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HAC Briefs Party Leadership on 2018 Priorities

Hawaiian Affairs Caucus Briefs Party Leadership
on Its Preliminary Legislative Priorities for 2018

Legislative Priorities 2018
DPH Presentation January 11, 2018

Mission:  The Hawaiian Affairs Caucus supports and promotes cultural values of aloha, mālama ‘āina, ho‘okipa, kuleana and, above all, pono, in alignment with the values of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. The Hawaiian Affairs Caucus seeks to address issues of self-determination responsibilities and rights, protection of Hawaiian cultural practices and sacred sites, pono economic development, distribution of wealth to those segments of society most in need, protection of Hawaii’s natural resources (on the ‘āina and in the kai), housing, health, education, and accountability of public servants identified as Democrats to the mission and goals of the Democratic Party of Hawaii with regard to the above objectives.

Legislative Priorities:

  1. Fulfilling the State’s Public Land Trust Revenue Obligations: Nearly 40 years have passed since the state formally recognized that “twenty percent of all funds derives from the public land trust” must be set aside to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for the betterment of the conditions of Native Hawaiians.  However, after decades of litigation and negotiation over the interpretation of this requirement, in 2006, the Legislature and OHA agreed to $15.1 million as a temporary amount that should be transferred annually to OHA.  Act 178 also required state agency reporting to provide data on what revenue was being generated from the use of public land trust (PLT) lands.  Based on independent audits and the state’s own accounting, this “interim” amount falls far short of the 20 percent of PLT revenues that Native Hawaiians and OHA are entitled to.  INTENT:  This measure will seek to ensure that OHA’s constitutional and statutory right to a pro rata share is more adequately reflected and that the state’s PLT obligations to Native Hawaiians are fulfilled.
  2. Expanding the Native Hawaiian Law Training Course: Since 2015, members of various state boards and commissions have been required to attend an OHA sponsored Native Hawaiian Law Training Course, making key state policy makers more mindful of their legal obligations to Hawaiians, Hawaii’s political history, the public trust, Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights, water law and Native Hawaiian burials.   INTENT:   This measure would broaden the impact of the highly successful Native Hawaiian Law Training Course by expanding the list of required attendees to include relevant state and county officials, ensuring that a broader range of individuals who develop and implement policies involving our cultural and natural resources are more fully aware of the state’s obligations to Native Hawaiians and the public Trust.
  3. Supporting Housing Security and Asset Building for Low-Income Beneficiaries: Certain Individual Housing Account (IHA) holders can deduct IHA savings from their adjusted gross income up to a certain limit, reducing their state taxes and allowing them to qualify or maintain their eligibility for tax credits and social services as they save to purchase a home or secure a rental unit.  However these deductions are currently not allowed for IHAs administered by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including programs used by many of OHA’s beneficiaries.  There is also no deduction for rental IHAs, which are used by houseless individuals and families to secure rental units.  INTENT:  This proposal would promote the financial security of low income beneficiaries who save money in CDFI- administered IHAs by allowing such individuals to deduct their IHA savings from their adjusted gross income.  More specifically, this measure would expand the AGI deduction categories to include CDFI-administered IHA’s and rental IHA’s. The bill also calls for updating the original AGI deduction limits for IHA’s, established in 1982, which have remained for individuals and $10,000 for married couples:  a rental IHA limit of $2500 would also be established.
  4. Reclaiming Na Pili Aina through Hawaiian Cultural Reserves: Hawaii’s Long history of changing land uses and development, in combination with changing socioeconomic and political landscapes has severed the connections between many Native Hawaiians and the lands their ‘ohana have known for generations. Protections currently in place do not serve as a comprehensive mechanism for blanket recognition, nor do they serve to restore resources, sites or practices that underlie the connection between Native Hawaiians and the ‘aina and that have already been displaced or lost by prior land use activities.  Setting aside land in certain developments for  “Hawaiian Cultural Reserves” tailored to accommodate traditional resources and cultural practices specific to their respective locales would more proactively recognize and restore the cultural significance of lands proposed for development and help to restore and perpetuate Native Hawaiian cultural connections that have been lost for decades, if not generations.  INTENT:  This measure would require counties to establish ordinances and rules for the dedication of land in certain proposed subdivisions and condominium property regimes for Hawaiian Culture Reserves purposes, subject to exceptions based on special circumstances to be determined by each county.
  5. More to come: HAC Legislative Committee Meeting, January 25, 5:30 p.m., DPH Headquarters.  Last year, over 80 bills were introduced.  Anticipate that a similar number of bills will be introduced this year covering a range of areas, including appropriations bills, OHA election, Hawaiian language, education, homeless, and health, etc.  The deadline for submission of bills is January 24, thus, after that date, we will have a better idea of bills impacting upon Native Hawaiians.
  6. Hawaiian Legislative Priorities Forum, January 16, 2018: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., The Native Hawaiian 2018 Legislative Priorities, hosted by the Ho’omanapono Political Action Committee, Room sponsor, Senator Brickwood Galluteria.  Presenters:  HPAC, Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Holomua Pu’uhonua, DHHL, CNHA, SCHHA, Rise2Vote, Native Hawaiian Legal Corp, Native Hawaiian Health Task Force Community Alliance on Prisons
  7. Peace March: January 17, 2018, 9:00 a.m.:  Peace March in observance of the 125th year since the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom from the Mauna ‘Ala Royal Mausoleum to ‘Iolani Palace.  See schedule of events at onipaakakou.org
  8. Year of the Hawaiian: Senate adopted resolution in 2017; awaiting Governor Ige designation.  Watch for activities in support.