Lingle presses Congress to pass Akaka Bill
The governor urges legislative action in a letter to all senators
In a letter to 55 Republicans and one independent member of the U.S. Senate*, Gov. Linda Lingle is again pressing the case for passage of the native Hawaiian recognition bill, dubbed the Akaka Bill, after its sponsor Sen. Daniel Akaka.
Lingle called action by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission to recommend against passage of the bill, S. 147, "misguided" in the letter released yesterday.
The commission said the bill would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin.
Lingle is asking that the Senate act now on the Akaka Bill, which has been stalled in Congress for six years.
"I know that there are many pressing national issues that confront you and the Senate each day. S.147, while not of such national importance, has enormous implications for Hawaii, the people of my state, and to me personally," Lingle wrote.
Lingle also included testimony from previous trips to Washington by herself and members of her administration, including Attorney General Mark Bennett.
Akaka had said the Senate's Republican majority had promised that the Senate would discuss the Hawaiian recognition bill on the Senate floor next month. Lingle noted in her letter that the bill has been refined and should be adopted quickly.
"The amended version that will be offered by Sen. Akaka, based on negotiations last summer with the administration, will not allow native Hawaiian gambling in Hawaii, will not allow any denial of civil rights, will not lead to secession (the very idea is nonsense) and will not result in any other negative consequences for Hawaii," Lingle wrote.
Supporters of the bill have worried that the negative recommendation from the Civil Rights Commission has damaged the chances of the bill.
Lingle noted the commission failed to understand the nature of the Hawaiian government before the overthrow of the monarchy and the resulting control by the United States.
"Native Hawaiians were governed by their own leaders and their own laws prior to Western contact," Lingle wrote.
"The United States recognized the Hawaiian kingdom as a sovereign nation and entered into treaties with the kingdom as far back as 1826.*
"When Hawaii was annexed, the government of the former kingdom was subordinated to the federal government.
"Therefore, the relationship had been and has continued to be political, not racial in nature," Lingle wrote.
But critics contend that recognizing a separate government entity for native Hawaiians would be a racial classification and would divide the state of Hawaii along racial lines.
Lingle said last week she planned to offer testimony supporting the bill but would not make a personal visit to Washington.
Friday, May 19, 2006
» Gov. Lingle sent a letter to 55 Republicans and one independent member of the U.S. Senate asking them to pass the Akaka Bill. A Page A5 story in yesterday's morning edition incorrectly said it was sent to all 100 Senate members. Also, the letter said that the United States entered into treaties with the Hawaiian kingdom as far back at 1826. The story incorrectly said 1926.