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Inouye confident Akaka Bill issues will be resolved


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POSTED: Thursday, December 31, 2009

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said changes in the Akaka Bill that drew opposition from the state administration earlier this month are being ironed out in Honolulu meetings during the congressional holiday recess.

“;It has been worked out,”; Inouye told reporters yesterday. “;There is a group working on it right now, from the Governor's Office, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the congressional delegation.”;

Inouye said once agreement is reached, a Senate vote on an amended Akaka Bill could come in February.

“;Certain changes had to be made because of constitutionality,”; said Inouye.

“;There was a slight misunderstanding,”; he said of revisions that included application of the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Bill to the Hawaiian sovereignty issue.

Gov. Linda Lingle has supported the bill, which will authorize native Hawaiians to form a government that would deal with the state and federal government, but balked when Sen. Daniel Akaka changed language in the bill that bears his name.

“;I don't blame the Governor's Office because they were not fully apprised of what was happening,”; Inouye said.

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On the subject of furloughs, the senator said he has monitored state budget-cutting measures that cost public schools 17 class days this school year.

“;The one thing that has deeply concerned me is that throughout the negotiations and discussions, very seldom do you hear the word 'student' being used. It's 'teachers' pay' or 'state budget.' I would hope that the responsible parties ... would get together and determine what is essential for our kids, and then work around it. Focus on the kids. It is not about the budget and not about teachers pay. That's the way I look at it.”;

Inouye spoke on several issues in a wide-ranging hour interview with local reporters.

» He said President Barack Obama “;acted responsibly”; in response to an apparent terrorist bombing attempt aboard an airline flight last week. “;Critics insisted he should act promptly ... but I would prefer to have a leader who investigates first and determines what he's dealing with. To just rush in to make people fearful ... that's irresponsible.”;

» Inouye will not endorse a gubernatorial candidate until after the primary election, he said. “;To suggest that I am a complete blank and don't prefer one over the other is a lie, because we all have our preferences.”; He said he has worked with both major candidates “;one as mayor, one as member of Congress and I think our relationships have been good.”;

» He announced Inouye family news. Son Ken Inouye and his wife, Jessica, are expecting the birth of a daughter in May. She will be named Margaret Mary and called Maggie. Inouye's wife of 57 years, also named Maggie, died in 2006.

“;I'm going to be the oldest grandfather in the U.S. Senate,”; Inouye said. “;My colleagues are talking about great-grandchildren.”;

» The senator will go to Japan on Jan. 11 for discussions with government leaders about the proposed closing of U.S. bases on Okinawa. He said he will meet with the Japanese prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister and parliamentary leaders and Okinawan prefectural government officials. It's “;not to tell them what to do, but to open up lines of communication.”;

He said that although bases may be moved from Okinawa, “;the relationship we have with Japan at this moment is a crucial one.”;