Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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Akaka submits new version of Hawaiian recognition act

Passing the measure would be tough in the lame-duck session and get even harder next year

By Star-Advertiser staff


U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka has introduced a compromise version of a native Hawaiian federal recognition bill and is waiting to hear from Senate leaders whether legislation can move during a lame-duck session before the end of the year.

The version was negotiated between the state's congressional delegation and Gov. Linda Lingle's administration in July and has the support of the governor. If Akaka is given time on the Senate floor this year, however, the version would likely be offered as an amendment to an older version of the bill that moved through the committee process.

"It was just to get it on the record and to show the world that we are going to honor the agreement with Lingle," explained Jesse Broder Van Dyke, an Akaka spokesman.

The bill would establish a process for Hawaiians to form their own governing entity and negotiate with the federal and state governments on land use and cultural issues. The compromise reached with Lingle would protect the state's regulatory power over public health and safety during the negotiations.

Akaka, D-Hawaii, likely needs 60 votes to break Republican procedural opposition in the 100-member Senate. Akaka has been relying on one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to help him get to 60 votes. Murkowski lost in the GOP primary but has won in the general election as a write-in candidate.

If the bill clears the Senate, it would have to go back to the House for approval, since the House passed a different version of the bill earlier this year.

Clearing both chambers would be difficult given the short amount of time left this year. The bill may have an even more difficult road next year, when Republicans take over the House and increase their ranks in the Senate.

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