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Thursday, February 25, 2010
Statements: Abercrombie, Hanabusa back new Akaka Bill over Governor’s objections
By News Release @ 12:58 PM :: 8672 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics

Hanabusa congratulates Abercrombie, Akaka makes no mention of Governor’s opposition
First Congressional District candidate Colleen Hanabusa praised the U.S. House of Representatives today for approving H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009.

I congratulate both U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono for showing the leadership necessary to move this important piece of legislation through the U.S. House,” Hanabusa said. “I especially want to send my warmest aloha to Congressman Abercrombie for his tireless advocacy in championing this measure for several years. The accolades he received from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other colleagues on the House floor today are well-deserved.

The bill, also known as the Akaka Bill for its author U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, would set up a process to form a Native Hawaiian governing entity that could negotiate with the state and federal government on behalf of Hawaii's indigenous people. This is the same political and legal relationship that Alaska Natives and Native American Indians currently hold.

I have long supported federal recognition of Native Hawaiians and will continue to do what I can both as Senate President and as a member of Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation to move that forward.

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Abercrombie: Native Hawaiians Should Be Treated as Indian Tribe
Floor Speech By Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) re: H.R. 2314 on 2/23/2010

Today, the House will be considering HR 2314 on the House Floor. The purpose of this legislation is to establish a process by which Native Hawaiians can have a government-to-government relationship with the United States, the same relationship that Native American tribes and Alaska Natives have.

When HR 2314 had hearings in the House and Senate in the summer of 2009, Native Hawaiian organizations in Hawaii called for changes in the bill. As introduced, HR 2314 vests no power in the Native Hawaiian governing entity upon recognition, they would not have been able to do simple things such as provide for the welfare of their children or the healthcare of its members.

The substitute amendment that my boss will offer today ensures the Native Hawaiian governing entity will have the SAME POWERS AND AUTHORITIES THAT OTHER TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS EXERCISE TODAY.

There are limitations on these powers because the Native Hawaiian governing entity will have no land upon its recognition but the powers that they will be able to exercise are based on hundreds of years of federal Indian law.

In addition, the Native Hawaiian government would also have sovereign immunity- THE SAME AS OTHER NATIVE GOVERNMENTS. Limitations on that sovereign immunity are spelled out in the substitute amendment to end uncertainty and deter litigation. Moreover, this is not a new provision. Under the bill considered last Congress, the Native Hawaiian governing entity would also have had sovereign immunity once it is federally recognized.

The State of Hawaii is unwilling to accept a Native Hawaiian government that has the same powers and sovereign immunity as other tribes.

As a result, Governor Lingle is opposing the substitute amendment. The Hawaii Congressional delegation feels strongly that this substitute amendment treats the Native Hawaiian entity as any other native government and follows existing Indian law. Limiting its powers or sovereign immunity not only goes against existing case law, it sets a bad precedent for future Indian bills that Congress may consider.

Moreover, this bill and the substitute amendment continue to be supported by the National Congress of American Indians and the Alaska Federation of Natives and well as other tribal organizations. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Wendy Clerinx at 50007 or Amy Asselbaye at 52726.

I urge you to follow the hundreds of years of federal Indian law and support the Abercrombie substitute amendment to HR 2314 and final passage of this bill.

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Akaka Bill Passed by the U.S. House: Report from U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's Office

(WASHINGTON, DC) - Representative Neil Abercrombie announced this afternoon that the House of Representatives has approved the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganizing Act of 2009, known in Hawaii as the Akaka Bill on a 245 - 164 vote. Abercrombie brought the legislation to the floor in his last week as a Member of Congress.

“We have a president who truly understands the importance and fundamental equity of Native Hawaiian self-determination, and today’s vote demonstrates that Hawaii has good friends in Congress.” said Abercrombie. “If we work together to push open the door to a future of respect and dignity for Native Hawaiians, we create a better future for all the people in Hawaii.”

Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation worked extensively with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Interior on the details of this bill’s language to ensure that it met every test for constitutionality and legal precedent, followed by extensive consultations with the Hawaii Attorney General and representatives of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Abercrombie said he was particularly pleased that President Barack Obama has expressed his support for this legislation. A White House spokesperson said this afternoon, “The President recognizes that Native Hawaiians are a vital part of our nation's cultural fabric, and they will continue to be so in the years to come. He supports the Substitute Amendment to H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, as it adds important clarifications to craft a durable pathway forward.”

