Judiciary committee kills three OHA bills

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.

The overwhelming

sentiment of Native Hawaiians at a hearing Saturday was to kill the bills,

Hamakawa said.

“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.

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

selection process.

The ruling and the governor’s comments have led to calls

of civil disobedience among Native Hawaiians and their supporters.


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