Lingle reaffirms her Akaka Bill opposition in letter to all senators


POSTED: Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gov. Linda Lingle has sent a letter to all 100 U.S. senators, reaffirming her opposition to the latest version of a bill that would allow native Hawaiians to create a sovereign government, but Hawaii's two senators predict the bill will pass without her support.

Lingle, who had been a supporter of the so-called Akaka Bill, which would start the process of Hawaiian sovereignty, says the latest version moves too fast and goes too far. She had the same objections when the bill passed the House last month.

Lingle objected to the bill in a letter to all members of the Senate, made public yesterday, saying the 2010 version “;deems the native Hawaiian governing entity sovereign from the state.”;

“;It grants to that entity broad and ill-defined powers,”; Lingle said.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, after whom the bill is named, replied: “;The issues raised by the governor are not new. ... In fact, many of the state's concerns were accommodated and additional language was included in the bill which passed the House of Representatives last month.”;


Yesterday in a meeting with reporters, Lingle said the bill would exempt members of the native Hawaiian entity “;from many state laws and that is a big problem.”;

She added, “;We also believe there would be a problem enforcing the anti-gambling provisions in the legislation. Since they would be sovereign, there is a question whether we could enforce it or not.”;

But Akaka said the federal government has recognized more than 500 native governments, each with sovereign immunity.

“;Under the current bill, the native Hawaiian governing entity will possess the same level of sovereign immunity provided to the more than 500 other native governments in the United States,”; he said. “;I am confident the state of Hawaii's interests are protected.”;

Akaka and fellow U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye said they support the new bill and expect it to pass.

“;With the Obama White House we have the opportunity, at long last, to provide for a meaningful process of self-determination for native Hawaiians in a manner akin to the other indigenous people of this land. I look forward to a vigorous debate and historic passage,”; said Inouye.

Akaka, the measure's chief sponsor, said he hopes to bring it to the Senate floor this year.

“;I remain optimistic about Senate passage,”; he said.

Ed Nishioka, a spokesman for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said the OHA trustees offered to help with negotiations.

“;We are encouraged that in her note transmitting her letter to our senators, the governor indicated that she 'still hold(s) out hope' for legislation she can support, and we believe the gap can be bridged,”; Nishioka said.