House District 13

Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Affordable housing bill passed in conference

In News Release, Photos on April 30, 2009 at 4:01 am
The Conference Committee reached an agreement on Senate Bill 1268 SD2 HD1 CD1 today.

The Conference Committee reached an agreement on Senate Bill 1268 SD2 HD1 CD1 today.

Honolulu. A bill that permits the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to assign or transfer county affordable housing credits passed conference today with amendments.

“Allowing the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to take part in the counties’ housing credit process will help to provide homes to the department’s 20,000 Native Hawaiian beneficiaries and at the same time help to alleviate the housing crisis during these difficult economic times,” said Rep. Mele Carroll, House Co-Chair of the Conference Committee and Chair of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs.

At a previous conference committee meeting, concerns were raised by the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting over the 60-day approval process of requests for tax credits by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Department of Planning and Permitting Director David Tanoue said in a letter to the Conference Committee: “Under the city’s affordable housing program, a credit is earned if the unit is sold or rented at an affordable price; the occupant – buyer or tenant – qualifies as a household within the affordable housing range; and, more importantly, the unit remains in this affordable housing program for ten years. Thus, for new housing, the City will have no choice but to deny the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ request within the mandated 60-day period.”

Today’s conference also resolved a disagreement between the Senate and House conferees over the time period that the bill takes effect, with both sides agreeing to a 6-year period.

The Conference Draft, Senate Bill 1268 SD2 HD1 CD1, removes the 60-day deadline for the approval process. The Conference Draft states that counties shall authorize and issue affordable housing credits to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands upon a request for the transfer or assignment of credits by the department. The credits shall be issued on a one-for one basis and applied within the same county in which the credits were earned to satisfy affordable housing obligations imposed by the county. The bill takes effect on June 1, 2009 and shall be repealed on June 30, 2015.

House Conferees were Co-Chairs Rep. Mele Carroll, Rep. Rida Cabanilla, and Rep. Roland Sagum III and members Rep. Pono Chong, Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, and Rep. Gene Ward.

Senate Conferees were Chair Sen. Clayton Hee, Co-Chairs Sen. Norman Sakamoto and Sen. J. Kalani English, and member Sen. Sam Slom.

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Native Hawaiian issues must remain at the forefront

In Mele in the News, Mele's Words on April 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

For Molokai Dispatch This Legislative Session has brought to the forefront many Hawaiian issues thanks in part to active participation by the community and an increasing effort to educate our lawmakers.

Last week, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Student Association collected 1,042 signatures of UH Hilo students urging the Hawai‘i State Legislature to pass a moratorium to prohibit the State and the Lingle Administration from selling “ceded lands.”

This legislative session also saw Hawai‘i’s commitment to ensuring taro security when the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs received over 500 testimonies in support of a bill to prohibit the development, testing, propagation, release, importation, planting or growing of genetically modified taro in the State of Hawai‘i.

As part of the Hawaiian Caucus Day celebration on March 24, 2009, an O‘ahu Taro Festival hosted by KAHEA and Na Kahu o Haloa in collaboration with the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus was held on the ground floor rotunda of the State Capitol. Hundreds arrived to watch taro farmers from throughout the state and participate in the largest unified gathering of Ku‘i Kalo to celebrate Hawai‘i’s living taro traditions.

In a floor presentation during session on the day of the Hawaiian Caucus Day event, I introduced House Resolution 292, which honors the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu’s 90th anniversary and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs’ 50th anniversary. For decades, these outstanding organizations have preserved Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi’s vision to help Hawai‘i’s young people secure an education that would enable them to compete successfully in the new cultural environment introduced to Hawaii in the 19th century. The Hawaiian Civic Clubs have generated thousands of dollars for higher education opportunities for Hawaiians while perpetuating Hawaiian formal elegance.

