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Case's Hawaiian autonomy bill to die

The measure faced opposition because a state-created autonomy would interfere with sovereignty efforts

Tuesday, February 3, 1998

By Pat Omandam
Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Citing the need to leave discussion of sovereignty and autonomy to native Hawaiians, state Rep. Ed Case (D, Manoa) will recommend that his Hawaiian Affairs committee hold the proposed Native Hawaiian Autonomy Act.

Although House Bill 2340 may be dead, Hawaiians caution there are many others that aren't.

"This (bill) is one of several measures that are very detrimental to Hawaiian entitlements," said Haunani Apoliona, Office of Hawaiian Affairs vice chairwoman. "The session is not over yet."

Case, in a memorandum circulated late yesterday to House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (D, Wailuku), said he has re-reviewed the lengthy testimony given Saturday and discussed the issue at length with committee members. Based on this, Case and Vice Chairman Nathan Suzuki (D, Moanalua-Salt Lake) agreed to leave the issue to Hawaiians.

"Because I do not believe that a bill of this complexity and import should be advanced absent some general consensus, my own preliminary conclusion was that the bill should be held," Case said.

"However, I wanted to confirm that opinion in a legislative hearing, and also believed that the public discussion would be beneficial and that the testimony would assist in focusing and advancing further discussions," he said.

The committee votes on the bill Thursday.

The bill would have eliminated Hawaiian-oriented agencies such as OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands in favor of a single Native Hawaii Trust Corp. to manage all native resources.

The measure, however, would mean a state-created autonomy that many Hawaiian groups opposed because it would interfere with their efforts for sovereignty at the federal and international levels.

Case circulated the memo to colleagues and the media to begin the healing process, as well as more constructive talks on self-determination.

"While I regret the tone of much of the discussion to date, I strongly believe that this was a necessary step in forwarding the larger resolution we all seek," he said.

OHA Chairwoman A. Frenchy DeSoto said: "We look forward to him keeping his promise.

"If there is a single lesson to be learned, it is that Hawaiians must be involved in decisions which affect their lives.

"Anything short of this is wrong and perpetuates the damage done to Hawaiians and their community more than 100 years ago," DeSoto said.

1998 Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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