2022 Legislative Session Summary: Outcomes for Bills Impacting Native Hawaiians

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The 2022 legislative session was a historic one for Native Hawaiians.

On July 11, 2022, Governor Ige signed HB2511 – which became Act 279 – granting DHHL $600 million to pursue a multi-pronged approach to eliminating its waitlist. Due to the state’s unexpected budget surplus, many longstanding unresolved matters were confronted.

Even prior to the session, legislators were examining issues affecting the Native Hawaiian community, resulting in the passage of many bills that have near-term benefits for the lāhui – as well as some measures that may provide a path forward to address the outstanding concerns of our community.

The following is a summary of some of the key bills and one resolution from the 2022 legislative session for which the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) provided testimony and advocacy. These measures raised, or sought to address, issues of concern to the Native Hawaiian community.

Passed and signed by the governor

SB2021 – which then became Act 226 – increasing the payment amount for OHA’s pro rata share of the Public Land Trust (PLT). After the Senate Ways and Means committee deferred OHA’s Package PLT bill (SB2122), legislators decided to use SB2021 as a vehicle to change OHA’s pro rata share. At one point, OHA protested legislators’ changes to the formula for calculating OHA’s pro rata share by using net receipts instead of current gross receipts. OHA successfully negotiated amendments to SB2021 that not only stopped any harmful provisions, but also improved the status quo. The legislature successfully adopted a final version of the measure that:

  • Increased OHA’s interim annual pro rata from $15.1 million to $21.5 million, which, while an improvement, is far less than OHA’s request for $78.9 million annually.
  • Allocated a one-time payment of $64 million to OHA, which reflected the difference between $21.5 million and the prior allocation of $15.1 million over a period of 10 years.
  • Established an OHA-led working group to account for all ceded lands in the PLT inventory and for all income and proceeds from PLT, in order to determine the actual 20% pro rata share.

SB11411 – which then became Act 212 – Historic Preservation Program; duties; penalties. This measure increases fines for violations committed by those who knowingly destroy or harm a burial or any other historic property. The measure also requires that any landowner or developer responsible for the violation to carry out mitigations as prescribed by the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD).

HB1768 – which then became Act 027 – relating to the disposition of water rights. OHA supported this measure which will assist kalo farmers in rebuilding and maintaining their loʻi by exempting the instream use of water for traditional and customary kalo cultivation practices from the existing process for disposition of water. The measure recognizes, confirms, and protects traditional, customary kuleana rights to water, including rights of use, access, delivery, and quality of water. Consistent with the Taro Security and Purity Task Force’s report of 2010, this measure creates a legal framework for managing Hawaiʻi’s precious freshwater resources.

HB2024 – which became Act 255 – relating to Maunakea stewardship and oversight authority. In 2021, the House adopted HR33, a resolution to convene a working group to develop recommendations for a new governance and management structure for Maunakea. OHA participated in the Maunakea Working Group (MKWG), which presented its recommendations to the 2022 Legislature. These recommendations were incorporated into the original draft of HB2024. OHA did not oppose the original draft, but as the bill progressed in the legislative process, committees amended HB2024, and key provisions were changed – which OHA opposed. The final bill that passed the legislature includes substantive changes to MKWG’s recommendations – including the University of Hawaiʻi’s stewardship and oversight authority and Public Lands Trust limitations.

Additionally, OHA supported a successfully adopted resolution in support of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, HCR 130, which addressed “Apologizing to the Native Hawaiian People for the Effective Prohibition in Hawaiʻi Schools of the Instructional Use of the Hawaiian Language from 1896 to 1986.” The language of the resolution included a declaration that this body (the House) urges the executive branch of the State of Hawaiʻi to also acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and to address the historical and contemporary issues between the United States of America and the Native Hawaiian people. On April 8, 2022, the Resolution was adopted in final form.

OHA Board Chair Lindsey Comments on Passage of PLT Bill

“On June 27, Gov. David Ige signed into law Act 226 which establishes $21.6 million as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ new interim annual share of the proceeds of the Public Land Trust beginning in fiscal year 2023; appropriates $64 million to OHA; and establishes a working group to determine the pro rata share of the proceeds from the Public Land Trust due annually to OHA.

“We have received the $64 million appropriation and the Board has voted and approved its investment into our Native Hawaiian Trust Fund in accordance with the Investment Policy.

“Ultimately, the decision of where to deploy these additional resources will be decided by our Board of Trustees in fulfillment of their fiduciary duties considering our investment and spending policies and in alignment with our Mana i Mauli Ola Strategic Plan.

“We mahalo the governor, our legislators and most of all our beneficiaries for their support in helping us to move forward on this long-debated topic. We are committed to participating in the working group and together finding a pono resolution to this issue that is fair and just for our people. Act 226 represents important progress and is a win for our lāhui, and we will continue to prudently steward these resources as we strive to Hoʻoulu Lāhui Aloha – raise a beloved lāhui.”