There are many other issues that I have taken on to address this session, such as: issuing a commemorative stamp honoring Prince Kuhio; requesting the University of Hawai‘i to meet with the Kanaka Maoli Council on its Sustainability Plan; developing a Kupuna honorary degree program; urging the counties to adopt measures that provide real property tax relief for Kuleana lands; supporting the discussions for a Hawaiian Constitutional Convention; requesting the Department of Human Services to determine the feasibility of increasing Foster Board Payment Rates; providing adequate funding for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands; urging the President of the United States to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; developing a plan to implement replicas of Hawaiian Hale on the State Capitol lawn; asking the University of Hawai‘i to study the feasibility of planting non-GMO kalo in the reflecting pool that surrounds the State Capitol Building; requesting the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to convene a working group to review the system and procedures for the review of Native Hawaiian burial sites; and requesting that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs contract with a nationally respected and objective consulting firm to conduct a study of disparate treatment of Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i’s criminal justice system.

The following bills that were referred to the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs that have made it through crossover, will now be deliberated in conference, where lawmakers will work out the differences between the House and Senate drafts as the session comes to a close. The following measures relating to Native Hawaiian issues that will go to conference are:

House Bill 899 – Clarifies and strengthens the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ bond authority
House Bill 900 – Appropriates funds for the operating budget of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
House Bill 1015 – Enables the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to begin construction on affordable housing projects without having the full and final amount of the capital costs on hand at the beginning of the project.
House Bill 1663 – Prohibits genetic modification of Hawaiian taro in Hawai‘i.
House Bill 1665 – Prohibits the sale of public lands on which government-owned fishponds are located.
Senate Bill 602 – Authorizes funds to support performing arts and restoration of works of art for Bishop Museum and ‘Iolani Palace.
Senate Bill 995 – Resolves claims and disputes relating to the portion of income and proceeds from the lands of the public land trust for use by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs between 1978 and 2008.
Senate Bill 1268 – Permits the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to assign or transfer county affordable housing credits.
Senate Bill 1677 – Requires majority vote of the House and Senate to disapprove the sale or exchange of state-held lands to non-state entities and requires community briefing prior to the sale or exchange.

It is my goal as the Chair of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs to bring to the forefront the many issues relating to native Hawaiians that have been shelved for years. Through our process we will continue to educate, bring awareness, participate in meaningful conversations as well as find solutions to the many unresolved concerns impacting native Hawaiians. It is time to work together, take action and get results. “A’ohe hana nui ka alu’ia.” “No task is too big when done together.” I’m ready for the task, let’s unite and stand together.

Resolutions urge for recognition of U.N. indigenous peoples declaration, honoring of Prince Kuhio, and a study of disparate treatment in Hawai‘i’s criminal justice system

In News Release, Photos on April 17, 2009 at 6:00 am

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Honolulu. The House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs, chaired by Rep. Mele Carroll, adopted three resolutions yesterday.

House Concurrent Resolution 27 requests that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs contract with a nationally respected and objective consulting firm to conduct a study of disparate treatment of Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i’s criminal justice system.

“It is essential that we take a closer look at the process so that we can understand why the disparity is the way it is and better address the needs of Native Hawaiians,” Rep. Mele Carroll said.

The resolution refers to studies based on data from the 2000 U.S. Census that Native Hawaiians are overrepresented in Hawai‘i’s prisons and jails, despite making up only 20 percent of the State’s population. The resolution also notes that Native Hawaiians make up forty-five percent of all parolees state-wide and are at the greatest risk of being re-arrested and returning to prison, while 60 percent of children who are placed in child protective services are of Native Hawaiian decent.

In testimony of support for House Concurrent Resolution 27, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs stated that Hawai‘i State policies may be racially biased and that a comprehensive study addressing the disparate treatment is much needed.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i testified in strong support of the resolution, saying that the recommended study will help lawmakers identify subjective, rather than objective, points of decision-making in law enforcement and that studying the reasons for the disparities will help to ensure that Hawai‘i’s criminal justice system operates in an even-handed manner. House Concurrent Resolution 27 was adopted with technical amendments.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 66 SD1 requests that the U.S. Postal Service issue a commemorative stamp honoring Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, who was elected Hawaii’s delegate to U.S. Congress in 1902 and held the post for 10 consecutive terms. Prince Kuhio endeavored to restore native Hawaiians’ pride in their race through education, political activism, and by re-organizing the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and forming the first Hawaiian Civic Club. Senate Concurrent Resolution 66 SD1 was adopted without amendments, with notes in the committee report acknowledging testimony received regarding concerns with the Americanization of Hawaiian culture and recognizing the visibility of a postage stamp as a way to educate the broader community about Prince Kuhio’s legacy. “As a postage stamp is so visible, this may encourage discussion about Prince Kuhio in our schools,” said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, Vice-chair of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs. “Many people didn’t know that he was the one who got the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands off the ground.”

