DOl a specific role in approving land exchanges and amendments to the HHCA. However, we are concerned that the proposed rules appear to go beyond the standard reflected in the statutes and impose additional administrative requirements and criteria not required by the statutes. True, administrative regulations are supposed to elaborate upon areas that are not well-developed in the statutes, and it may not technically be unlawful for DOl's proposed rules to do so here. However, the additional administrative requirements and criteria set forth in the proposed rules may be counterproductive as a policy matter. Additional administrative requirements and criteria may unnecessarily constrain the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands ("DHHL") and/or other state officials and could make it more difficult to go forward with land exchanges or amendments to the HHCA that would benefit the program overall.

DHHL has expressed similar concerns in a resolution passed by the Hawaiian Homes Commission on June 16, 2015. In the resolution, the Commission stated: "[T]he Hawaiian Homes Commission is mindful of the authority granted the Secretary of the Interior by the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act but is concerned that the proposed rules attempt to expand that authority beyond the boundaries that were set for appropriate oversight[.]" Regarding the proposed rules, we share these concerns. 1

We believe that both federal and state officials would agree with the guiding principle that land exchanges and amendments to the HHCA should ultimately benefit the beneficiaries of the HHCA. However, it must also be remembered that the State of Hawai'i, through DHHL, is primarily responsible for the administration of the HHCA. While it is true that federal law envisions a role for DOl, it is important that that role not expand to the point where federal officials become an obstacle to state officials attempting to perform their duties in good faith.

Very truly yours,

RUSSELL A. SUZUKI

Acting Attorney General

State of Hawai' i

1 Note, however, that the Commission, in the resolution, also urged DOl "to make sure that the State of Hawaii faithfully executes its trust obligations to Hawaiian Homes Commission Act beneficiaries and to provide sufficient sums to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands[.]" This particular statement appears to be directed toward a separate issue and is irrelevant to the issue of land exchanges and amendments to the HHCA that is currently before us. Moreover, this statement does 1121 have the support of other state officials and should not be interpreted as the official position of the government of the State of Hawai'i as a whole.

  *   *   *   *   *

Ka'i'ini Kimo Kaloi, Director
Office of Native Hawaiian Relations
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Re: Concurrence of the Governor of Hawai'i to the Comments Of the Attorney General of the State of Hawai'i on Proposed Rules Regarding Land Exchange Procedures and Procedures To Amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, RIN 1090-AA98

Dear Director Kaloi:     August 12, 2015

I submit this letter to indicate my concurrence with the comments to the Proposed Rules Regarding Land Exchange Procedures and Procedures to Amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, RIN 1 090-AA98, that is being submitted by the Attorney General of the State of Hawai'i.

The purpose for these amendments to the rules regarding land exchange procedures must be for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to provide my comments to the proposed rule amendments.

Sincerely,

David Y. Ige

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