Senate unlikely to revisit failed OHA settlement
Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees are asking the state Senate to reconsider the rejection of a proposed $200 million state settlement offer for use of ceded lands.
But Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman of the Water and Land Use Committee, rated the chances as "less than 50 percent" when asked whether the Senate would reconsider the proposal.
Trustees and supporters held a news conference yesterday to ask the Legislature to continue deliberations toward approving the settlement agreed to by OHA and Gov. Linda Lingle.
The settlement would clear up 30-year-old claims about revenues due OHA from the use of Hawaiian monarchy lands. OHA would get $13 million in state funds, plus an additional $15 million a year, plus more than 180 acres on Oahu and the Big Island.
Critics have said the agreement might not be that good a deal and that there has not been enough information about how the settlement was reached.
On Monday three Senate committees froze the House-passed bill authorizing the settlement.
Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, also said there is little chance the Legislature will vote on the proposal this year.
Tokuda (D, Kaneohe-Kailua) said she has not seen any interest in either the House or Senate to revive the bill.
"When the three committees voted to hold the bill, we sent a clear message that we did not intend to pass it this year. We want OHA and the administration to work on it," Tokuda said.
So far, Tokuda said, the issue has divided the Hawaiian community, and she wants a settlement that "will unite the Hawaiian people."
Haunani Apoliona, OHA chairwoman, said she thought the settlement would pass the Senate if all 25 senators had a chance to vote on it.
"We are committed to doing what we can before the gavel bangs down on this session," Apoliona said, adding that she would have to confer with the rest of the board about future actions if OHA fails to get legislative approval of the settlement.