Senate Concurrent Resolution 127 urges the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress to adopt the United Nations 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education, and other rights. Senate Concurrent Resolution 127 passed unamended.

“The indigenous Peoples all over the world are seeking freedom as a people in their homelands,” said Richard Pomaikaiokalani Kinney in supporting testimony of the resolution. “Freedom as a unique people with a very important culture that needs to be saved from further desecration and perpetuated for all mankind.”

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Senate draft of Budget Bill supports East Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe

In News Release on April 16, 2009 at 5:11 am

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Honolulu. The State Budget Bill, House Bill 200 HD1 SD1, passed the Senate this week with Capital Improvement Projects throughout East Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, and Kaho‘olawe, totaling over $38 million.

Now that House Bill 200 HD1 SD1 has been amended by the Senate, it will be heard in conference, where lawmakers will compare the differences between the House and Senate drafts of the budget as the session comes to a close.

“We need everyone’s support out there to call the Legislature and to let them know if you support these Capital Improvement Projects so that they remain in the State Budget,” Rep. Mele Carroll said. “With so many issues before us during these hard economic times, it is the responsibility of the Legislature to balance the State’s budget. While trying not to further burden Hawai‘i residents and businesses with tax increases, layoffs or furloughs of state employees, and further cuts to public services or programs, the reality is that all of these issues are being looked at to balance the budget.”

Rep. Mele Carroll, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs and Chairwoman of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus, represents Pa‘ia, Haiku, Huelo, Kailua, Keanae, Wailua, Nahiku, Hana, Kipahulu, Kaupo, islands of Kaho‘olawe, Lana‘i, Moloka‘i, including Kalaupapa, and Molokini.

The current draft of the State Budget Bill includes:

Moloka‘i Capital Improvement Projects
UH Maui, Moloka‘i Campus; Land acquisition – $500,000
Moloka‘i Irrigation System; improvements – $3,500,000
Moloka‘i and Waimea Hydropower Plant; plans, design, and construction – $1,350,000
Moloka‘i Airport; security access control and closed circuit TV – $1,191,000
Kamehameha V Highway; Kawela Stream Bridge Replacement – $10,000,000
Kamehameha V Highway; Makakupaia Stream Bridge Replacement – $3,750,000
Kamehameha V Highway; drainage improvements – $1,400,000

Maui Capital Improvement Projects
Hana Health; design plans for medical center expansion, Grant-in-Aid – $250,000
La‘a Kea Foundation (Pa‘ia); Sunrise Farm Community of Maui, Grant-in-Aid – $316,000
Hana Highway improvements, Huelo to Hana – $2,930,000
Hana Highway improvements, Uakea Road to Keawa Place – $2,010,000
Haleakala Highway; widening at milepost 0.8 – $1,905,000

Lana‘i Capital Improvement Projects
Lana‘i Airport; ARFF Station improvements – $7,655,000
Lana‘i Airport; security access control and closed circuit TV – $1,328,000

Kaho‘olawe Capital Improvement Projects
Hakioawa Shelter and Kitchen – $400,000

Taro security bill passes with Senate Floor Amendments

In News Release on April 15, 2009 at 5:09 am

Honolulu. A bill introduced by Rep. Mele Carroll that would prohibit the development, testing, propagation, release, importation, planting, or growing of genetically engineered Hawaiian taro was heard on the Senate Floor and amended to resemble an earlier House draft, which also establishes prohibitions on genetically engineered non-Hawaiian taro.

“I think taro farmers have made great strides in educating the Legislature about their concerns of genetic testing,” Rep. Mele Carroll said. “I’m hopeful Hawaiian issues such as taro security will remain on the forefront.”

