April 2011 KA WAI OLA COLUMN
`Ano`ai kakou… I was saddened that after months of thinking about his political future, Senator Daniel Akaka decided not to run for re-election in 2012 after serving in the U.S. Senate from 1990 to the present and 13 years previously in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Over the years, I have worked closely with Senator Akaka on important issues such as fighting for proper medical care of our Hawaii National Guardsmen while he was the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and I look forward to working with him over the next two years on Federal Recognition for Native Hawaiians now that he is the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Senator Akaka serves as the best example of how a lawmaker can get the job done with kindness and humility without having to resort to any political shenanigans or negativity. He will certainly be sorely missed in a Congress that is now more and more focused on being combative and polarizing.
Senator Akaka has been our strongest advocate in Congress and in 1993, working with Senator Daniel Inouye, he passed the Apology Resolution, where the United States officially apologized for its part in the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. I believe no one can represent the Hawaiian community as thoughtfully as Senator Akaka has and whoever prevails in 2012
will have some very big shoes to fill.
Senator Akaka deserves a great big MAHALO for his life long service to Hawaii. There is still much work to be accomplished over the next two years and I look forward to working closely with Senator Akaka to get them done.
Here is an update on important Native Hawaiian bills that are working their way through the legislature.
Senate Bill 1 (SB1), introduced by Senator Malama Solomon, was passed out of its final Senate Committees and will be crossing over to the House for consideration. This bill will address a long overdue formal recognition by the State of Hawaii of its indigenous people.
SB1520, introduced by Senator Clayton Hee, also passed out of its final Senate Committee and will be crossing over to the House. SB 1520 would establish procedures for state recognition of a first nation government similar to what is described in the
Akaka bill, but at the state level.
Past Due Ceded Lands Settlement
SB 984 & HB399, part of the OHA Package of bills, seeks to have the State resolve its long overdue debt to OHA resulting from public land trust revenues unpaid from 11/7/1978 to 7/1/2010. Both bills failed to make it out of its final committee before the crossover deadline and are now considered “dead” for this session. However, as anyone who has lobbied the legislature knows, there are ways to resurrect bills from the dead. The language of either SB984 or HB399 could be inserted into another bill that is still alive, resurrecting it. So there is still hope of a settlement in this legislative session. Another alternative is a concurrent resolution which is being considered as I write this column.
Aloha Ke Akua.