Homestead Leaders Review Options for Federal Oversight of State of Hawaii Management of Hawaiian Lands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 4, 2011

Honolulu, Hawaii – The Native Hawaiian Policy Center has begun a series of homestead leadership discussions on options to codify processes and procedures for the state of Hawaii to follow in the implementation of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) and the Hawaiian Home Land Recovery Act (HHLRA).

“One of the vital aspects of the enactment of any federal law is rule making that clarifies policies to implement a particular law,” said Robin Danner, President of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.  “With the HHCA enacted in 1920 and the HHLRA in 1995, very few if any rules have been established by the federal government to guide the state of Hawaii and its Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to follow.  We will be discussing the process of federal rule making and how it relates to improving how the state administers our land trust.”

The HHCA and the HHLRA are federal laws that govern Hawaiian home lands, also known as homesteads.  The Policy Center will be reaching out to homestead leaders across the state to lay out how federal agencies promulgate rules as a regular course of business when implementing laws enacted by congress.

“Rule making, especially when it engages the actual people impacted, in this case our homestead communities, can be an excellent tool to streamlining processes,” Danner remarked.  “For example if the federal law says that land exchanges made by DHHL require federal approval, it would be beneficial for everyone to know what information should be considered to obtain federal approval.  The discussions we’ll be having is to identify what kind of rules should be followed by DHHL, and perhaps most important of all, what role homestead beneficiary leaders have.”

The policy center recognizes homestead associations, Hui Kakoo Aina Hoopulapula (Hui) and the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands (AHHL) as key stakeholders, as well as the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly (SCHHA), a network of more than 30 homestead associations representing lessees and waitlist beneficiaries.

The focus of the discussions will educate and train homestead leaders on the federal rule making process, and then begin dialogue on areas of the HHCA and HHLRA that are most important for the Obama administration to implement a rules process.

“First and foremost, it’s important for homestead leaders to know their HHCA, and perhaps more importantly, to become highly knowledgeable about the federal administrative rules process,” said Kamaki Kanahele, SCHHA Chairman.  “In 50 years since state government has had the responsibility of administering the HHCA, no one has taken the initiative to do what is done in almost every other federal law which is to establish the process and procedures to ensure the law is being implemented properly.  Engaging the Obama administration over the next 2 years with homestead leaders and the Abercrombie administration at the state level to accomplish this vital step is a top priority.”

The discussion schedule will include homestead leaders democratically elected to their association boards, DHHL officials, island commissioners, and policy experts in the area of homestead related laws.

The discussions are scheduled over a 5 month period, to produce training results and a list of priorities to submit to the Hawaiian Homes Commission, the Governor, the White House Initiative on Pacific Islanders and the Secretary of the Interior.

“It’s an exciting and new day in Hawaii, just as our Governor campaigned on,” said Kamaki Kanahele, SCHHA Chairman.  “As the homestead leaders take their seat at the table of how their land trust is managed, there is no question that important improvements will be made over the next 2 years.”

For more information on the homestead federal rule making consultation and trainings, contact policy@hawaiiancouncil.org or info@schha.org.

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