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Full Text: Interior Department Issues Rule on Procedures to Amend Hawaiian Homes Commission Act
By News Release @ 2:18 PM :: 5304 Views :: DHHL

Interior Department Issues Rule on Procedures to Amend Hawaiian Homes Commission Act

News Release from US Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON, May 16 -- The Department of Interior published the following rule in the Federal Register:

Land Exchange Procedures and Procedures to Amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920

A Rule by the Interior Department on 05/13/2016

Publication Date: Friday, May 13, 2016

Agencies:

Department of the Interior

Office of the Secretary

Dates: This rule is effective July 12, 2016.

Effective Date: 07/12/2016

Entry Type: Rule

Action: Final rule.

Document Citation: 81 FR 29776

Page: 29776 -29793 (18 pages)

CFR:

43 CFR 47

43 CFR 48

Agency/Docket Numbers:

167D0102DM

DLSN00000.000000

DS61400000

DX61401

RIN: 1090-AA98

Document Number: 2016-11146

Shorter URL: https://federalregister.gov/a/2016-11146

ACTION

Final Rule.

SUMMARY

This rule provides clarity in how the Department of the Interior administers certain provisions of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act. It facilitates the goal of the rehabilitation of the Native Hawaiian community, including the return of native Hawaiians to the land, consistent with the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, the State of Hawai'i Admission Act, and the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act. The rule clarifies the land exchange process for Hawaiian home lands, the documents required for land exchanges, and the respective responsibilities of the Department of the Interior, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the Hawaiian Homes Commission, and other entities engaged in land exchanges of Hawaiian home lands. It also identifies the documentation requirements and the responsibilities of the Secretary of the Interior in the approval process for State of Hawai'i proposed amendments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920.

UNIFIED AGENDA

Land Exchange Procedures

1 action from October 2011

October 2011

NPRM

DATES:

This rule is effective July 12, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

The final rule is available on the internet at: http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ka`i`ini Kimo Kaloi, Director, Office of Native Hawaiian Relations, telephone (202) 208-7462.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

In 1921, Congress enacted the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920 (HHCA), 42 Stat. 108, to provide a homesteading program for native Hawaiians by placing approximately 200,000 acres of land (known as Hawaiian home lands) into the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. The day-to-day administration of Hawaiian Home Lands Trust is by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), an agency of the State of Hawai'i, headed by an executive board known as the Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC). The HHCA provides the Chairman of the HHC the authority to propose to the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) the exchange of Hawaiian home lands for land privately or publicly owned in furtherance of the purposes of the HHCA.

The HHCA also created a series of funds (the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Funds, or "trust funds") See, HHCA section 213 as amended. The purpose of one of these trust funds is the "rehabilitation of native Hawaiians, native Hawaiian families, and Hawaiian homestead communities," which shall include "the educational, economic, political, social, and cultural processes by which the general welfare and conditions of native Hawaiians are thereby improved and perpetuated." Id. Another in this series of trust funds seeks, for instance, to enhance construction of replacement homes, repairs or additions, and enhance development of farms, ranches or aquaculture, and to provide farm loans, including for soil and water conservation. Still another trust fund provides money for construction, reconstruction operations and maintenance of revenue-producing improvements intended to benefit occupants of Hawaiian home lands; for investments in water and other utilities, supplies, equipment, and goods; and for professional services needed to plan, implement, develop or operate such projects that will improve the value of Hawaiian home lands for their current and future occupants. Other money is provided to establish and maintain an account to serve as a reserve for loans issued or backed by the Federal Government, to further the purpose of the HHCA. The purposes and goals of these funds reflect congressionally identified purposes and goals of the HHCA.

In 1959, Congress enacted the Hawai'i Admission Act, 73 Stat. 4 (Admission Act), to admit the Territory of Hawai'i (Hawai'i or State) into the United States as a state. In compliance with the Admission Act, and as a compact between the State and the United States relating to the management and disposition of the Hawaiian home lands, the State adopted the HHCA, as amended, as a law of the State through Article XII of its Constitution.

In section 223 of the HHCA, Congress reserved to itself the right to alter, amend, or repeal the HHCA. Consistent with this provision, section 4 of the Admission Act provides limitations on the State's administration of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust and the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Funds (hereafter referred to together as the Trust) and also provides that the HHCA is subject to amendment or repeal by the State only with the consent of the United States. Recognizing, however, that it was vesting the State with day-to-day administrative authority, Congress in section 4 of the Admission Act also provided exceptions within which the State could amend certain administrative provisions of the HHCA without the consent of the United States. The HHCA is a cooperative federalism statute, a compound of interdependent Federal and State law that establishes a Federal law framework but also provides for implementation through State law.

Consistent with the provisions of the HHCA and the Admission Act, Congress enacted the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act in 1995 (HHLRA), 109 Stat. 357, which provides that the Secretary shall determine whether a State-proposed amendment to the HHCA requires the consent of the United States under section 4 of the Admission Act. It is appropriately the function of the United States to ensure conformance with the limitations in the Admissions Act and protect the integrity of this statutory framework.

The HHLRA also clarified the Secretary's role in the oversight of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. Section 204(a)(3) of the HHCA, in conjunction with Section 205 of the HHLRA, requires the approval or disapproval of the Secretary for the exchange of Hawaiian home lands. The HHLRA details the Secretary's responsibilities to ensure that Hawaiian home lands are administered in a manner that advances the interests of the beneficiaries.

