Saturday, April 24, 1999

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OHA plan on claims
piques gov’s interest

By Pat Omandam


A possible plan to make the Office of Hawaiian Affairs liable for all future beneficiary claims against the public land trust could help settlement talks between the state and OHA, Gov. Ben Cayetano said.

"If that's a proposal, I think that it would be a significant move and something that we need to take a look at, and study very carefully the legal ramifications," he said yesterday.

Cayetano was responding to questions about OHA drafting legislation to relieve the state of any future claims involving OHA's share of ceded-land revenues.

As part of a settlement, state negotiators want OHA to agree that it can no longer sue the state over ceded-land claims.

The state in 1988 waived its sovereign immunity over the public land trust and the Hawaiian Home Lands trust, allowing Hawaiians to sue the state over breach of trust claims, which OHA has done.

OHA legal counsel Kali Watson yesterday said negotiations are at a point where an agreement is close enough that it can be done by the end of next week.

House and Senate conferees are keeping alive a Senate bill that could be rewritten to include any settlement reached between the state and OHA.

"We've been keeping in contact with the various groups, the House and Senate, and I think there's a real desire on their part to see a settlement materialize," Watson said.

"So I'm real hopeful. But again, time will tell."

The bill that would be used for the settlement, Senate Bill 1635 SD 2, HD 2, was first heard in conference on Thursday. A second meeting is set for Monday.

OHA has organized a rally for Monday to show support for Hawaiian issues.

It will be from 10 a.m. to sunset, and is to remind lawmakers such issues will not go away.

OHA Ceded Lands Ruling

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