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2015 OHA Legislation

As part of its mandate to advocate for Native Hawaiians, each year OHA submits a package of proposed bills to the Hawaii State Legislature, and the agency’s Board of Trustees also votes to take positions on a wide variety of legislation impacting the Hawaiian community. The following are summaries of the bills and resolution approved by the OHA Board of Trustees and put forward as OHA’s 2015 state legislative package, as well as some measures resulting from community engagement and advocacy which OHA identified as priorities for support.


2015 SUCCESSFUL PRIORITY BILLS

OHA-1 OHA Budget
STATUS: Act 170

HB209: OHA will receive $3million in state general funds for each of the next two fiscal years to support OHA’s budget plans for the upcoming biennium (FY2015-2016/FY2016-2017), which will be matched by approximately $6.4 million per year in Native Hawaiian trust funds. Included in this bill are proposals to match OHA trust funds with state general funds to support programs that provide legal, social, income, health, housing and education services to Native Hawaiians. By passing this measure, the state would reaffirm its commitment to address the needs of Native Hawaiians by supporting programs and operations that will directly benefit OHA and its beneficiaries.

OHA-3 Native Hawaiian Law Training Course
STATUS: Act 169

HB207: This bill ensures that Hawai’i’s board and commission members are familiarized with their legal responsibilities regarding Native Hawaiian rights and the public trust doctrine. As government entities, state boards and commissions regularly make decisions involving public trust resources, and have an affirmative duty to protect and enforce the legal rights of Native Hawaiians. However, while board and commission members are often selected for their depth of expertise in a range of specialized areas, they may not necessarily have specific knowledge of their additional duties relating to Native Hawaiian rights and the public trust. By requiring certain board and commission members to attend an OHA-sponsored training course on these topics, this bill provides these individuals with the tools they need to fulfill their legal responsibilities. Learn more about the bill by reading the whitepaper

OHA-4 Hawaiian Crops and Small-Scale Farms
STATUS: Act 31

SB434: The state planning act establishes several objectives for Hawai’i’s economy with respect to agriculture, including the continued viability of our sugar and pineapple industries; the growth and development of diversified agriculture; and the maintenance of agriculture as a dynamic and essential component of the state’s strategic, economic and social well-being. However, these objectives do not explicitly include the promotion of traditional farming methods or the development of small scale farms, as may be critical to maintaining our islands’ food security in a changing climate. Accordingly, consistent with recommendations from the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development and the Hawai’i State Taro Security and Purity Task Force, this measure updates the state’s agricultural objectives to include the perpetuation, promotion and growth of traditional Hawaiian farming methods and crops; as well as the growth and development of small scale farms. Learn more about the bill by reading the whitepaper.

OHA-5 Hawaiian Plants in Public Landscaping
STATUS: Act 233

HB206: Native and Polynesian-introduced plants are an integral part of Hawai’i’s unique cultural and ecological heritage, and their use in landscaping promotes a Hawaiian sense of place, cultural preservation, biodiversity, biosecurity and ecosystem management. Accordingly, the state procurement code was amended more than 15 years ago to require that native and Polynesian-introduced plants be used in publicly-funded landscaping wherever and whenever feasible. Unfortunately, the current language of the law has not ensured that all new or renovated publicly-funded landscaping projects utilize Hawaiian plants, as originally envisioned by lawmakers more than a decade ago. This bill amends the state procurement code to require that a clear and progressively-increasing percentage of all future publicly-funded landscaping projects utilize native and Polynesian-introduced plants. Learn more about the bill by reading the whitepaper.

OHA-6 Data Collection on Children with Incarcerated Parents
STATUS: Act 16

HB204, SB433 and alternate version HB998: A growing body of national research demonstrates that children whose parents are sent to jail may experience great trauma, as a result of their parents’ incarceration. This bill takes a long-awaited first step towards identifying and addressing the unique needs of Hawai’i’s keiki with incarcerated parents, by authorizing the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to collect intake data relating to parents in prison and their children. This bill would require DPS, through its prisoner intake centers, to collect or coordinate the collection of data on the number of parents entering the prison system, the number of children of such parents, and any other information the department may find useful in facilitating services to meet these keiki’s needs. Learn more about the bill by reading the whitepaper.

Hawaiian Fishpond Restoration
STATUS: Act 230

HB393: This bill facilitates the restoration, repair, maintenance, and operation of traditional Hawaiian fishponds by waiving Hawaiʻi Department of Health water certification for fishpond projects that have been vetted through the statewide general programmatic fishpond permit process. As recognized by this measure, the fishpond revitalization movement not only celebrates our cultural heritage, but may also be key to the future food security of our islands.

Traditional Hawaiian Burials
STATUS: Act 171

SB1166This bill clarifies that laws relating to the abuse of a corpse do not apply to traditional Native Hawaiian methods of preparing and burying iwi, thereby supporting the perpetuation of these sacred practices.


UNSUCCESSFUL BILLS

OHA-2 Hawaiian Language Assessments
STATUS: Dead

HB208, SB437 and alternative versions HB874, SB778: From school year 2011-2012 through school year 2013-2014, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (DOE) administered a version of the Hawai’i State Assessment that was translated from English into the Hawaiian language for 3rd and 4th grade students in the state’s Hawaiian language immersion program. The Hawaiian language and education communities have raised strong concerns about the negative impact that a translated test has on these students, schools and the program. Reported problems from the translated test include cultural and translation biases, translation inaccuracies, and terminology inconsistencies, which have resulted in highly inaccurate assessments of Hawaiian language immersion schools and students. In addition, students in the 5th grade and above take the assessment in English, but this is not appropriate for students whose primary language of instruction is Hawaiian. Accordingly, these bills require the DOE to develop independent reading, math and science assessments originally in the Hawaiian language for Hawaiian language immersion students in accordance with federal accountability assessment requirements. Learn more about the bill by reading the whitepaper.

OHA-7 Public Land Trust Revenue Reporting
STATUS: Dead

SCR7, HCR6 : Enacted in 2006, Act 178 established OHA’s interim pro-rata share of public land trust revenues at $15.1 million annually and requires state agencies to report all public land trust receipts to the Legislature annually. OHA worked with the Office of the Attorney General and the state agencies to conduct a financial review of the public land trust receipts for fiscal year 2012. The preliminary findings of this review indicate that significant public land trust receipts went unreported in the state’s fiscal year 2012 Act 178 report. Some but not all of these omissions were corrected in the 2013 and 2014 Act 178 reports. Accordingly, this resolution requests that the executive branch provide accurate and complete Act 178 reports.

As part of its mandate to advocate for Native Hawaiians, each year OHA submits a package of proposed bills to the Hawaii State Legislature, and the agency’s Board of Trustees also votes to take positions on a wide variety of legislation impacting the Hawaiian community. The following are summaries of the bills and resolution approved by the OHA Board of Trustees and put forward as OHA’s 2015 state legislative package, as well as some measures resulting from community engagement and advocacy which OHA identified as priorities for support.

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