While the Secretary has broad responsibilities under the HHCA and the Admissions Act, the HHLRA clarifies the scope of the continuing responsibilities of the Federal Government with regard to the HHCA. Two of these responsibilities are addressed in the final rule. First, it clarifies the role of the Secretary in land exchanges and, second, clarifies the process for the Secretary's review of State-proposed amendments to the HHCA. As to HHC Chairman-proposed land exchanges, the HHLRA provides that the HHC Chairman submit a report to the Secretary, including identification of the benefits to the parties of the proposed exchange. The Secretary shall approve or disapprove the proposed exchange depending on whether it advances the interests of the beneficiaries. As to State-proposed amendments to the HHCA, the HHLRA requires the State to notify the Secretary of any amendment it proposes to the HHCA and then requires the Secretary to determine whether it impacts Federal responsibilities under the HHCA or infringes on Federal interests or those of the HHCA beneficiaries. If the Secretary determines the State's proposed amendment of the HHCA impacts the Federal responsibilities or infringes on either the Federal or beneficiaries' interests, the Secretary must submit the amendment to Congress for approval.

Since Hawai'i's admission to the Union, both Secretarial reviews occurred on an ad hoc basis using procedures accepted by the State and the Department. See, letter dated August 21, 1987 to Chairman Morris Udall of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. This rule establishes a clear process for Secretarial review and approval of land exchanges proposed by the HHC Chairman under the HHCA and HHLRA (Part 47), and of State-proposed amendments to the HHCA (Part 48).

II. Responses to Comments on the May 12, 2015 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On May 12, 2015, the Secretary issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), entitled "Land Exchange Procedures and Procedures to Amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act." 80 FR 27134-27141 (May 12, 2015). The NPRM sought input from leaders and members of the Native Hawaiian community, HHCA beneficiaries, and the public about how the Secretary reviews land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands proposed by the HHC Chairman and State-proposed amendments to the HHCA.

The NPRM set an initial 60-day comment period that ended on July 13, 2015. In response to requests from commenters, including the HHC on behalf of itself and HHCA beneficiaries, the Secretary extended the comment deadline another 30 days, ending on August 12, 2015. 80 FR 39991 (July 13, 2015).

The Secretary received over 500 written comments by the August 12, 2015 deadline. All comments received on the NPRM are available in the NPRM docket at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DOI-2015-0002-0001. Most of the comments revolved around a limited number of issues. The issues discussed below encompass the range of substantive issues presented in comments on the NPRM.

After careful review and analysis of the comments on the NPRM, the Department concludes that it is appropriate to publish a final rule that would set forth the administrative procedures for the review of land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands proposed by the HHC Chairman and amendments to the HHCA proposed by the State.

Overview of Comments

The Department received comments from the Native Hawaiian community, the State, HHCA beneficiaries, and others. One fundamental question raised in the comments was whether the rule expands the Secretary's authority beyond the HHCA, Admission Act, and HHLRA. We conclude that the rule is within the Secretary's authority and consistent with long-standing practice under the HHCA, Admission Act, and HHLRA.

State-proposed amendments. On August 21, 1987, the Secretary forwarded to the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, a proposed procedure, agreed upon by the State and Secretary, for obtaining the consent of the United States to State-proposed amendments to the HHCA. That procedure provided for the HHC Chairman forwarding the proposed amendment to the Secretary with an opinion from an appropriate legal officer of the State, followed by the Secretary examining the material transmitted and then submitting to Congress a proposed report and bill. The parties anticipated that most State-proposed amendments would be free of controversy and national implications and would be submitted to Congress once every one to two years. The Department endeavored to follow these procedures subsequently embodied in the HHLRA and in this rule.

Land exchanges. In the late 1970's, the State and the DHHL were resolving claims between themselves over lands that the State had allegedly withdrawn illegally from the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, while also addressing claims against the United States for lands allegedly withdrawn illegally from the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust or used by the United States during the territorial period. Congress considered addressing these claims and implementing some recommendations of the Federal-State Task Force Report from 1983, such as the existing informal process of Secretarial review of land exchanges proposed by the HHC Chairman. Accordingly, Congress passed the HHLRA which provides procedures for settlement of federal claims (section 203); approval of amendments to the HHCA (section 204); and approval of exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands (section 205). The HHLRA also designated a federal official within the Department "to administer the responsibilities of the United States" under the HHCA and the HHLRA, and to protect and advance HHCA beneficiaries' rights and interests, including promoting homesteading opportunities, economic self-sufficiency, and social well-being (section 206). See, Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act: Hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on S. 2174, 103d Cong., 9-10, 19 (1994). See, response to questions 3 and 40.

HHCA beneficiaries. The HHLRA defines "beneficiary" in the same terms as "native Hawaiian" is defined in the HHCA, which was adopted as a provision of the constitution of the State as a compact with the United States. In 1959, when section 4 of the Admission Act referred to amendments that "increase the benefits to lessees of Hawaiian home lands," all lessees met the definition of "native Hawaiian" and had a blood quantum of at least 50 percent. Beginning in 1986, however, certain persons with a lesser blood quantum could obtain lessees through succession or transfer. See, 100 Stat. 3143 (1986). The HHLRA, nevertheless, defined beneficiary in terms of the HHCA definition, not in terms of lessees. Therefore, the rule evaluates and advances the interests of the beneficiaries as distinguished from all lessees.