The Taro Security Bill, House Bill 1663 HD1 SD2, addresses concerns about the possibility of cross-pollination of Hawaiian taro with genetically modified non-Hawaiian taro.

“This bill represents a very balanced approach to this very controversial issue,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda on the Senate Floor.

The Senate Floor Amendments restore prohibitions from an earlier draft, which state that no non-Hawaiian taro that are not unique to Hawai‘i, including, but not limited to, the Chinese taro (Bun long) and araimo varieties, shall be genetically engineered outside an enclosed laboratory; no genetic engineering of non-Hawaiian taro shall be allowed inside an enclosed laboratory unless entry into the enclosed laboratory is prohibited to the general public; no genetically engineered non-Hawaiian taro shall be tested, propagated, planted, or grown outside an enclosed structure; and no genetically engineered non-Hawaiian taro shall be tested, propagated, planted, or grown inside an enclosed structure, unless entry into the enclosed structure is prohibited to the general public.

Taro, or kalo, is recognized by Hawai‘i as the official state plant for its cultural and historic significance. For Native Hawaiians, kalo holds a spiritual and sacred connection to their ancestry.

Kalo is also an important food crop in Hawai‘i and a complex carbohydrate with hypo allergenic properties that are life-saving for those with digestive disorders and allergies, including young children and the elderly.

Health implications of non-taro genes in genetically engineered kalo have never been tested nor approved for human consumption.

The purpose of the House Bill 1663 HD1 SD2 is to further protect (1) the cultural integrity of kalo as part of the heritage of the Hawaiian people and the State; (2) the genetic biodiversity and integrity of Hawaiian taro varieties in the State as part of the sacred trust between the State and the indigenous peoples of Hawai‘i; and (3) Hawai‘i’s non-GMO taro farmers.

Rep. Mele Carroll would like to see the University of Hawai‘i and other researchers invest time into looking at how Hawaiians’ ancestors tackled their own challenges with disease and other adversities to kalo.

“We want to protect our cultural integrity, especially when it comes to our kalo,” Rep. Mele Carroll said. “Hopefully there can be a movement to implement research into Native Hawaiian agricultural methods and protect our ancient practices as an alternative to genetic modification.”

Hawaiian Affairs Committee discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling and prompts both sides to seek a settlement and agreement to a proposed compromise bill

In News Release, Photos, Videos on April 9, 2009 at 9:06 am

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Honolulu. The House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs held an informational briefing today on the United States Supreme Court’s ruling and “What’s Next.” It was both Attorney General Mark Bennett and attorney at large Bill Meheula who gave their interpretation of the ruling and described in their own words a proposed comprised draft amendment to SB 1677 by expressing that this could be the best policy on the sale and transfer of ceded lands the Legislature could possibly support.

Click here to see video of Rep. Mele Carroll’s comments after the 4/8 hearing

Both Attorney General Mark Bennett and Attorney Bill Maheula explained that in the proposed compromise language, it will establish a new part in Chapter 171, HRS, applicable to certain state lands which include both ceded and other state lands.

The language includes that any sales of certain state lands are subject to legislative approval. If the legislature fails to approve the concurrent resolution by at least a two-thirds majority vote of both houses, the transaction shall not be consummated by the state department or agency.

The state department or agency proposing to sell any state land listed under subsection (a) shall submit for introduction to the legislature a concurrent resolution for review of any sale of state land. The concurrent resolution shall contain the following information: the location and area of the parcels of land to be sold; the appraisal value of the land to be sold; the name of all appraisers performing appraisals of the land to be sold; the date of the appraisal valuation; the purpose for which the land is being sold; and a detailed summary of any development plans for the land to be sold.

This proposed draft would exempt remnants, licenses, permits, easements, leases, and land exchanges conforming with section 171-50, HRS from legislative approval of sale. Disapproval by resolution of exchanges of public land as defined in chapter 171, HRS occurs by removing disapproval by two-thirds vote of either the Senate or the House, and retaining disapproval by majority vote of both houses of the Legislature. The department shall submit for introduction to the legislature a concurrent resolution, single house resolution, or both, for review of action on any exchange deeds, which will be executed by the parties together with the required information such as: the location and area of the parcels of land to be exchanged; the value of the lands to be conveyed by the State and the private party; the name or names of the appraiser or appraisers; and the date of the appraisal valuation.