“The passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act is an important milestone for all the people of Hawaii,” said U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, the bill’s author. “We have a moral obligation, unfulfilled since the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, that we are closer to meeting today. I thank and congratulate Representatives Abercrombie and Hirono for their leadership and work to bring about today’s successful vote. Neil’s unwavering support for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians over the past decade is greatly appreciated. I am optimistic about bringing the bill to the Senate floor this year.”

“Though the Governor had some reservations, I am certain that the bill protects the interests of all the people in Hawaii. The bill passed today specifically says ‘members of the Native Hawaiian governing entity will continue to be subject to the civil and criminal jurisdiction of Federal and State courts.’ The native governing entity cannot regulate non-Hawaiians. The native governing entity will need to enter into negotiations with the State of Hawaii and the United States, and all three parties will want to be in good standing and comply with existing law. Any agreements on transfers of authority or land will require the approval of the state legislature.”

“The time to provide justice for Native Hawaiians is now. We are at the cusp of reaching a historic milestone in the history of our state and our country,” said Congresswoman Hirono. “I am disappointed in the Governor’s position and ask her to reconsider, especially as many Republicans cited her opposition as their justification to vote against the bill. The Native Hawaiian people have waited for far too long for the recognition process to begin.”

The President commended Congressman Abercrombie, Congresswoman Hirono, and Senators Akaka and Inouye for their leadership on this issue, and said he looks forward to signing the bill into law and establishing a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians.

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CNHA Supports Passage of Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act in D.C.

CNHA and its Native Hawaiian Policy Center will continue to engage members to support the NHGRA’s passage through the full Senate by delivering policy sessions on the Bill and other major priorities in Hawaiian communities, including affordable housing and renewable energy.

read more

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FOX: Bill to Grant Native Hawaiians Sovereignty Passes House

many say the bill's biggest impact lies in the amount of 'ceded' lands the state and federal government may be required to transfer to the new Hawaiian nation. About 1.8 million acres were 'ceded' when Hawaii became a state. Some of those lands are expected to be returned to the native Hawaiians under the Akaka bill.

Click here to see a map of the lands that would be transferred under the Akaka bill.

The other controversial element of the bill involves the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. It administers 160 programs worth tens of millions of dollars designed to benefit native Hawaiians.

However, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision in Rice v. Cayetano, these race-based programs are vulnerable to legal challenge and could be eliminated without protections of the Akaka bill.

This includes programs like ALU LIKE, Inc., an advocacy group for native Hawaiians, and Hui No Ke Ola Pono, one of five native Hawaiian health care systems.

Native Hawaiians would not be allowed to alter any federal or state law. However, they have the authority to govern prior to negotiations with the state.

Any new noncommercial government activities, services and programs run by Hawaiians would not be subject to state or county regulation -- a change from the bill's original version.

read more

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HERITAGE: A Separate, Race-Based Government for Native Hawaiians?

Notably, Gov. Lingle reversed course after more than seven years of support for the Act (also known as “the Akaka Bill”), citing recent amendments to the legislation she says aren’t in the best interest of Hawaiians:

The basic problem as I see it, is that in the current version of the bill, the ‘governmental’ (non-commercial) activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity, its employees, and its officers, will be almost completely free from State and County regulation, including free from those laws and rules that protect the health and safety of Hawai‘i’s people, and protect the environment. ’Governmental’ activity is a broad undefined term that can encompass almost any non-commercial activity.

“This structure will, in my opinion, promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution.

read more

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WSJ: The Two-State Solution

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it has been championed by four-term Hawaii Democrat Daniel Akaka. Only one Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is on record supporting any previous version of the bill. Governor Lingle's opposition may well have an impact on Ms. Murkowski's stance. If all 41 Republicans hold together, they may be able to block this pernicious legislation or at least force significant revisions.

read more

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RINO Frum Forum: A Conservative (sic) Vote for Hawaiian Freedom

UPDATE: Two months back, I argued in the below blogpost in favor of the “Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act”, a bill proposed by Senator Akaka which would restore certain rights to native Hawaiians. Now, the Senate has taken up the Akaka bill and it looks like it will pass. My friends at National Review Online can not imagine why it has not met with more resistance. The editors are not alone. Kevin Williamson raises the specter I dispelled of other ethnic groups suddenly getting sovereignty. I do not know whether any lawyers weighed in on those articles but certainly a great one, Shannen Coffin, wrote this around the time of my piece.

I think however that Shannen’s criticisms fail to grapple with the injustice of what went on here . . .  (And the Frum crowd fails to grasp the injustice to Native Hawaiians of making them into reservation Indians under the thumb of corrupt thieving trustees.  The writer also seems to think that the Rice v Cayetano decision somehow “took” the alii trusts.  No it only “took” OHA.  Duh.) 

read more

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NRO: Hawaii Bill: It's the Little Things that Matter   [Kevin D. Williamson]

So the native Hawaiians are moving toward setting up a separate government along explicitly racial lines. Wherever do these ideas come from? How do they take root? Here's a clue: Anybody remember how much President Clinton liked to apologize? And how those apologies were always explained away as symbolic, feel-good measures? Here’s a bit from the legislation moving through the House, citing the 1993 Hawaiian Apology Resolution, signed by President Clinton, in which the United States grovels for the sin of having helped depose the Hawaiian monarchy:

read more

NRO: Aloha Segregation

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GRASSROOT INSTITUTE OF HAWAII: Statement from President Jamie Story Upon U.S. House Passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Bill

For Immediate Release: February 22, 2010

From Jamie Story, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii:

“The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is disappointed that the House of Representatives passed this deeply unpopular bill that has created such division in our state. We are especially concerned that the majority of House members lacked the courage to put the Akaka bill up to a vote by all Hawaii citizens, as proposed in Rep. Doc Hastings’s amendment. Our own poll, conducted in November by Zogby International, demonstrated that 58 percent of likely Hawaii voters support putting the Akaka bill on the general election ballot, and only 28 percent oppose such a move.”

“In addition, we have always been concerned that many Hawaii residents are uninformed about the actual contents—and ramifications—of the proposed Akaka bill. For example, the recent Zogby poll found 32% uninformed about the Akaka bill. To combat that lack of knowledge, many of us have worked long and hard to highlight unintended consequences like higher taxes, loss of property values, expensive lawsuits, and tensions between native Hawaiians due to the Akaka bill’s “blood quantum” provisions. This indicates to us an urgent need for further education of Hawaii’s public, which we intend to do while continuing to call for Congressional Hearings in all of our counties.

“We would like to thank Governor Lingle for frankly expressing her concerns with the most recent version of the bill. We agree that Hawaii’s residents should not be subject to two different sets of rules as outlined in the Akaka bill, and we share her concern regarding the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity’s apparent immunity from lawsuits. These issues will threaten our system of governance, our economy, and our unity as a state.”

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an independent, non-partisan think tank based in Honolulu. The mission of the Grassroot Institute is to promote individual liberty, free market economic principles and limited, more accountable government.

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Conservative Concerns with H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2010
This afternoon the House is scheduled to vote on legislation that would give “native Hawaiians” essentially the same sovereignty rights as an Indian tribe

By House Conservative Caucus

This afternoon the House is scheduled to vote on legislation that would give “native Hawaiians” essentially the same sovereignty rights as an Indian tribe. This would, in effect, potentially grant upwards of 20% (400,000) of Hawaii’s population, that identify themselves as “native Hawaiian,” the ability to transfer lands, negotiate with other government entities, set their own criminal and civil jurisdictions, and be exempt from some taxation. Chairman Tom Price encourages RSC Members to vote against the bill.

Some conservatives have expressed the following concerns with H.R. 2314 (Note: this bill is different than similar legislation considered in 2007, H.R. 505):

Native Hawaiians Are Not a Tribe: Some conservatives believe native Hawaiians do not appear to meet either the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ seven current mandatory requirements or the Supreme Court’s own definition for recognition as an Indian tribe. They may be more accurately described as a racial group thanks to Hawaii’s long history of converging cultures and creeds. Hawaii is a “melting pot of races.”

Constitutionally Dubious: The explicit Constitutional authority that grants Congress the power to recognize tribes does not extend that authority to arbitrarily designate racial groups as an Indian tribe.

Gaming Gambit: While the bill text prohibits a native Hawaiian ruling entity from establishing a casino or gaming operation under federal law, H.R. 2314 leaves a significant loophole that could prevent the State of Hawaii from going to court to shut-down the illegal gaming operation. There have been Indian casinos operating without state-approved compacts in other areas of the nation, and only recourse is through legal action from the federal government – which has had a dubious record of enforcement in the past.

Thanks, but No Thanks: According to a November 2009 Zogby Poll, more than 50% of all Hawaiians oppose the legislation. In addition, Governor Lingle and Attorney General Bennett of the state of Hawaii are now opposed to the bill after supporting previous versions. They believe the changes to H.R. 2314 are “potentially enormous” and will “promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution.”

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