House District 13

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Committees on Hawaiian Affairs and Water, Land, and Ocean Resources

In News Release on March 25, 2010 at 4:57 am

HONOLULU—The House Committees on Hawaiian Affairs and on Water, Land, and Ocean Resources voted today on several resolutions pertinent to their respective concerns.  Chairs Rep. Mele Carroll (D-13th) and Rep. Ken Ito (D-48th) heard testimony from relevant organizations and individuals.

House Concurrent Resolution 331 and House Resolution 250 both request the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) to work together to address and clarify the term “Burial Site.”  OHA testified in support, while DLNR recommended that “the respective Island Burial Councils be tasked with taking testimony on this subject and that they provide SHPD and OHA with feedback.”  The Committees voted to pass an amended version of this resolution that included DLNR’s suggestion.

House Concurrent Resolution 330 and House Resolution 249 request a study on the feasibility of transferring jurisdiction over the coordination of the evaluation and management of burial sites of Native Hawaiian origin from DLNR SHPD to OHA.  Dr. Sara L. Collins, Ph.D, of the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, testified, offering “to provide any assistance appropriate to our professional expertise that would provide useful date for the feasibility study.”  The Committees voted to pass this resolution as written.

House Concurrent Resolution 336 and House Resolution 254 both request that SHPD complete a statewide survey and inventory to identify and document historical properties, aviation, artifacts, and burial sites, with an emphasis on historic preservation relating to the culture and history of Hawaiians and Native Hawaiians.  Kiersten Faulkner, Executive Director of the Historic Hawai`i Foundation, testified that “Updating the state’s inventory of historic sites, structures, artifacts, burials and other historic properties is necessary in order to improve the process of identifying and disclosing the presence of potentially significant historical and cultural sites in a timely way, which in turn will better allow the planning and development processes to provide for their protection, and will further provide for consumer protection by ensuring that property owners are informed about historic preservation responsibilities and restrictions.”  The Committees voted to pass this resolution with amendments to its language.

Rep. Mele Carroll says, “Our state’s record on preserving historic sites has been far from ideal, so I’m glad that we had the opportunity to do our part in ensuring that sites that are important to Hawaii’s history are identified and protected in a culturally appropriate manner.  This is a necessary task that is long overdue.”

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Committee on Hawaiian Affairs Pass Resolutions on Hawaiian Architecture, Tattoos, and Reducing the Blood Quantum for Hawaiian Homes Successorship

In News Release on March 25, 2010 at 4:56 am

HONOLULU— Chairwoman Rep. Mele Carroll (D-14th) the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs heard testimony last week from a number of organizations and citizens on Resolutions that it voted on today. 

House Concurrent Resolution 245 and House Resolution 173 both request that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Bishop Museum to cooperate in developing a plan to build on the State Capitol Lawn a replica of a Hawaiian Hale surrounded by tropical foliage.  The Committee voted to pass these resolutions as written.

House Concurrent Resolution 313 and House Resolution 227 both encourage that traditional Hawaiian tattooing be recognized as an art form.  The Department of Health expressed willingness “to work with the native Hawaiian tattoo artists to refine their practice to increase its safety while maintaining recognition of tattooing as an art form.”  The Committee voted to pass these resolutions as written.

House Concurrent Resolution 327 and House Resolution 246 both urge the individual counties in the State of Hawaii to adopt Native Hawaiian building codes.  The OHA testified in support, noting that “Maui County has already taken a step in this direction and traditional Hawaiian hale are starting to flourish again on that island.”  Both of these resolutions were passed as written.

House Concurrent Resolution 332 and House Resolution 251 request that the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands revise its present policies on matters of successorship by allowing persons with 1/8 Hawaiian ancestry to inherit Hawaiian Home Lands.  Leimomi Khan, President of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs testified in support of these resolutions, pointing out that “Native Hawaiians living on Hawaiian Home Lands [expressed] Concern . . . about the ability of families to pass on to their children and grandchildren successorship to the lands on which they lived because of the dimishing blood quantum caused by intermarriages between Native Hawaiians and non-qualified spouses.”  This measure passed with amendments to its language, giving DHHL the opportunity to explore its options in terms of revisions to its successorship policy.