Another consideration added to this language is that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs would be notified of any proposed transfer or exchange of “ceded lands.”

“The reason why we are recommending this proposed language to SB 1677 is because we believe it is fair,” said Bill Meheula, who represent the four native Hawaiians who originally filed the lawsuit. “The bill is doable in the sense that we are confident that both houses could support it as well as the Governor probably approving it.”

Attorney General Mark Bennett said, “If there are no current plans to sell any ‘ceded lands’ by the administration and the Legislature has a pre-approval process, then passing this bill and ending the lawsuit is beneficial.”

In testimony on other bills proposing a moratorium on the sale of “ceded lands,” the Attorney General had criticized those bills as being in conflict with the Admission Act and said that the bills’ purposes raised the likelihood of an 14th Amendment challenges.

Rep. Mele Carroll asked the Attorney General for his opinion on a bill that proposed a sunset date on a moratorium. The Attorney General said that a bill dealing only with the sale of “ceded lands” and not exchanges would less likely have Admission Act problems, and that a moratorium with a one year statute would likely not have any 14th Amendment challenges because it was not enough time for a lawsuit to make it into court.

“What we’re proposing to you is something that doesn’t have a sunset date, and you will be able to reject individual sales,” Attorney General Mark Bennett said.

Vice Chair, Rep. Maile Shimabukuro expressed concerns over the disapproval process of the bill, whereby a single committee chair has the power to pull a resolution before it is heard. If a legislator wants a transfer or exchange of ceded lands transaction to happen, all they have to do is make sure that the concurrent resolution is not heard. This kills the resolution and therefore no disapproval occurs.

Rep. Della au Bellatti made the point today that the legislature doesn’t have to take the recommendation that the Attorney General Mark Bennett and Attorney Bill Meheula is proposing. The Legislature has the power and the ability to set the policy and will have to look at all possibilities.

“I am still in favor of a full moratorium,” said Rep. Mele Carroll, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs. “However, I could live with a sunset date on a moratorium making it one, two, three or even five years to give us some time to discuss, evaluate and come up with a policy that we can all live with, if that is the direction this body wants to move in, our goal should be that the trust is protected, especially if the Legislature cannot reach an agreement on the policy.”

It was noted that all of the clients in this case will need to be consulted on the new proposed language to SB 1677. Bill Meheula is optimistic and confident that this is the way to go because of the uncertainty of the outcome of the Hawaii Supreme Court case should this be argued again. “We may or may not lose everything,” said Bill Meheula. “Reaching a settlement may be our best solution and we are hopeful that the outcome would be just that, so we can dismiss this case without prejudice.”

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Committee on Hawaiian Affairs holds “ceded lands” informational briefing

In News Release on April 8, 2009 at 2:49 am

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Honolulu. The House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs will be holding a public informational briefing to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of State of Hawai‘i vs. Office of Hawaiian Affairs regarding the issue of “ceded lands” on Wednesday, April 8 at 9:30 a.m. in State Capitol room 329.

“After learning the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, and knowing that twenty five days after the U.S. ruling is filed the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court’s injunction will be lifted and that the State will be able to sell ‘ceded lands’ is frightening,” said Representative Mele Carroll.

Attorney General Mark J. Bennett will talk about how the ruling affects the State of Hawai‘i and attorney at law Bill Meheula will talk about how the ruling affects native Hawaiian claims.They both will also talk about the future and what they are going to do next.

 

NOTICE OF INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING

 

DATE:

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

TIME:

9:30am                                                                       

PLACE:

Conference Room 329

State Capitol

415 South Beretania Street

 

 

Native Hawaiian issues on the forefront this session

In Mele's Words on April 7, 2009 at 4:42 am
In recognition of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu’s 90th anniversary and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs’ 50th anniversary, Rep. Mele Carroll honored Leimomi Khan, president of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs; Leatrice Kauahi, president of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu; Anita Naone, immediate past president of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu; Momi Clark, director of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu; and Manu Boyd, past president of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu.

