A Public Land Trust bill that would increase the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ pro rata share of the Public Land Trust revenue has been passed by the 2022 Hawaiʻi State Legislature and is currently awaiting Gov. David Ige’s signature.
Bills that were delivered to the governor this year after April 18 will become law if signed or not vetoed by July 12. The governor has until June 27 to inform the Legislature of an intention to veto any such bills.
To override any vetoed bills, the Legislature would have to convene a special session at or before noon on July 12 and gather a two-thirds majority vote.
SB2021 SD1 HD2 CD1 would raise annual revenue payments to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs from $15.1 million to $21.5 million, provide an additional sum of $64 million, and form a working group to continue discussion of this long-debated issue.
The bill cleared both the House and Senate floor votes unanimously.
“It has been extremely gratifying to observe this year’s legislative session and know that not only were concerns for the Native Hawaiian people listened to and heard but attended to as well. We have always, and will continue to, advocate for what is just, fair and pono for our people,” said OHA Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey.
“We would like to thank our legislators for addressing the state’s constitutional obligation to Native Hawaiians and agreeing to continue to work toward a resolution of this issue. We mahalo House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Reps. Mark Nakashima, Stacelynn Eli, Daniel Holt and Gene Ward as well as Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz, Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani, and Sens. Maile Shimabukuro, Jarrett Keohokalole and Kurt Fevella for their leadership and support on behalf of Native Hawaiians,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey said that OHA is looking forward to the upcoming working group discussions.
“The formation of a working group is important progress that we hope will lead to increased discussion and a better understanding of the state’s constitutional obligation to the Native Hawaiian people and strategies to fulfill it,” she said.
Lindsey said the decision of where to prudently deploy these additional funds will be decided by OHA’s Board of Trustees in fulfillment of their fiduciary duties considering the agency’s investment and spending policies and in alignment with the organization’s 15-year Mana i Mauli Ola Strategic Plan.
“Together, with the support from our state Legislature, we will continue our work to better the lives of the Native Hawaiian people and create a thriving lāhui,” she said.
Lindsey thanked her fellow trustees for their professionalism and for operating in a spirit of lōkahi and congratulated the staff and administration at OHA led by Chief Executive Officer/Ka Pouhana Dr. Sylvia Hussey, Chief Operating Officer Casey Brown and Chief Advocate Naʻu Kamaliʻi for their stellar work in seeing the bill through the legislative session.
“We have worked very hard to raise awareness and educate the public, including our legislators, on the issues surrounding the Public Land Trust, and we will continue this work until we can come up with a resolution to this issue that honors the state’s obligations to Native Hawaiians,” Lindsey said.
“I’d like to send a special mahalo to our beneficiaries, community organizations and every individual who took the time to offer testimony in support of this bill. In truth, the Public Land Trust bill is not a bill for OHA, it is a bill for the Native Hawaiian people.”