HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Akaka bill on Wednesday, cleared a groundbreaking hurdle and now a vote could come down this month in the U.S. Senate.
It's a dramatic twist in the fight for the Akaka bill, or the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.
Governor Linda Lingle has changed her mind and now supports it, after secret negotiations with Hawaii's senators.
On Hawaii News Now at 5:30, both Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka were on live, to give details of the deal.
They said they've now won Governor Lingle's support after making a few changes to the language of the bill.
"We sat down and worked together and now we've come to this great day. Everything is in line now," said Senator Inouye.
"I'm delighted. I'm optimistic and it brings about a united front," said Senator Akaka.
"So these amendments make clear that the state retains the full authority to regulate to protect public health and safety and also make clear that this bill do est provide anybody immunity from any criminal prosecution, we think those are good changes, they address our concerns and with these changes we can fully support the bill again and we are very happy about that," said Mark Bennett, Hawaii Attorney General.
The Akaka bill would allow Native Hawaiians to form their own governing entity to negotiate with the U.S. Government.
They're the only indigenous people left in the U.S. who are not federally recognized.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) praises the agreement.
The Akaka bill passed the U.S. House in February.
If it passes the Senate, it would go back to the House for a final vote.
And with the President's support, it's possible the measure could become law this year.