Responses to Specific Issues Raised in the NPRM Comments

1. How do claims concerning the United States occupation of the Hawaiian Islands impact the rule?

Issue: Multiple commenters who objected to Federal rulemaking based their objections on the assertion that the United States violated and continues to violate international law by illegally occupying the Hawaiian Islands and thus is without jurisdiction on the Islands.

Response: The Department is an agency of the United States. The Secretary's authority to issue this rule derives from the United States Constitution and from Acts of Congress, and the Secretary's authority is confined within that structure. The Secretary is bound by Congressional enactments concerning the status of Hawai'i. Under those enactments and under the United States Constitution, Hawai'i is a State of the United States of America.

In 1893, a United States officer, acting without authorization of the U.S. government, conspired with residents of Hawai'i to overthrow the Kingdom of Hawaii. In the years following the 1893 overthrow, Congress annexed the Territory of Hawai'i and established a government for the Territory of Hawai'i. See, Joint Resolution to Provide for Annexing the Hawaiian Islands to the United States, 30 Stat. 750 (1898); Act of Apr. 30, 1900, 31 Stat. 141. In 1959, Congress admitted Hawai'i to the Union as the 50th State. In 1993, Congress, through a joint resolution, apologized to Native Hawaiians for the overthrow and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination, and expressed its support for reconciliation efforts with Native Hawaiians. Joint Resolution of November 23, 1993, 107 Stat. 1510, 1513 (commonly known as the "Apology Resolution").

The Apology Resolution, however, did not effectuate any changes to existing law. See, Hawai'i v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 556 U.S. 163, 175 (2009). Thus, the Admission Act established the current status of the State of Hawai'i. The Admission Act proclaimed in section 1 that "the State of Hawai'i is hereby declared to be a State of the United States of America, [and] is declared admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the other States in all respects whatever." The Admission Act was consented to by the people of Hawai'i through an election held on June 27, 1959. The comments in response to the NPRM that call into question the legitimacy of the State of Hawai'i are inconsistent with the express determination of Congress, which is binding on the Department.

2. Is the definition of a beneficiary of the HHCA consistent with the requirements of Federal law?

Issue: Commenters questioned the Secretary's constitutional authority to promulgate rules for the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, arguing that Congress's definition of a Native Hawaiian beneficiary is race-based because its use of a "blood quantum" violates the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.

Response: The Federal Government has broad authority to regulate with respect to Native American communities. See, U.S. Const. art. I, sec. 8, cl. 3 (Commerce Clause); U.S. Const. art. II, sec. 2, cl. 2 (Treaty Clause); Morton v. Mancari, 417 U.S. at 551-52 ("The plenary power of Congress to deal with the special problems of Indians is drawn both explicitly and implicitly from the Constitution itself."). In the case of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, Congress specifically chose to use a 50 percent blood quantum requirement for all beneficiaries of the HHCA rather than a 1/32 blood quantum in order to make the bill more distinctly a Hawaiian rehabilitation scheme. Proposed Amendments to the Organic Act of the Territory of Hawai'i: Hearings on H.R. 7257 Before the House Comm. On the Territories, 66th Cong. 15 (1921). Acknowledging that the United States implemented similar rehabilitation programs for Indians because the government took away their lands without payment and violated treaties, Congressman Charles Curry, Chairman of the Committee on the Territories, said that it should be constitutional to do the same for the Hawaiians whose land had been taken away from them and noted that the Committee received opinions supporting the constitutionality of the proposed legislation from the Attorney General of Hawai'i and the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior. Id. at 141-142. Blood quantum reflects ties to the Native Hawaiian political community, as individuals marry within it. Id. at 140. And, as Congress explained, Congress "does not extend services to Native Hawaiians because of their race, but because of their unique status as the indigenous peoples of a once sovereign nation as to whom the United States has established a trust relationship." 114 Stat. 2968 (2000) (Hawaiian Homelands Homeownership Act).

3. Is the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act still Federal Law?

Issue: Commenters questioned whether the HHCA remains a Federal law, presuming that the passage of the Admission Act repealed it.

Response: Yes, the HHCA remains a Federal law. As explained in more detail above under "Background,", in compliance with the Admission Act, and as a compact between the State and the United States relating to the management and disposition of the Hawaiian home lands, the State adopted the HHCA, as amended, as a law of the State through Article XII of its Constitution as a condition of its admission in 1959. The HHCA is a cooperative federalism statute, a compound of interdependent Federal and State law that establishes a Federal law framework but also provides for implementation through State law.

Furthermore, consistent with the provisions of the HHCA and the Admission Act, the HHLRA provides that the Secretary shall determine whether a proposed amendment to the HHCA requires the consent of the United States under section 4 of the Admission Act. It is appropriately the function of the United States to ensure conformance with the limitations in the Admission Act and protect the integrity of this statutory framework.

The HHLRA also clarified the role of the Secretary in the oversight of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. Section 204(a)(3) of the HHCA, in conjunction with section 205 of the HHLRA, requires the approval or disapproval of the Secretary for the exchange of Hawaiian home lands. The HHLRA details the Secretary's responsibilities to ensure that the administration of Hawaiian Home Lands Trust advances the interests of the beneficiaries.

