Saturday, May 1, 1999

OHA logo

State would pay
OHA $16 million
next year

The next step toward an
agreement requires both to split
the cost of a ceded
lands inventory

By Pat Omandam


As part of the plan, lawmakers set the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' annual revenue payment at $16.06 million next year, with hopes a completed inventory -- estimated to cost $1 million -- will lead to an agreement on what is OHA's 20 percent revenue share from ceded lands.

"I think for all of us, as general public and as Hawaiians who both have an interest in the ceded lands inventory, it will help to clarify to me what lands we are talking about that are going to be considered part of the public lands trust," said House conferee Sol Kahoohalahala (D, Lanai City).

A 1997 law required the Department of Land and Natural Resources to take an inventory of ceded lands, but OHA did not pay its $425,000 share of the $1.7 million survey because of a dispute with the state.

This new proposal requires OHA and the state to pay matching funds of $500,000.

Senate Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae) said conferees of Senate Bill 1635 SD2, HD2, CD1 dropped a previous requirement for a joint committee to study the ceded land issue after Hawaiians feared the committee would strive for a global settlement that extinguishes future claims by all Hawaiians.

"We have no intention of globally resolving this at all," Hanabusa said.

"The intent here is to find out what the ceded lands inventory is so we know what the true revenue picture is and funds going to OHA."

Hanabusa stressed that the $16.06 million revenue payment is for one year only. Once the final amount due to OHA is determined -- whether through court action or a negotiated settlement -- the $16.06 million will be credited or debited to the agency.

The state and OHA this week ceased negotiations over past-due revenues from ceded lands, leaving it up to the Hawaii Supreme Court to decide the fate of a 1996 Circuit Court ruling stating that OHA is owed money from other sources of revenue generated from ceded lands.

Kahoohalahala explained that the public lands inventory will help not just Hawaiians but the public as well, because it will determine what their 80 percent revenue share should be. It is in the state and OHA's best interests to fund the $500,000 each for the inventory, Kahoohalahala said.

"It would be a foolish position not to fund it."

All bills this legislative session are up for a vote Tuesday.

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