In recognition of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu’s 90th anniversary and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs’ 50th anniversary, Rep. Mele Carroll honored Leimomi Khan, president of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs; Leatrice Kauahi, president of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu; Anita Naone, immediate past president of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu; Momi Clark, director of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu; and Manu Boyd, past president of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu.

Honolulu. The legislative fight for a moratorium is one that has united kupuna, native Hawaiians, lawmakers, communities, and activists from across the state. The resounding support to bar the selling of “ceded lands” until the reconciliation process can take place is not simply there to institute a legal measure. The powerful emotions and voices that have emerged from our Kukakuka with Hawai‘i’s community reflect the willingness of Hawai‘i’s people to continue to move forward with this healing process and to protect the lands for future generations.

Protecting against the sale of these “ceded lands” is truly at the heart of native Hawaiian issues, and you’ve seen that in the vocalization, demonstration, and activism by native Hawaiians in media coverage this year.

Moving forward with the reconciliation process is the kuleana of all of Hawai‘i’s people. And part of that kuleana involves facilitating an open and transparent dialogue.

With the start of the 2009 Legislative Session, I’ve had discussions with Gov. Linda Lingle, Attorney General Mark Bennett, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Chair Micah Kane, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustees Haunani Apoliana, Walter Heen, Oswald Ostender, Collette Machado, and Robert Lindsey, OHA’s Administrator Clyde Namu‘o as well as OHA’s attorney Bill Maheula, regarding the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on “ceded lands.”

Other members of the Hawaiian community who I had discussions with about legislation I introduced which calls for a moratorium on the sale and transfer of “ceded lands” are the Royal Order of Kamehameha Ali‘i Nui Clifford Hashimoto and members, Hawai‘i attorney Sherry Broder, The Reinstated Hawaiian Government Prime Minister Henry Noa, Aha Kiole Representatives, Association of Hawaiian Civics Clubs President Leimomi Kahn, Kumu Hula Vicky Holt-Takamine of Iliuokalani and many, many others.

It is imperative not just for native Hawaiians, but all of Hawai‘i’s people that a moratorium on the selling of “ceded lands” remain in place to preserve this process of reconciliation.

As Chairwoman of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee and Chairwoman of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus, which consists of six State Senators and 22 State Representatives, I have kept an open and transparent discussion to educate lawmakers on the cultural, emotional, and inherent significance of these “ceded lands” to the Hawaiian people. And I think that in turn has allowed for these lawmakers to have that dialogue with their own constituents.

In late January 2009, the Caucus supported a full moratorium on the selling of “ceded lands” and made it a priority to see that one is implemented.

With the issue of “ceded lands” back from the U.S. Supreme Court and in the hands of our state’s governing bodies, the Legislature has an opportunity to pass a law where we can set policy to ensure that “ceded lands” are not sold or transferred until the State fulfills its fiduciary responsibility and moral obligation to native Hawaiians.

In February, I travelled to Washington D.C. to reach out to President Barrack Obama’s administration on the issue of “ceded lands.” While I was not able to speak with the President in person, I did establish a presence with his administration and open the line of communication for future discussions on this issue.

Going into the Legislative conference, there are several vehicles and many options that we have to place a moratorium on the sale of “ceded lands.” It is essential that our lawmakers hear from Hawai‘i’s public on the importance of moving forward with this healing process and protecting the lands for future generations.

I also found it essential to bring the discussion of addressing income due to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, as constitutionally mandated for the 30-year period from November 7, 1978 to July 1, 2008, to the Hawaiian people from across the state.

In February, I took the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee to Maui, Kona, Hilo, and Kaua‘i to hear testimony on House Bill 901, which explores finally meeting the State’s obligation to OHA for that 30-year period settlement through an exchange in land.

This legislative session also saw Hawai‘i’s commitment to ensuring taro security when the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs received over 500 testimonies in support of a bill to prohibit the development, testing, propagation, release, importation, planting or growing of genetically modified taro in the State of Hawai‘i.