Rep. Mele Carroll says, “I am optimistic about these resolutions, as they will greatly enhance the freedom of Native Hawaiians to practice their culture and to take care of their families.”

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Water Rights, Lo`i at the Capitol, Healing Our Spirit Day, and Hawaiian Language College Measures Pass

In News Release on March 19, 2010 at 9:26 pm

HONOLULU—Chairwoman Representative Mele Carroll (D-13th) called for the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs to convene today to hear testimony and vote on a number of measures.  The persons who submitted testimony ranged from envoys from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to private citizens.  Due to time constraints related to the quantity of bills discussed and the number of testifiers, some of the bills will be voted on next week.

The first item was SB 2903, a Senate bill that would require the DOE, the charter school administrative office, and the Hawaiian Language College at UH-Hilo to enter into an agreement regarding the Hawaiian language college’s functions related to Nawahiokalani`opu`u school and other lab schools.  Rep. Faye Hanohano (D-4th) testified in favor of this bill, as did Dr. Kalena Silva from the College of Hawaiian Language.  Maunalei Love, Interim Executive Director of the Charter School Administration Offices, raised concerns regarding the degree of responsibility that will be afforded to the Hawaiian Language College.  The Committee voted to pass this bill with amendments to address the concerns that Love raised.

The second item was SB633, which would increase the representation of homestead farmers on the Molokai irrigations system users’ advisory board.  Dwayne Okamoto of the Department of Agriculture, stated that they wanted community input from kupuna homesteaders.  He also noted the current policies undertaken to ensure that Hawaiian homesteaders have priority use of the water; for example, during times of drought, businesses are required to cut back on their water use whereas homesteaders are allowed to use water as they are accustomed to. 

Representative Mele Carroll asked how the Department of Agriculture defined kupuna for the purpose of the bill and voiced concerns that not all kupuna homesteaders are necessarily farmers, and that while their knowledge is not to be undervalued, some of the younger homesteaders might be more educated regarding technical advances in water conservation. Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) chairman Kamaki Kanahele concurred, stating that he felt all water users should be consulted on this measure.  He testified that Moku Aupuni o Molokai represents all homesteaders.  Therefore, Chairwoman Representative Mele Carroll recommended amendments to the bill providing that Moku Aupuni O Molokai determine the process by which they will select their representative for this position on the advisory board.  The Committee voted to pass this amended version of the bill.

HCR 103 and HR 54 both urge participation in the 6th Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Gathering, an event that occurs every 4 years and encourages indigenous communities to join together in spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.  Leimomi Khan, president of the Hawaiian Civics Club, testified in support of the resolutions, as did Papa Ola Lokahi.  Both of these organizations are involved in hosting the gatherings in Honolulu this September.  The Committee voted to pass this resolution with amendments.

HCR 244 and HR 172 request that a lo`i be established on the grounds of the State Capitol.  The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) cited reservations, questioning how a lo`i would impact the Capitol’s nomination to the National Registry of Historic places and it did not possess “sufficient personnel or funding to implement growing kalo on the Capitol grounds as envisioned by these resolutions.  Private citizen Daniel Anthony testified that an organization he belongs to, Onipa`a Na Hui Kalo, “does laulima work days to open taro patches all over the islands” and stated that he envisioned the lo`i as a community project that wouldn’t require funding so much as it would volunteers.  The Committee voted to pass this measure with amendments to add the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as the state agency responsible for overseeing and initiating planning with all kalo farmers to realize this vision.

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House Committees on Hawaiian Affairs and Water, Land, & Natural Resources Convene Jointly to Hear Testimony on Bills

