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2014 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 Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees has approved the following bills and resolutions to be put forward as OHA’s 2015 state legislative package:

OHA-1 OHA Budget

HB209, SB438: OHA’s budget bill requests $3.74 million 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). 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.

Take action: Help OHA support Hawai'i families and communities

Need help submitting testimony on capitol.hawaii.gov? Click here.

 

OHA-2 Hawaiian Language Assessments

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.

Take action: Support Hawaiian language immersion students

Sample Testimony:

I strongly SUPPORT [Insert HB874 or HB208] which would require the Department of Education to collaborate with the Hawaiian language community to develop accurate assessment tests for our Hawaiian language immersion students. I believe that the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language holds significant importance to the identity of our state and should be valued. As such, Hawaiian language immersion students and families who have chosen immersion education over traditional school deserve an assessment that accurately reflects their knowledge base rooted in their cultural practices. I urge the committee to PASS this bill.

Need help submitting testimony on capitol.hawaii.gov? Click here.

 

OHA-3 Native Hawaiian Law Training Course

HB207, SB436: 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.

Take action: Help ensure that policymakers make well-informed decisions

Sample Testimony:

I strongly SUPPORT [insert HB207 or SB436] which will require certain state boards and commission members to take a training course on Native Hawaiian rights and public trust law. I believe that it is important that these boards and commission members have the basic understanding about how their decisions affect Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices, public trust resources, and protections for ‘iwi kupuna and sacred sites. This bill takes a positive step forward in reaffirming the state’s commitment to Native Hawaiians and communities across the state. I urge the committee to PASS this bill.

Need help submitting testimony on capitol.hawaii.gov? Click here.

 

OHA-4 Hawaiian Crops and Small-Scale Farms

HB205, 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.

Take action: Support sustainable practices and local farmers for today and future generations

Sample Testimony:

I strongly SUPPORT HB205 which updates the State Planning Act’s agricultural objectives to support traditional Hawaiian farming techniques and crops, and small farms. Currently, our State Planning Act prioritizes sugar and pineapple industries and diversified agriculture. Although these objectives have merit, I believe it should be updated to reflect community-driven efforts to feed Hawaii’s communities through traditional Hawaiian farming practices and small farms from mauka to makai. I feel we can support the State’s efforts to further food security and self-sufficiency by prioritizing traditional Hawaiian agriculture technologies such as loko i’a (fishponds), mala (cultivated gardens), and lo’i (irrigated patches). These agricultural systems have historically fed large number Hawaiian communities with minimal impact to the environment. I urge the committee to PASS this bill.

Need help submitting testimony on capitol.hawaii.gov? Click here.

 

OHA-5 Hawaiian Plants in Public Landscaping

HB206, SB435: 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.

Take action: Support our native environment and Hawai'i's unique sense of place

Sample Testimony:

OPTION 1: I strongly SUPPORT [Insert HB206 or SB435] which phases in the increased use of Hawaiian plants in new and renovated publicly-funded landscaping projects. I believe that Hawaiian plants are important both culturally and ecologically, and the use of Hawaiian plants fosters a uniquely Hawaiian sense of place. Hawaiian plants are important because they are the foundation of Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices, and are celebrated in Native Hawaiian place names, mo’olelo, and cultural art forms such as hula. At the same time, normalizing the use of Hawaiian plants will provide essential habitat for native animals, insects, and birds, which are found only in Hawai’i. I urge the committee to PASS this bill.

OPTION 2: I strongly SUPPORT [Insert HB206 or SB435] which which phases in the increased use of Hawaiian plants in new and renovated publicly-funded landscaping projects. There are many economic benefits to landscaping with Hawaiian plants. Hawaiian plants have adapted to the local environment over hundreds or thousands of years, and can require less water, which decreases maintenance costs. Raising awareness about the value of Hawaiian plants and normalizing the use of these plants may reduce the introduction of alien invasive species, thereby protecting our native forests, native ecosystems as well as agricultural and tourism economies. I urge the committee to PASS this bill.

Need help submitting testimony on capitol.hawaii.gov? Click here.

 

OHA-6 Data Collection on Children with Incarcerated Parents

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.

Take action: Support the unique needs of Hawai'i's keiki of incarcerated parents & take the first steps towards breaking the cycle

Sample Testimony:

I strongly SUPPORT [Insert HB204, SB433 or HB998] which will require the Department of Public Safety to collect intake data relating to parents in prison and their children. Native Hawaiian children may be more likely to experience the trauma of having parents sent to prison, and there is currently no data being collected to identify these children and support more effective programs and services. I believe that if we know more about these keiki, we can better address the challenges they are experiencing. This bill could support long-term access to grant funding, providing consistent services for children of incarcerated parents, and hopefully reduce the number of children that fall through the cracks. I urge the committee to PASS this bill.

Need help submitting testimony on capitol.hawaii.gov? Click here.

 

OHA-7 Public Land Trust Revenue Reporting

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.

Take action: Improve transparency and accountability of the State by supporting SCR7

Sample Testimony:

I strongly SUPPORT SCR7 which is a resolution that requests that the executive branch provide accurate and complete Act 178 reports. Act 178 was enacted as a temporary measure to provide OHA with an annual amount of $15.1 million in public land trust revenues until further action is taken by the Legislature. I believe that the legislature, the executive branch, and OHA and its beneficiaries must have an accurate basis of data to analyze what OHA’s annual pro rata share should be. This resolution is an opportunity to revisit the long-standing issue of public land trust revenue that is owed to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which the agency uses to improve the conditions of Native Hawaiians. I urge the committee to PASS this measure.

Need help submitting testimony on capitol.hawaii.gov? Click here.

 

 

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