The HHLRA thus confirms the continuing role of the Secretary in implementing the HHCA and defines the scope of the continuing responsibilities of the Federal Government related to approval of land exchanges of Hawaiian home lands and state-proposed amendments to the HHCA.

4. Is the Secretary's interpretation of the term "rehabilitation" as including political, cultural and social reorganization correct?

Response: The meaning of the term "rehabilitation" under the HHCA was provided for background purposes in the proposed rule, and resulted in a number of comments. We now clarify the Department's position.

The Secretary's interpretation of the term "rehabilitation" to include political, cultural, and social reorganization is consistent with both the statutory text and legislative history of HHCA. The term "rehabilitation" was added to the HHCA through the 1978 amendments to the Hawaiian Constitution. Section 213(i) of the HHCA, as amended, creates a "rehabilitation fund" that can be used for "the rehabilitation of native Hawaiians" including "educational, economic, political, social, and cultural processes." Congress consented to this language through a joint resolution approved October 27, 1986, thereby amending the HHCA. 100 Stat. 3143. The purposes and goals of the rehabilitation fund are congressionally identified as some of the purposes and goals of the HHCA.

Furthermore, the legislative history of the HHCA indicates that the bill's purpose was to protect the welfare of the Native Hawaiian people. See, 67 Cong. Rec. 3263 (1921) (statement of Rep. Almon). Methods to achieve that purpose included revitalizing the "mode of living" of Native Hawaiians from prior generations. See, Rehabilitation and Colonization of Hawaiians and Other Proposed Amendments to the Organic Act of the Territory of Hawai'i: Before the House Comm. on the Territories, 66th Cong 4 (1920) (quoting Sen. John H. Wise's testimony before the Territorial Legislature that: "[t]he Hawaiian people are a farming people and fishermen, out-of-door people, and [being] frozen out of their lands. . . . is one of the reasons why the Hawaiian people are dying. Now, the only way to save them, I contend, is to take them back to the lands and give them the mode of living that their ancestors were accustomed to and in that way rehabilitate them.").

In 1982 the Secretary and the Governor of Hawai'i created a task force whose purpose was to consider how to better effectuate the purposes of the HHCA. Federal-State Task Force on the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act Report to the Secretary of the Interior and the Governor of the State of Hawai'i, Honolulu, Hawai'i, August 1983, pp. 4, 8. That task force found that the term "rehabilitation" "implies that traditional and cultural practices of native beneficiaries, to the extent not precluded by law, should be respected and acknowledged by the DHHL in order to enable native beneficiaries to return to their lands and to provide for their self-sufficiency and initiative and for the preservation of their culture." Id. at 55. Thus, the term "rehabilitation" has been consistently interpreted in ways that support the development of the Hawaiian community itself. The Secretary's interpretation of the term "rehabilitation" to include political, cultural, and social reorganization is consistent with the statutory language, congressional intent, and longstanding interpretation of the HHCA.

The funds Congress provided for in the HHCA represent factors that Congress identified as some of the purposes and goals of the HHCA. These purposes and goals guide the Secretary's review in determining whether a proposal advances the interests of the beneficiaries. Section 48.25 has been modified in response to these comments.

5. Should leaseholds to beneficiaries be converted to fee simple allocations of land?

Issue: Commenters recommend a path that would convert HHCA leaseholders into the outright owners of their leasehold property.

Response: Allowing for the conversion of leaseholds into fee simple ownership of Hawaiian home lands properties, which resembles the allotment process that was repudiated by Congress in 1934, is prohibited by current Federal law and is not within the scope of the rule.

6. Does the State of Hawai'i have the ability to amend the HHCA?

Issue: Commenters allege that the State has no ability to amend the HHCA through the process outlined in the Admission Act because it remains a Federal law.

Response: The HHCA is a cooperative federalism statute, a compound of interdependent Federal and State law that establishes a Federal law framework but also provides for implementation through State law. The Admission Act provided that the State could amend certain provisions of the HHCA but expressly limited the State's authority. The HHLRA provides further clarification, providing that the Secretary shall determine whether a State-proposed amendment to the HHCA requires the consent or approval of Congress under section 4 of the Admission Act. If the State-proposed amendment is found not to require the approval of the United States, the rule provides that the effective date of the State-proposed amendment is the date of the Secretary's notification letter to the Congressional Committee Chairmen that Congressional approval was not required. It is appropriately the function of the United States to ensure conformity with the limitations in the Admission Act and protect the integrity of this Federal statutory framework.

7. Do parts 47 and 48 create an administrative burden that would make it more difficult for the State to move forward with land exchanges or amendments to the HHCA that would benefit the Hawaiian home lands program?

Issue: Commenters stated that while it may be lawful for the Secretary to engage in rulemaking, administrative requirements and criteria may constrain state officials and make it more difficult for them to proceed with land exchanges or amendments to the HHCA that they consider beneficial to the program.