In News Release on March 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm

House Committees on Hawaiian Affairs & Water, Land, & Ocean Resources Convene Jointly to Hear Testimony on Bills Honolulu—Members of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs and the Committee on Water, Land, and Natural Resources convened on February 3 to discuss several bills pertinent to the preservation of Native Hawaiian history and to the perseverance of Native Hawaiians in the future. Representative Mele Carroll (D-13th), Chair of the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs, and Representative Ken Ito (D-48th), Chair on the Committee on Water, Land, and Natural Resources, oversaw the hearing and heard testimony related to the bills. The first bill on the agenda was HB 2480, which would require that the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) report on the cultural and historical significance of an archaeological site inadvertently destroyed and provide for penalties for willful alteration or destruction of an archaeological site on the Hawaii or national register of historic places. OHA testified in support the bill and recommended a few amendments, such as providing for consultation with Native Hawaiians in the process where the integrity, function, and significance of historic sites are assessed to determine levels of protection and preservation.” Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell, Sr., who serves on the Maui Burial Counsel, strongly supported the bill, declaring that because Hawaiian culture was not recorded in “a written language, it is very important that the physical evidence of our past is preserved so that the future generation can relate to their ancestral ties.” Dr. Sara Collins, Chair for the Legislative Committee of the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, stated that her organization supported the intent of the bill and noted that “a very small number (less than five) of the hundreds of archaeological sites recorded annually through archaeological surveys [are] reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) are actually placed on the Hawaii Register of Historic Places or the National Register of Historic Places” and recommending that identified, surveyed historic places should be listed in the Statewide Inventory of Historic Places maintained by SHPD.” The Committee passed the bill with the recommended amendments, a move that Representative Mele Carroll regards as “A huge step forward in protecting our cultural heritage.” HB 1961 relating to Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission would impose a $1 per customer surcharge on ocean recreational activity tours conducted on Molokini or its surrounding reefs. The funds garnered would be deposited in the Kaho`olawe rehabilitation trust fund. Michael Naho`opi`i, Executive Director of the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), testified that his commission supports this measure to provide permanent state statutory funding for the restoration of Kaho`olawe, pointing out the numerous monetary and logistical difficulties the Commission has faced in rehabilitating Kaho`olawe.” The Committees voted to pass the bill with amendments to clarify its intent and eventual execution. Representative Mele Carroll says, “I am optimistic that if this bill passes it will greatly assist KIRC in rehabilitating the island of Kaho`olawe.” HB 2240 and HB 2242 would transfer the functions and duties of the Historic Preservation division of DLNR to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) regarding burial sites and the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission, respectively. OHA testified in support of HB 2240, as “the care, management, and protection of the estimated hundreds of thousands of unmarked ancestral Native Hawaiian burial sites situated throughout the state of Hawaii can be contentious, highly emotive, and often involves complex aspects of landowner, familial, and cultural ties.” While OHA is prepared to take over the duties discussed, they point out that doing so would require “extreme diligence regarding all legal, economic, cultural, and social facets to ensure that such a transfer of responsibilities is truly successful and not resultant in more failure and irreparable harm due to hasty implementation.” A number of residents from Nahiku testified in support of the bill in saying “The State Historical Preservation Division has not perpetuated the land in righteousness and it is urgent that we transfer all their functions and duties to the Office of the Hawaiian Affairs.” Kahu Charles Maxwell Sr. agreed, asserting “the quality of service [provided by DHHL] dropped and many burials were overlooked and ignored because the administrators failed to administer the law.” Michael Naho`opi`i of the KIRC opposed HB2242 on the grounds that Kaho`olawe “has had an island-wide inventory survey prepared and accepted” and that KIRC had already approved a “burial treatment plan [that] requires that regular surveys be conducted of all burial sites.” He felt that the “duties and responsibilities [described in HB2242] should remain with KIRC.” In light of this, the Committees chose to defer these bills for the time being in the interest of generating discussions on the matter before making a final decision. Next, the Commissions discussed HB2484, which established fines for the knowing destruction of heiau on private land. The Committees chose to pass this bill as written after hearing numerous testimonies in support of this highly necessary bill. As OHA points out, “Many [heiau] have been destroyed already,” in part because there is only limited legal protection of such historic sites. The final, and possibly the most controversial, bill presented at the hearing was HB 2241, which provides for the transfer of management, control, and title of public trust land to a sovereign Hawaiian entity should the United States and State of Hawaii recognize such an entity. This bill was deferred for the time being, in part to clarify its language and intent. Regarding the hearing as a whole, Representative Mele Carroll says, “I think that we made a lot of progress in protecting the treasures of our cultural past and in establishing ways of bettering the Hawaiian people in the future.”