Governor plans trip to advocate Akaka Bill
OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona appeals for Lingle to petition senators
Gov. Linda Lingle will meet with Senate Republicans next month in hopes of gaining support for the Akaka Bill before an anticipated U.S. Senate floor vote on the measure June 8.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona asked the governor in a letter yesterday to make the trip to Washington, D.C.
Lingle said in a news release yesterday that she would meet with Senate Republicans on June 5 and 6.
The Akaka Bill, called the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, would set up a federal process for recognizing native Hawaiians much like American Indians and Alaska natives.
In her letter, Apoliona said a petition for the bill to go to the Senate floor for a cloture vote will be filed June 6, alongside the Estate Tax Bill.
She said the two bills have been linked since July, though there is no connection between them.
Apoliona also said it is unclear if there are enough votes to approve the cloture petition and bring the Akaka Bill to the Senate floor. Sixty votes are needed to approve the petition.
Apoliona told Lingle that "there are a certain number of senators who may need to be reassured by you relating to what the bill does and does not do prior to committing their vote."
In a phone conversation yesterday, Lingle told Sen. Daniel Akaka she would be making the trip.
"After years of hard work, this is a critical time to gain passage of the Akaka Bill in the U.S. Senate," Lingle said in a news release.
"I appreciate that OHA and Sen. Akaka have requested my assistance in the days leading up to the cloture vote, and I look forward to joining them in Washington to continue our efforts to do what is right and fair for native Hawaiians."
During her talks with U.S. senators, Lingle said she will also counter claims made in a U.S. Civil Rights Commission report released on May 3.
The report called the Akaka Bill discriminatory.