Response: The three main Hawaiian Home Lands Trust statutes (the HHCA, the Admission Act, and the HHLRA) establish a trust relationship and grant the Secretary authority to protect and advance the interests of the beneficiaries. Section 206 of the HHLRA charges the Secretary with advancing the interests of the beneficiaries in administering the HHCA. Parts 47 and 48 will assist the Secretary in carrying out this responsibility and make the Secretary's actions more transparent to the public. Similarly, the rule will assist the State in understanding what information the Secretary considers necessary in order to evaluate the proposed actions. As evidenced by the fact that the HHLRA requires the Secretary to approve or disapprove all land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands and to review all proposed amendments to the HHCA proposed by the State, Congress not only recognized the benefit of an independent Federal determination that the proposal advances the interests of the beneficiaries, but also recognized that the interests of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust and its beneficiaries may not always coincide with the interests of the State and their overall program. Congress prioritized the interests of the beneficiaries and in doing so circumscribed the day-to-day administration of the Trust by the State, notwithstanding benefits to other State goals.

8. Should a federalism assessment be performed for this rule?

Issue: One commenter suggests that the rule has sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment in accordance with Executive Order 13132.

Response: No. While the HHCA, the Admission Act, and the HHLRA, limit what the State can do in administering the Trust, 43 CFR parts 47 and 48 merely provide a path for administering those Federal laws within the original limited delegation to the State in the Admission Act; thus, no federalism assessment needs to be performed. Recognizing the direct effect the three statutes have on the State and the benefits of working with the State to protect the beneficiaries and the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, the Department held high level discussions with State officials as early as 2011 that resulted in this rulemaking to formalize the process for review of land exchanges and State proposed amendments to the HHCA.

As discussed above, the statutory framework of the HHCA, the Admission Act, and the HHLRA result in a compound of interdependent Federal and State law. Those laws undoubtedly have federalism implications. This rule, however, does not. In accordance with E.O. 13132, rules or policies have federalism implications if they "have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government." Parts 47 and 48 have none of those effects. The rule merely formalizes the process the Secretary will use in reviewing and approving land exchanges and in reviewing proposed amendments to the HHCA under existing law, and clarifies the documentation that the HHC Chairman, an officer of the State of Hawai'i, must submit to implement existing law. The relationship between the State and the Secretary is unchanged by this rule. We expect the HHC Chairman will continue to submit proposed land exchanges and proposed amendments to the Secretary as it has since passage of the HHRLA. The distribution of power and responsibilities remains unchanged; the respective decision making authority of the Secretary and State are limited by section 4 of the Admission Act and sections 205 and 206 of the HHLRA. The only "direct effect" imposed on the State by this rule is the requirement to submit some additional documentation, which, given the level of documentation required and the frequency of submissions, does not rise to a "substantial direct effect." We therefore conclude that no federalism analysis is necessary.

9. Do parts 47 and 48 allow the Secretary to amend the HHCA?

Issue: Commenters suggest that parts 47 and 48 amend or allow the Secretary to amend the HHCA.

Response: The rule does not amend the HHCA. Parts 47 and 48 merely assist in the administration of the HHCA. One of the purposes of part 48 is, however, to provide clarity, consistent with Federal law, on what subjects under the HHCA the State may amend on its own and which subjects Congress must approve. Similarly, part 47 adds clarity to Federal review of land exchanges. This rulemaking process provided the public and all interested parties an opportunity to review and comment on the Department's existing process before it is replaced with a formalized one under this rule.

10. Should the Secretary monitor State legislation that poses a threat to the HHCA?A13MY0.

Issue: Commenters recommend that under part 48 the Secretary adequately monitor any legislation that would pose a threat to the HHCA.

Response: Section 204 of the HHLRA requires that the Chairman of the HHC submit for review by the Secretary and if required, congressional approval, all State enactments proposing to amend the HHCA. Any proposed amendments to any terms or provisions of the HHCA by the State should also specify that the proposed amendment seeks to amend the HHCA, which puts all persons on notice that the amendment needs review by the Secretary. Consistent with the Admission Act and HHCA, if Federal review finds that any State enactment impacts any of the factors in section48.20 of this rule, Congressional action is required before it has any effect on the provisions of the HHCA or administration of the Trust. It is the responsibility of the HHC Chairman to monitor the State's legislative activities and to obtain the required review by the Secretary if it is the State's intent to amend the HHCA.

Once the Department determines that Congress must approve a proposed amendment to the HHCA and the Department transmits the proposed amendment to Congress, there is no requirement that the Administration monitor or advocate its passage. The Administration may oppose an amendment that does not advance the interests of the HHCA beneficiaries.

11. Do State-proposed amendments to the HHCA require Congressional approval or consent?

Issue: A commenter suggests that Congressional consent and not approval is required for certain proposed amendments to the HHCA.

Response: Congress provided in section 4 of the Admission Act that certain amendments to the HHCA would require the consent of the United States. Congress also clarified in section 204 of the HHLRA that the consent of the United States is provided through the approval by Congress. Thus, approval is required.

Section 204(c)(1) also requires the Secretary to submit to Congress a draft joint resolution approving the proposed amendment. Section 397, Joint Resolutions, of Jefferson's Manual of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress, provides, with the exception of joint resolutions proposing amendments to the Constitution, all resolutions are sent to the President for approval and have the full force of law.

12. Does section47.50(a)(8)(i) authorize the State of Hawai'i to evict tenants from property being considered for a land exchange?

Issue: Multiple commenters expressed concern that section 47.50(a)(8)(i) authorizes the State to evict tenants from property being considered for a land exchange.

