Native Hawaiians, organized by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, marched yesterday from Iolani Palace to the state Capitol.

House stops
blocking OHA cash


By Pat Omandam

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has already cleared its first hurdle of the young 2003 session after state lawmakers agreed legislative approval was not needed to pay OHA about $12 million in undisputed ceded-land revenues.

Legislature 2003

Legislature Directory

Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

House Speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo) said yesterday after meetings with OHA officials and House attorneys that he now believes Republican Gov. Linda Lingle has the administrative authority to order departments to pay OHA its one-fifth share of revenue not in dispute from ceded or public trust lands.

"The governor, at this point in time, can do it administratively," Say said.

Last month, the House leadership insisted Lingle -- who had made a campaign promise to pay OHA the past-due funds -- could not make such an appropriation without legislative approval. Lingle acquiesced and planned to submit an emergency bill this session to address the issue, but does not have to now.

Lingle said yesterday the money is already accounted for in a special fund and is waiting to be paid. But first, she wants the state attorney general to craft a way the state can resume payments that can survive any possible legal challenge.

Opponents to the payments include Ken Conklin, a retired teacher, who said all ceded-land payments to OHA are disputed and are illegal.

"The era of 'Hawaiians-only' government programs in Hawaii should be ended, just like the era of 'whites-only' public drinking fountains in Mississippi," Conklin said in a statement.

The issue of undisputed ceded-land revenue was raised in September 2001 after the Hawaii Supreme Court struck down Act 304, a 1990 state law that defines state revenue payments to OHA. The case centered on whether the state needed to pay OHA ceded-land revenue generated from housing sales and rentals, Hilo Hospital patient services, off-site Duty Free Shoppers and interest income.

The high court ruled Act 304 moot because it conflicted with a federal law.

Since then, OHA officials argued the state was still obligated to pay the agency 20 percent of the revenue from ceded land, and they sought back payments from revenue not in dispute.

OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said she is pleased this issue is apparently resolved. Still, she plans to have the board enact an ad hoc committee soon to keep close tabs on all of the agency's ceded-land issues.

"I'm very optimistic because I think there really are people in the Legislature that aloha Hawaiians, and they want to look for an opportunity to do things, to make some corrections," she said.

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --