2014 Legislative Wrap-up & the OHA Primary Election

`Ano`ai kakou… We were deeply disappointed with the state legislature this year when they failed to pass Senate Bill 3122, which would have allowed residential development on three of OHA’s Kaka‘ako Makai properties. SB3122 would have added significant value to our properties and provided much needed revenue for our Nation.

Because of opposition from the “Save Our Kakaako” groups, theState House, led by Representative Scott Saiki, killed our bill. OHA wanted to increase our building height limit in order to allow for more middle income condos. Our plan was to build a Hawaiian sense of place and community allowing for open space and ease of access to the waterfront. However, the Save Our Kakaako groups fought against our plan, saying that they were against the building of any kind of housing.

What they didn’t understand was that, under the present law, OHA could exceed its height limitations if we built “commercial” buildings. By developing commercial buildings, OHA’s footprint across its Kakaako lands would be larger and it would not leave enough open space for any kind of community access.

It is tragic that when members of certain groups are allowed to influence decisions that will affect millions of people in a very negative way for many generations to come. Why is it that vocal minorities always seem to prevail over the majority of folks? In any case, OHA will now proceed with the development of a Master Plan for our Kakaako lands.


For the first time in OHA’s 30-year history, the general public will get to vote in a Primary Election for OHA Trustees. Since more than seven candidates have signed-up for the three seats in the at-Large OHA race (as of late-April) we will need to have an OHA Primary Election to bring that number down to six for the General Election. Candidates running for OHA seats will now have to spend a lot more money to win their statewide elections.


I encourage all OHA voters to consider Permanent Absentee Voting, which allows registered voters to receive their ballots by mail permanently for future elections. As a permanent absentee mail voter, you will no longer have to apply for future elections. A ballot will automatically be mailed to you for each election in which you are eligible to vote.


You must be a registered voter in order to receive your absentee ballots permanently. Applications for Permanent Absentee Ballots (known as the Wikiwiki Voter Registration & Permanent Absentee form) are available at the following locations:

  • City/County Clerk’s Offices
  • Hawaii State Libraries
  • Office of Election’s website: www.hawaii.gov/elections
  • Satellite City Halls
  • U.S. Post Offices

Submit your completed application directly to the Office of your City/County Clerk no later than 7 days before the election. Permanent Absentee Applications will be accepted until:

2014 Primary Election:       Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 General Election:       Tuesday, October 28, 2014

If you have any questions, please call the Office of Elections at (808) 453-VOTE (8683).

2014 will bring the first OHA Primary Election

`Ano`ai kakou… During the 2013 legislative session, Senate Bill 3 was signed into law as Act 287. The new law established Primary elections for OHA Trustees, beginning with the 2014 elections.

Since this will be the first time in OHA’s 30-year history that the general public will vote in a Primary Election for OHA Trustees, I became very concerned about whether OHA voters might get confused.

Late last year, I wrote a letter to the State’s Chief Election Officer asking him about his preparations. With less than 7 months before the Primary Election on August 9, 2014, I explained to him that I am deeply concerned that I haven’t witnessed any serious efforts by the Office of Elections to educate the public. They should already be placing public service announcements in the media to properly familiarize everyone regarding the new OHA voting process.

According to the new law whether or not OHA will need a Primary Election depends on how many candidates sign up. For example, in the case of OHA’s Three At-Large Seats without a Residency Requirement:

(1) If there are only three or less candidates that sign up for the three seats, the Chief Election Officer will declare those candidates to be legally elected and their names won’t appear on the primary or general election ballot;

(2) If four, five, or six candidates sign up for the three seats, the Chief Election Officer will automatically put their names on the general election ballot and they won’t appear on the primary election ballot; and

(3) However, if seven or more candidates sign up for the three seats, their names will be listed on the Primary Election ballot. The names of the top six candidates receiving the highest number of total votes in the Primary Election will be placed on the General Election ballot.

Also, if any candidate receives more than 50% of the total votes cast for the Primary election, the Chief Election Officer will declare that candidate to be legally elected and the name of that candidate won’t appear on the General Election ballot.

As most of us can remember, we were all very disappointed about the lack of ballots during the 2012 General Election. The Office of Elections has assured me (in a response letter) that, for the 2014 Elections, they will be printing a ballot for each registered voter. However, based on their past performance, I am not very confident that something else won’t go wrong. I am hoping that the Office of Elections will do their jobs meticulously and not leave anything to chance.

I believe that publishing a sample ballot to show the public exactly where to find the OHA candidates (because this is new) on the Primary Election ballot would go a long way to lessen any confusing over the new voting procedure and will help potential candidates to feel more secure about the process. Otherwise, there will surely be challenges to the OHA elections by losing candidates which will prevent elected candidates from taking office.

If you vote in the OHA elections and you too have concerns, please write to the Office of Elections, State of Hawaii at 802 Lehua Avenue, Pearl City, 96782. You may also call (808) 453-VOTE (8683) to voice your concerns. Mahalo nui.

Legislative Update (May 2013)

`Ano`ai kakou…  The legislature is about ready to wrap things up.  Here are some important legislation affecting Native Hawaiians that are still alive:


OHA submitted House and Senate concurrent resolutions to recognize kuleana lands as historical lands and urge the counties to support efforts to promote continued ancestral ownership of kuleana lands.

The House version (HCR5) passed out of its first committee hearing and is waiting to be heard in the House Finance committee.  The Senate version (SCR1) has not been scheduled for a hearing yet.  Both need to be heard before an April 12th deadline.  Last year, Senator Malama Solomon introduced this resolution as a personal favor to me.  This year, her Senate committee has killed the resolution by declining to schedule a hearing for it.  One has to wonder why someone who supported the resolution last year would now refuse to hear it.


On March 8th, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means asked OHA to comment on the cuts to our budget bill (HB 222) by the House Finance Committee.  We let them know that we understand today’s economic situation doesn’t make it easy to decide how to the fund every State agencies.  Therefore, we didn’t oppose the proposed decreases at this time but we did urge the committee to restore OHA’s original request.

Some of the more serious decreases include cutting $268,860 over two years for educational enrichment programs.  This will probably mean that 269 less Native Hawaiian students will be receiving educational services.  Health improvement programs were cut $1,100,000, which may mean 960 less Native Hawaiians receiving Health obesity services and 1,030 less pregnant Native Hawaiian women receiving prenatal services.

HB 222 passed the Senate Ways and Means committee with amendments on April 1st, and all of the funds that were cut were restored.  The House now has to decide if they agree or disagree with the Senate amendments.


SB 3 proposes to establish a nonpartisan primary and general elections for OHA Trustees beginning with the 2014 elections.  On March 27th, OHA Trustees took a position opposing this measure.  On March 28th, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill with technical amendments.  The Senate now has to decide if they agree or disagree with the House amendments.


HB 252 would require the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, in cooperation with OHA, to submit annual reports to the Governor and the Legislature on the status of the preparation of a roll, expenditures, and any other concerns or recommendations.  It amends the definition of “qualified Native Hawaiian” to include individuals who meet the ancestry requirements of Kamehameha Schools and OHA.  It also repeals the directive in Act 195 to amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.  Senate Committee Chairs Clayton Hee and Brickwood Galuteria amended the bill by:

(1) Deleting the requirement that the Native Hawaiian Roll remain confidential;

(2) Clarifying that all individuals already registered with the State as verified Hawaiians or Native Hawaiians through OHA are included in the Native Hawaiian Roll and extending to those individuals all rights and recognitions conferred upon other members of the roll;

(3) Inserting language to promote renewable energy in Hawaii; and

(4) Inserting an effective date of July 1, 2013;

Aloha Ke Akua.