Response: Section 47.50(a)(8)(i) does not authorize the State or any other entity to evict tenants from property being considered for a land exchange. This provision asks that if a party to the exchange will evict a tenant from land being exchanged under separate legal authority, the party should provide the Secretary details of arrangements for the relocation of the tenants. The provision in section 47.50(a)(8)(i) does not expand or grant such authority. The provision in section 47.50(a)(8)(i) is almost identical to section 43 CFR 2201.1(c)(11) which applies to other Federal land exchanges. The purpose of both 43 CFR 2201.1(c)(11) and final rule 43 CFR 47.50(a)(8)(i) is to assist the Secretary in identifying all costs, both economic and social, to all persons directly affected by an exchange.

13. Should the definition of consultation in both parts 47 and 48 of this rule require face-to-face meetings with beneficiaries to be valid?

Issue: Commenters question whether consultation with beneficiaries without face-to-face meetings will allow for a sufficient opportunity to engage in dialogue with the beneficiaries, consider their views, and, where feasible, seek agreement with them.

Response: The definition of consultation in this rule provides a minimum requirement and is intended to give the Secretary, the HHC Chairman, as well as beneficiaries and interested parties, flexibility in the consultation process in order to efficiently and effectively engage beneficiaries and interested parties in informed consideration of proposed actions. Such actions may involve a wide spectrum of issues ranging from those that are singular, simple, and straight forward to those that are multi-faceted and complicated or complex. Such actions may also vary from those that are mandatory to others that allow greater discretion. Face-to-face meetings may be necessary under certain circumstances while other means of communications, including but not limited to letters delivered by the postal service, email, teleconferences, etc., may be just as effective in other circumstances.

One commenter suggested requiring face-to-face consultations with beneficiaries and lessees who live within a 50-mile radius of the existing Hawaiian home lands to be exchanged or received into the Trust. While the rationale for not requiring face-to-face consultations presented in the previous paragraph still holds true, the Secretary encourages the State to engage in face-to-face consultations, at a minimum, within a 50-mile radius. The beneficiaries who live within a 50-mile radius of a proposed exchange will likely have a great deal of information important in making a decision about an exchange that would assist the Department in its review.

The final rule modified the definition of consultation in response to these comments.

14. Does section47.45(a) impede the State's ability to engage in land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands?

Issue: Commenters raised the question whether section 47.45(a), which recommends the HHC Chairman and the other party seeking the exchange meet with the Department prior to finalizing an exchange, would hamper the progress of land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands.

Response: Section 47.45(a) is a suggested course of action and does not require pre-land exchange meetings. The Department finds, however, that getting all parties who are interested in a particular land exchange talking to one another can be extremely useful and time-saving. It is especially useful to have this type of pre-meeting to avoid the submission of a presumed final document that cannot be approved by the Department. The language of section 47.45(a) would leave it to the discretion of the HHC Chairman as to whether to engage in the pre-land exchange meeting. The meeting may be conducted via teleconferencing or web-conferencing rather than in-person.

15. Should section 47.65(b) clarify the circumstances under which the Secretary will consult with the beneficiaries when making a determination if a land exchange advances the interests of the beneficiaries?

Issue: Commenters suggest that it is unclear when and under what circumstances consultation might occur by the Secretary when reviewing a HHC Chairman-proposed land exchange.

Response: When reviewing a land exchange proposal submitted by the HHC Chairman, it is essential to the Secretary's decision-making process to have input from the beneficiary community about the effect the land exchange may have on the beneficiaries and the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. The reason for making consultation under section 47.65(b) permissive is that if the HHC Chairman has already consulted with the beneficiaries on the land exchange proposal that is before the Secretary, and records of this consultation provide the input that the Secretary seeks, then no further consultation by the Secretary may be necessary. If the HHC Chairman forgoes consultation on a land exchange or a proposed amendment to the HHCA, the Secretary may be required to consult directly with the beneficiaries in order to approve the exchange or to find that an amendment does not require Congressional approval.

Upon consideration of the comments, language similar to that in section 47.65(b) was inserted into section 48.20.

16. Should the term "consultation" be better defined?

Issue: Commenters suggested that there be greater clarity and formalization as to when the Secretary would seek such consultation, what such consultation would entail, and how beneficiary input will be taken into account in any decision making process.

Response: The Department agrees with this point and modified the definition of consultation in both parts 47 and 48 so that they are consistent with the definition used by Federal agencies when consulting with the Native Hawaiian community under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

17. Are the standards for the review of land exchanges sufficiently clear to protect the interests of the beneficiaries?

Issue: Commenters suggest the standards for review of land exchanges is not sufficient to guarantee the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust will be preserved.

Response: The definition of land exchanges in section 47.10 is based upon section 204 of the HHCA and the Secretary's experience with reviewing land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands and other properties throughout the United States. Exchanges can be a valuable tool for the HHCA Chairman in managing the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust and advancing the interests of the beneficiaries. Part 47 seeks to clarify the section 205 of HHLRA to ensure it is carried out in compliance with section 206 of the HHLRA that requires the Secretary, in administering the HHCA, to advance the interests of the beneficiaries. The protections provided by the HHCA, Admission Act, and HHLRA, along with the details laid out in part 47, allow the HHC Chairman to engage in land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands without endangering the Trust.

18. Should the definition of "market value" be amended to take into consideration such things as utility and cultural significance of the properties?

Issue: Commenters suggest that when there are multiple reasons for a land exchange to occur that the appraisals of the properties should take those reasons into account.

