HONOLULU (AP) — Three bills to change state law to reflect the U.S. Supreme
Court’s decision regarding voting in Office of Hawaiian Affairs elections were
spiked Tuesday night by the House Judiciary Committee.
The bills aren’t
needed, since the Supreme Court’s decision last week that all people — not
just Hawaiians — can vote in elections to choose the nine OHA trustees
nullifies the existing state law allowing only Hawaiians to vote, said Rep.
Eric Hamakawa, D-South Hilo-Puna, the committee chairman.
While the state
Constitution still needs to be changed to reflect the court’s decision, that
doesn’t have to be done right away, Hamakawa said.
“The attorney general’s
office told us we do not necessarily need to do that cleanup right now,” he
said. “The Supreme Court effectively conforms our statute in the
Two of the bills would have changed the law to read that all
people can vote in OHA elections, while the third bill would have created a
system where the trustees were appointed, not elected.
sentiment of Native Hawaiians at a hearing Saturday was to kill the bills,
“I think the Hawaiian community needs to digest what
happened, they want to take it back and see if they can come up with their own
solutions, and we want to give them every opportunity to do so,” Hamakawa
He said his committee would consider any legislation passed out of
The Senate is continuing a weeklong series of hearings on the
high court’s decision, with the next one scheduled for Wednesday at the state
Also Wednesday, legislative leaders and OHA chairman Clayton Hee
have meetings scheduled with Gov. Ben Cayetano, who was due home from a trip to
California and Washington, D.C.
After the court’s ruling last week, the
governor said he had the authority to remove the eight trustees who were
elected in the last OHA election, since the ruling nullifies the election
results. A ninth trustee was appointed by the governor and isn’t subject to the
The governor’s comments sparked a major outcry from Native
Hawaiians and others, who accused him of trying to commandeer the trustee
The ruling and the governor’s comments have led to calls
of civil disobedience among Native Hawaiians and their supporters.