As part of the Hawaiian Caucus Day celebration on March, 24 2009, an O‘ahu Taro Festival hosted by KAHEA and Na Kahu o Haloa in collaboration with the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus was held on the ground floor rotunda of the State Capitol. Hundreds arrived to watch taro farmers from throughout the state and participate in the largest unified gathering of Ku‘i Kalo to celebrate Hawai‘i’s living taro traditions.

In a floor presentation during session on the day of the Hawaiian Caucus Day event, I introduced House Resolution 292, which honors the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu’s 90th anniversary and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs’ 50th anniversary. For decades, these outstanding organizations have preserved Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi’s vision to help Hawai‘i’s young people secure an education that would enable them to compete successfully in the new cultural environment introduced to Hawaii in the 19th century. The Hawaiian Civic Clubs have generated thousands of dollars for higher education opportunities for Hawaiians while perpetuating Hawaiian formal elegance.

There are many other issues that I have taken on to address this session, such as: issuing a commemorative stamp honoring Prince Kuhio, requesting the University of Hawai‘i meet with the Kanaka Maoli Council on its Sustainability Plan, developing a Kupuna honorary degree program, urging the counties to adopt measures that provide real property tax relief for Kuleana lands, supporting the discussions for a Hawaiian Constitutional Convention, requesting the Department of Human Services to determine the feasibility of increasing Foster Board Payment Rates, providing adequate funding for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, urging the President of the United States to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, developing a plan to implement replicas of Hawaiian Hale on the State Capitol lawn, asking the University of Hawai‘i to study the feasibility of planting non-GMO kalo in the reflecting pool that surrounds the State Capitol Building, and requesting Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation withdraw its support for the Hawai‘i Capital National Heritage Area.

It has been a very important year for Hawai‘i and for native Hawaiians. I’m proud to be the Chair of the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs of Hawaiian and of Hawaiian decent. Furthermore, I’m thrilled to see that the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus has grown to 28 members, including 22 Representatives and 6 Senators.

We have to ensure, in the media, in government, and throughout the community, that these and all native Hawaiian issues remain at the forefront of discussion. These are not just issues affecting native Hawaiians. It is the kuleana of all the people of Hawai‘i to protect the host culture and its people.

Rep. Mele Carroll pushes for immediate “ceded lands” protection

In News Release on April 4, 2009 at 5:23 am

Honolulu. “After learning the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, and knowing that twenty five days after the U.S. ruling is filed the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court’s injunction will be lifted and that the State will be able to sell ‘ceded lands’ is frightening,” said Representative Mele Carroll today.

There is only one bill that is moving through the House of Representatives, SB 1677, and it may not make it through conference as there are many differences that will need to be settled with the Senate.

The Senate sent over to the House two bills to address the situation of the sale and transfer of ceded lands. The first was SB 1677 which is a two-thirds majority vote of two houses approval process and the second was SB 1085 which calls for a five year moratorium on the sale and transfer of “ceded lands.”

Both of these bills passed out of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs and passed on the floor and were referred to the Water, Land & Ocean Resources Committee jointly with the Judiciary Committee. However, only SB 1677 received a hearing and therefore, SB 1085 was dead for the session.

During today’s session, Rep. Mele Carroll, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs and Chairwoman of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus, made a motion to suspend the rules to recall SB 1085 SD2 HD1 out of the Water, Land, Ocean Resources Committee jointly with the Judiciary Committee to bring the bill to a floor vote for the purpose of having another bill alive to further the discussion on protecting against the sale and transfer of “ceded lands.”

Senate Bill 1085 SD2 HD1 prohibits the sale or transfer of ceded lands until the unrelinquished claims of the native Hawaiian people are resolved, reconciliation between the State and the native Hawaiian people is no longer supported, or December 31, 2014, whichever occurs first. The bill also requires a two-thirds approval of the Legislature and compelling state interest for the sale or transfer of ceded lands, when one of the foregoing conditions occurs.