Response: The Secretary is authorized to approve a land exchange under section 204 of the HHCA if the property to be added to the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust is of "equal value" to the property leaving the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. The Secretary interprets this requirement to be referring to market value, similarly to the BLM land exchange regulations included in 43 CFR part 2200 that only consider the economic uses of the subject property. In order to approve the exchange, however, the Secretary must determine whether the proposed exchange advances the interests of the beneficiaries as required by section 206 of the HHLRA and as implemented in section 47.20 of this rule. At that point, the Secretary may take into account things such as the utility and cultural significance of the properties.

19. Should the Secretary ensure that the appreciation rate of any new property being proposed for inclusion in the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust be at least equal to the rate of return for the property proposed to leave the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust?

Issue: A commenter suggests that an appreciation rate of any new property being proposed for inclusion in the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust be at least equal to the rate of return for the trust property proposed to leave the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. The example given by the commenter is that the return on the generation of electricity on a current trust property and the revenue it can potentially generate is more important than its present cash value of the property.

Response: The definition of market value used in this rule requires that the estimate of value be made in terms of cash or its equivalent. The appreciation rate and rate of return reflect future income potential, of the properties being considered in an exchange and will be considered in the appraisal of a property if the highest and best use of the property is for generating income. Properties considered for exchange will be valued at their highest and best use as required by UASFLA for market value appraisals. The income capitalization approach, which is required to be completed on income producing properties under UASFLA, requires the appraiser to analyze a property's ability to generate future benefits and capitalizes the income into an indication of present cash value. The result is that the market value of the property as of the date of appraisal takes into account future income and any appreciation by converting future benefits into a present cash value. If the two exchange properties have similar highest and best uses, similar capitalization rates would likely be used ensuring equal treatment of the properties under appraisal.

20. Should only Federal employees licensed in the State of Hawai'i be allowed to conduct appraisals of properties involved in an exchange involving Hawaiian home lands?

Issue: A commenter suggests only Federal employees licensed in the State of Hawai'i be allowed to conduct appraisals of properties involved in an exchange of Hawaiian home lands.

Response: The vast majority of Department's appraisals are completed by private contract appraisers under the direction of the Department. The review of those reports is done, however, exclusively by Federal employees. Requiring that appraisals be conducted by only Federal employees would place an unnecessary obstacle in the path of completing these land exchanges.

21. Should the Secretary include in 43 CFR part 47 a process that addresses section 205(c) of the HHLRA which authorizes the Secretary to initiate a land exchange involving Hawaiian home lands?

Issue: Commenters suggest 43 CFR part 47 include a process that addresses section 205(c) of the HHLRA which authorizes the Secretary to initiate a land exchange involving Hawaiian home lands.

Response: In this rule, the Department did not include procedures governing land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands initiated by the Secretary, but chose to address the primary way in which land exchanges are currently initiated. The Department is unaware of any land exchange involving Hawaiian home lands being initiated or proposed to be initiated by the Secretary. Thus, the need to address such an exchange through rulemaking is not necessary. Should the Secretary decide to engage in a land exchange involving Hawaiian home lands under the authority of section 205(c) and (d), we will consider then what process is required and if a rule is warranted.

22. Should the factors listed in section 47.20 include "reduce the diversion of staff resources dedicated to deriving revenues from land dispositions to fund the DHHL's administrative and operating expenses"?

Response: It is unnecessary to specifically insert the suggested language as it is encompassed within section 47.20(i).

23. After approving or disapproving a proposed amendment to the HHCA, should the Secretary provide an email notice to the Native Hawaiian Organization List maintained by the Secretary and post on the Department of the Interior's Web site?

Response: The Secretary does not approve or disapprove proposed amendments to the HHCA but merely reviews proposed amendments to determine if Congressional approval is required. Following the required review, the Secretary will post notice of the determination on the Department of the Interior Web site.

24. Should the Secretary review and provide rulings to Congress and the HHC Chairman on State-proposed amendments to the HHCA that in accordance with their own provisions require Congressional approval to become effective?

Issue: The State will sometimes pass legislation that proposes to amend the HHCA but is expressly contingent on approval by Congress.

Response: When the State passes legislation that proposes to amend the HHCA but includes a provision that the effectiveness of the proposed amendment is contingent on approval by Congress, no proposal to amend the HHCA was made for purposes of section 206 of the HHLRA. In circumstances such as these, the State is merely taking on a general advisory role and providing advice to Congress on what Federal laws they should pass. Congress may consider the proposed amendment offered by the State of Hawai'i and this does not require a review under section 206 of HHLRA.

25. Is it the responsibility of DHHL and the HHC to determine whether proposed land exchanges are appropriate for the Hawaiian people?

Response: In accordance with section 205(b) of the HHLRA, "the Secretary shall approve or disapprove the proposed exchange" submitted by the HHC Chairman. While the Chairman may propose an exchange, the ultimate responsibility for determining the appropriateness of the proposed exchange remains with the Secretary.

26. Are the factors the Secretary will consider in analyzing a land exchange listed in section 47.20 too restrictive to allow for the proper use of the land exchange tool by the HHC Chairman?

Issue: A commenter suggests that the rule relies solely on the language listed in section 204(3) of the HHCA, which provides for an exchange of equal value "to consolidate its holdings or to better effectuate the purposes of the HHCA."

