(By Wendy OSHER Â© 2009)
About 40 residents showed up at the Paukukalo Community Center last night for the second in a series of statewide hearings hosted by the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs. Committee Chair and Representative Mele Carroll of Maui explained progress on a bill that would give $200 million in past due land revenues to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
“There is concern-is this the only thing that we can actually go after-that’s what part of this presentation is about….There are certain parcels in different communities. Like in Hilo, one of the parcels is Banyan Tree Drive. If people there, especially Native Hawaiians, are concerned and want to know what are you going to do with it and what kind of revenues it will bring-that’s the discussion we want to have,” Carroll said.
The funds cover unresolved claims for a 30 year period between 1978 and 2008. Maui OHA representative Judge Boyd Mossman notes that a similar bill failed to pass last year in part because of lack of public hearings and disagreement over payment amounts into the future.
“This bill doesn’t include anything that goes into the future. It doesn’t resolve or settle anything going into the future. All it does is say, `State, you owe us for 30 years of unpaid debt. Can you pay it up please?’ Actually it’s 31 years now, since we didn’t get it last year. Had we got it last year, we would have been $200 million richer plus $10 million in interest, but we didn’t get it so now we’re at zero,” said Mossman.
The committee moves on to Kona today, Hilo tomorrow, Kauai on Thursday, and Oahu on Saturday, when a decision will be made.
All neighbor island meetings begin with a briefing at 6 p.m. followed by a hearing at 6:05 p.m. The Kona meeting is at Kealakehe Elementary School; Hilo’s meeting is at Keaukaha Elementary School; and Kauai’s hearing is at King Kaumualii Elementary School.
EXPLANATION OF 2009 DRAFT SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
February 9, 2009
By Bill Meheula, attorney of OHA
In the event HB 901 or any similar OHA public land trust past due revenue bill is enacted, the Attorney General will insist on a settlement agreement because he needs to insure that the State of Hawaii obtains a release from OHA of claims for income and proceeds from the lands held by the State as a public trust under sections 4 and 6 Article XII of the Hawaii Constitution for the period 1978-2008.
Similarly, from OHA’s perspective, OHA needs a settlement agreement to insure that only said past due claims are released and not other claims. For example, last session the proposed settlement agreement also included a release of income and proceeds claims going forward in addition to past due claims. The 2009 proposed legislation does not include a release going forward claims. Accordingly, the 2009 settlement agreement clearly does not include going forward claims.
Last session, the proposed settlement agreement initially included language that some felt was overly broad. Therefore, in March 2008, the following changes were made to the release language to address those concerns:
OHA releases, waives, and forever discharges any and all claims of any kind concerning, relating to, or arising out of controversies at law and in equity, known or unknown, now existing or hereafter arising, established, or inchoate, arising out of or in any right OHA or any other person or entity may have to income, and proceeds, or any other tangible right, item, or benefit, of any kind or nature whatsoever, or the equivalents of such income and proceeds of any kind or nature whatsoever, from the lands held by the State as a public land trust lands under sections 4 and 6 of Article XII of the Constitution or any statute or act.
OHA used this same revised language in the 2009 proposed draft settlement agreement.
The Attorney General has not yet approved the OHA Draft of the current Settlement Agreement.