Akaka bill wording divides support - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Akaka bill wording divides support

Gov. Linda Lingle Gov. Linda Lingle
Rep. Neil Abercrombie Rep. Neil Abercrombie
Hoku Aikau Hoku Aikau
Rep. Mazie Hirono Rep. Mazie Hirono
Rep. Doc Hastings in 2006 Rep. Doc Hastings in 2006

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WASHINGTON (HawaiiNewsNow) - Proponents argue additions to the body of the Akaka Bill make it stronger even though Gov. Linda Lingle disagrees.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie introduced the changes on the House floor.

"As a candidate for governor myself, I am completely comfortable with the language of the substitute and believe no governor, no matter who it is, will be disadvantaged," he said.

The new wording includes an addition in Section 9. It says there shall be no Indian country in the state of Hawaii, and members of a Native Hawaiian government will be subject to state and federal courts.

But Lingle said the new language makes activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity "almost completely free from state and county regulation."

"What this new version does is bring the Native Hawaiian governing entity more in line in parity as an equal partner in status to the state government," UH professor Hoku Aikau said.

Aikau teaches on the Akaka Bill. She said the substance of the new version closely mirrors the old and should not be a big concern.

"I don't think it's a good bill," she said.

Many in congress agree.

US Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, voiced objection to the method behind the rewrite.

"This rewritten text that Rep. Abercrombie substituted was drafted behind closed doors away from public view," he said.

Lingle also said under the new bill a Native Hawaiian entity would start with broad governmental powers and authorities with negotiations to follow. She favors negotiations first.

"In conversation with Governor Lingle today, we concluded that we agree to disagree," Abercrombie said.

Hawaii's congressional delegation said the new bill's wording addresses Lingle's objections and lays the ground rules for settling disputes through negotiation rather than litigation.

But like the rest of the bill, it's open to interpretation and argument.

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