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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Statement from OHA Chair on HB499

June 25, 2021

STATEMENT FROM OHA CHAIR CARMEN “HULU” LINDSEY ON HB499

I am extremely disappointed by the Governor’s recent decision to not consider HB499 for a veto. This decision by the Governor ensures that this controversial bill, which OHA and many other organizations and individuals repeatedly raised concerns about in opposition during and after the 2021 legislative session, will inevitably now become law. HB499 will represent the most damaging law to Native Hawaiian rights enacted in nearly a decade.

Forty-year lease extensions, directly negotiated between current lessees and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, threaten to prevent future generations of Native Hawaiians from ensuring the best uses of our public trust lands. Moreover, such extension authority also ignores and perpetuates the historical injustices inflicted upon the Native Hawaiian people, who continue to struggle with the intergenerational traumas that resulted from the theft of their lands and the disruption of their sovereignty, by allowing the current and future state administrations to foreclose any opportunity for Native Hawaiians to assert their claims to their stolen, ancestral lands for four decades at a time.

I now call upon the Governor to issue a moratorium on the extension of any leases under HB499, unless and until the adoption of administrative rules that can ensure transparency and accountability in the negotiation and issuance of lease extensions, and that sufficiently recognize and protect the unresolved claims of Native Hawaiians to the stolen, “ceded” lands that may be encumbered under this measure. I will also work with my fellow trustees and the community to pursue a repeal of HB499 next legislative session.

In the meantime, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to this ʻāina and the Lāhui, and we look forward to continuing to work with our community to help facilitate and further the state’s constitutional duties and moral and legal obligations to Native Hawaiians and the public trust.

OHA TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION TO HB499 RELATING TO LEASE EXTENSIONS ON PUBLIC LAND

Feb. 2, 2021 – House Committee on Water and Land

Feb. 11, 2021 – Ke Kōmike Hale o ka Hoʻomalu Mea Kemu a me ka ʻOihana Kālepa – House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce

Feb. 25, 2021 – Ke Kōmike Hale o ka ʻOihana ʻImi Kālā – House Committee on Finance

March 15, 2021 – Senate Committee on Water and Land

April 7, 2021 – Senate Committee on Ways and Means

April 16, 2021 – Conference Committee

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