Response: Section 206 of the HHLRA requires that the Secretary "advance the interest of the beneficiaries" in administering the HHCA. Implementation of this provision is consistent with the purposes of section 204(a)(3) of the HHCA, which is to advance the interest of its beneficiaries when managing the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. Section 47.20 articulates factors that are consistent with the purposes of the HHCA and with advancing the interest of the beneficiaries to provide transparency in the Secretary's decision making process. Section 47.20 of the rule implements both statutes in a consistent manner and utilizes the Secretary's expertise in reviewing land exchanges involving trust lands held for other U.S. indigenous communities.

27. Should the factors the Secretary will consider in analyzing a land exchange listed in section 47.20 be expanded to include such things as the development of Hawaiian home lands for mercantile use and to protect ecological and cultural resources?

Response: Section 47.20 specifies that the main purpose of engaging in a land exchange must be to advance the interests of the beneficiaries as provided in section 206 of the HHLRA. Accordingly, it lists the factors the Secretary will consider in analyzing a land exchange. These factors themselves are purposefully broad to allow flexibility in the analysis.

Moreover, in order for the exchange to be approved, the purpose of the land exchange must be well documented and demonstrate how the land exchange advances the interests of the beneficiaries. For instance, it would be insufficient under the rule for the party proposing the exchange to make only a conclusory statement that the exchange advances the interests of the beneficiaries without further explanation. Sections 47.20 and 47.30 provide the necessary information for the Secretary to make a reasoned decision to approve or disapprove a proposed land exchange.

28. Should there be a requirement that land exchanges not increase or decrease the acreage in the Trust in order to keep it whole?

Response: While acreage is an important aspect of determining the market value of properties involved in a land exchange, it is not the exclusive determining factor. For example, 50 acres of heavily sloped rocky land will likely not be as valuable as a smaller number of acres of usable farm land or other more readily developable acres. Therefore, the HHCA requires that the exchange be of equal value, not that the acreage be the same. The Secretary needs to ensure the market value of the property coming into the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust is equal to or greater than the property leaving the trust as required by section 204(c) of the HHCA, rather than rely on identical acreages.

29. Should the rule provide a more defined role for the Hawaiian Homes Commission in the review of land exchanges and amendments to the HHCA?

Issue: Commenters suggest that the rule specifically recognize the role of the HHC because of its fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the HHCA.

Response: Section 202 of the HHCA provides that the DHHL be headed by an executive board known as the HHC. The HHC and its Chairman are appointed by the Governor of the State of Hawai'i. The Chairman of the HHC is also the Director of DHHL and an Officer of the State of Hawaii. As officers of the State who are placed in their positions as Hawaiian Homes Commissioners to oversee the day-to-day management of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, the Secretary values their input. In response to comments, section 47.60(a)(1) now requires a statement of approval for a land exchange from the HHC, including the Commissioners' recorded vote on the exchange, and section48.15(b)(2) requires that all testimony and correspondence from the HHC and its Commissioners related to proposed amendments be submitted to the Secretary in order to better inform the Secretary's review of proposed amendments to the HHCA. In addition, the rule now specifically references the Chairman of the HHC as submitting the State-proposed amendments to the HHCA and Chairman-proposed land exchanges to the Secretary to conform to the language in sections 204(a) and 205(a) of the HHLRA.

30. In addition to requiring the submission of homestead association testimony and correspondence regarding proposed amendments to the HHCA, should section 48.15 also require the same documents from beneficiary associations whose membership is composed of persons who have submitted applications to the State for homesteads but are currently awaiting the assignment of a lot?

Response: The Department appreciates the question. It is important for the Secretary to obtain the input of beneficiaries who are on the State's homestead waiting list as their priorities may diverge from the priorities of those beneficiaries who hold a homestead lease. Therefore, new definitions of HHCA Beneficiary Association and of Homestead Association are included in the rule and are referenced in section 48.15(b)(2), and beneficiaries are added to section 48.15(b)(2).

31. Should the definition of "beneficiary" include those Native Hawaiians with a blood quantum of more than 25 percent but less than 50 percent who qualify to receive a homestead through transfer or succession?

Response: Section 202 of the HHLRA states "the term `beneficiary' has the same meaning as given the term `native Hawaiian' under section 201(7) of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act." Section 201(7) of the HHCA states, "Native Hawaiian means any descendant of not less than one-half part of the blood of the races inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands previous to 1778." Changing the definition of "beneficiary" to include those Native Hawaiians with a blood quantum of at least 25 percent but less than 50 percent who received a homestead through transfer or succession is not consistent with the HHLRA and HHCA and would require Congressional action.

32. Will the rule assist in meeting the Congressional deadlines for the review of State- proposed amendments to the HHCA and HHC Chairman-proposed land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands?

Response: In order to provide a rational basis for decisions regarding land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands and proposed amendments to the HHCA, the Secretary requires sufficient information on which to base those decisions. This rule details what information the Department requires to make an informed decision. The intention of the rule is to reduce the amount of time the Department takes to make an informed decision by providing clarity on the information necessary from the State about proposed land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands or proposed amendments to the HHCA.

Editor's note: For the full-text of this document, click this link or copy it into your browser: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/13/2016-11146/land-exchange-procedures-and-procedures-to-amend-the-hawaiian-homes-commission-act-1920.

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