OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

2019 OHA Legislative Package

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 to be introduced as OHA’s 2019 state legislative package. Please continue to check this page for updates on these measures. To receive alerts about opportunities to testify at upcoming hearings, please fill out the “STAY ENGAGED” form located in the sidebar to the right of this page.

OHA’s past legislative efforts for 2014, 20152016, 2017, and 2018 are also available online.

Bill numbers and links to the bills’ status and text webpages on the Hawaiʻi State Legislature’s website will be posted when they become available.    

OHA-1: Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Budget

OHA’s budget bill requests $3.98 million in state general funds for each of the next two fiscal years to support OHA’s budget plans for the upcoming biennium (FY2019-2020/FY2020-2021). While still maintaining the three historical provisos (social services, legal services, and education improvement), OHA-1 also requests $500,000 in general funds for housing programs.  This bill proposes matching OHA trust fund resources with the requested state general funds.  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’s beneficiaries.

Learn more about OHA-1. Read the bill and review the infographics

To be scheduled

OHA-2: Charter School Facilities Funding

Addressing public charter schools’ facilities needs has been a critical and longstanding issue for the charter school community and its supporters.  Currently, start-up charter schools must pay for their substantial facilities lease and rental costs, and conversion schools may have to pay for substantial maintenance, repair and facilities costs. Charter schools use their already-stretched per-pupil operational funds to cover these facilities expenses.  Meanwhile, these facilities costs are not borne by schools under the Hawaiʻi Department of Education.  Despite strong support and demonstrated need, efforts to seek appropriations for charter schools’ facilities costs have not been successful.  In recognition of the need to provide facilities funding for charter schools, an existing statute already contemplates legislative appropriations and bond authorizations to cover charter school facilities costs; tasks the State Public Charter School Commission with the development of criteria for the distribution of appropriated facilities funding; and further establishes and tasks the Facilities Funding Working Group to advise on the prioritization of funding distribution, pursuant to such criteria.  This concurrent resolution highlights the charter school facilities funding statute, and urges the State Public Charter School Commission to prepare a report to the 2020 State Legislature on its criteria for facilities funding distribution, as well as the prioritization of funding as advised by the Facilities Funding Working Group.  This resolution would also urge the Commission, with input from the Working Group, to provide to the legislature proposed recommendations and legislation, including recommendations relating to funding expenditures for lease and rental payments.

Learn more about OHA-2. Read the bill, and read the white paper

To be scheduled

OHA-3: Annual Public Land Trust Accounting

Act 178 (Session Laws 2006) requires the state, through the Department of Land and Natural Resources (“DLNR”), to provide an annual accounting of the total revenues generated from the use of Public Land Trust lands.  The annual reporting must include the amount of revenues transferred to OHA and the amount retained by the state.  However, reporting and transferring has been inconsistent, and no one in the state is actively verifying the accuracy of individual agencies’ reporting and transferring of revenues to OHA.  This measure would codify Act 178’s reporting requirements, with supplementary provisions to 1) explicitly reaffirm that all state Public Land Trust revenues must be accounted for and reported on, regardless if such revenues are subject to OHA’s pro rata share; 2) explicitly reaffirm that UH is also subject to Act 178’s reporting requirements; and 3) require the DLNR to identify and provide a rationale why for any instance where 20% of the revenues received from Public Land Trust lands are not transferred to OHA.

Learn more about OHA-3. Read the bill and read the white paper

To be scheduled

OHA-4: Addressing Native Hawaiian Mental Health Needs Through Culturally Informed Services and Programs

This measure would require three of the 21 members of the Hawai‘i State Mental Health Council (“Council”) to have demonstrated knowledge or work experience involving Native Hawaiian concepts of well-being, culturally-grounded mental health methodologies, or traditional healing or health practices.  Data shows that the Native Hawaiian community may suffer from significant mental health-associated challenges, with Native Hawaiians demonstrating high rates of childhood abuse, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts by both adults and keiki, feelings of hopelessness, self-harm, postpartum depression, kūpuna depressive disorders, and negative self-health assessments by wāhine.  Unfortunately, many Native Hawaiians facing mental health challenges may find that culturally-grounded mental health programs or treatment opportunities are not consistently available, despite the recognized potential of such mental health approaches to significantly improve their mental and emotional well-being.  As an advisory body to the Department of Health on the state’s mental health policies and infrastructure, the Council has the potential to promote the development and implementation of culturally-grounded mental health policies and programs that can systemically address the mental health-associated challenges of the Native Hawaiian communities as well as the broader public.  Accordingly, requiring three members of the Council to possess expertise or experience in Native Hawaiian cultural concepts, mental health methodologies, or traditional healing or health practices may help to significantly improve the mental health status of the Native Hawaiian and broader communities.

Learn more about OHA-4. Read the bill, and read the white paper

To be scheduled

OHA-5: Unsecured Bail 

In 2018, all of Hawai‘i’s jails were overcrowded and operating over capacity from at least 27%, and in more cases 50-85%; Native Hawaiians disproportionately bear the burden of Hawaiʻi’s jail overcrowding issues.  Many of those awaiting trial are in jail simply because they are too poor to afford bail, even when they pose little to no potential flight risk, and pose no threat to individuals or the community.  Such individuals may lose their jobs, homes, and even custody of their children, due solely to their inability to post cash bail.  This measure would seek to provide relief to Hawai‘i’s jail overcrowding issues while mitigating the unnecessary harms that cash bail may inflict on indigent individuals awaiting trial, by offering judges the additional option to allow for unsecured or partially secured bail.  Under this system, defendants who would experience significant financial hardship by paying for bail or a bail bondsman could be released instead on a bond requiring the payment of only part of the bail amount or no security at all.  This would enable the release of indigent defendants without cash payments up front, but would maintain accountability as defendants and their families could still be liable for the bail amounts if the defendants fail to appear for court or commit new crimes while out on bail.

Learn more about OHA-5. Read the bill, and read the white paper

To be scheduled


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