The vote required to succeed the motion was 26 and Rep. Mele Carroll’s motion fell short by 11 votes. “I know that some of my colleagues voted no because they wanted to wait and see what the House does with SB 1677 and wanted more information on SB 1085,” said Rep. Mele Carroll. “However, I’ve always been a supporter of a full moratorium and felt compelled today to take action and bring the issue to the forefront and make sure that this option is not forgotten.”

There is still another opportunity to recall this bill at a later time without suspending the rules. Only this time when it is recalled, only 17 votes in support is needed to recall it. Then we will need 26 votes to pass it off the floor and send back to the Senate for consideration.

“Although the motion failed, I am happy that I took action today, and I would do it again. We need a full moratorium on the sale and transfer of “ceded lands.” Much is lost otherwise,” said Rep. Mele Carroll. “I urge everyone to call your legislators and voice your position on this matter.”

“Ceded lands” moratorium, Moloka‘i projects a priority for Rep. Mele Carroll

In Mele's Words on April 3, 2009 at 6:33 am

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From the Molokai Dispatch. With the issue of “ceded lands” back from the U.S. Supreme Court and in the hands of our state’s governing bodies, the Legislature has an opportunity to pass a law where we can set policy to ensure that “ceded lands” are not sold or transferred until the State fulfills its fiduciary responsibility and moral obligation to native Hawaiians. Protecting these lands is our kuleana, and we should resolve the issue here at home.

Last year, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court ordered that there be an injunction to prevent the State from selling “ceded lands” from the public land trust. The Hawai‘i Supreme Court Justices acknowledged the State’s fiduciary duty to preserve those lands until the unrelinquished claims of Native Hawaiians have been resolved.

The Hawai‘i Supreme Court also said that given the crucial importance of the ‘aina to the Native Hawaiian people and their culture, their religion, their economic self-sufficiency, and their sense of personal and community well-being, any further diminishment of the “ceded lands” from the public lands trust will negatively impact the contemplated reconciliation and settlement efforts between native Hawaiians and the State.

Protecting the lands is the responsibility of all of Hawai‘i’s people, and now is the time to keep the “ceded lands” issue on the forefront.

In February, I travelled to Washington D.C. to reach out to President Barrack Obama’s administration on the issue of “ceded lands.” While I was not able to speak with the President in person, I did establish a presence with his administration and open the line of communication for future discussions on this issue.

Going into the Legislative conference, there are several vehicles and many options that we have to place a moratorium on the sale of “ceded lands.” It is essential that our lawmakers hear from Hawai‘i’s public on the importance of moving forward with this healing process and protecting the lands for future generations.

Along with seeing that the “ceded lands” are protected, it has been my priority to see that Moloka‘i receives the funding that it needs for its critical projects.

The State Budget Bill, House Bill 200 HD1, passed the House of Representatives last week at the midway point of the 2009 Legislative Session with $13.7 million going toward Moloka‘i Capital Improvement Projects. Although I do not sit on the House Committee on Finance this session, I have managed to get in the budget Capital Improvement Projects for Moloka‘i, which are: $3.5 million for Moloka‘i Irrigation System repair and maintenance improvements, $1.5 million for Moloka‘i Airport Security and CCTV, $4.5 million for Kamehameha V Highway Kawela Stream Bridge, $3.7 million for Kamehameha V Highway Makakupaia Stream Bridge, and $500,000 for land acquisition for Maui Community College’s Moloka‘i Campus.

House Bill 200 HD1 has crossed over to the Senate, where it will then go to conference amended as a Senate Draft. We need everyone’s support out there to call the Legislature and to let them know if you support these Capital Improvement Projects so that they remain in the State Budget.

With so many issues before us during these hard economic times, it is the responsibility of the Legislature to balance the State’s budget. While trying not to further burden Hawai‘i residents and businesses with tax increases, layoffs or furloughs of state employees, and further cuts to public services or programs, the reality is that all of these issues are being looked at to balance the budget.

It is my hope that through active participation and keeping the lines of communication open between the Hawaiian community, general public, and lawmakers, that all of Hawai‘i’s people may be able to ensure a future that is pono.