Friday, May 08, 2015
Proposed federal rules for Hawaiian Home Lands being posted right now
by Larry Geller
Thanks to a pointer to this page at the very end of an article by Rob Perez in this morning’s Star-Advertiser, I visited the U.S. Department of the Interior web page hoping to find proposed Federal rules for how the feds will “review land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands and amendments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act proposed by the State of Hawai‘i.”. Nothing was there yet. When I went back just a minute later, there was this…
Clicking it went nowhere (“page not found”) but now the data is there. Heck, it took 95 years, I should have been a bit more patient. The link does not yet work. Keep trying.
The publication is a single page, I’ve copied it below.
From today’s paper:
After nearly a century, the U.S. government for the first time is proposing administrative rules to clarify its oversight of the federally created land trust designed to benefit thousands of Native Hawaiians.
The proposed regulations will address the process the Department of the Interior uses to evaluate changes sought by the state to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, the federal law that established the roughly 200,000-acre trust in 1921.
[Star-Advertiser p. A1, First-ever regulations will clarify Hawaiian Homes law, 5/8/2015]
The failure of the State of Hawaii to fulfill its obligations under the Hawaiian Homelands Trust is perhaps the longest running unsolved crime in the state. People have literally died waiting for their allotment.
It turns out that the federal government has been the state’s accessory in this crime.
The neglect to fulfill the state’s trust responsibility, which was a condition of statehood, is almost always under the radar—it is likely the most important “disappeared news” there is. And yet, it seems to be off-limits to both news outlets and to our state legislature, which has the power to intervene and at least repair the damage going forward. Rob Perez is on it, but aside from his excellent feature articles, there’s been silence.
The lawsuit Kalima v. State of Hawai‘I, filed in 1999, is still not resolved. It was brought by beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands trust, and is now in a protracted damage phase. I’ve watched the attorneys’ hair turn grey over the years. Perhaps the state continues to hold out hoping they’ll give up (which they won’t do).
The state’s crimes against beneficiaries are endless. Not only have many died while on the waiting list, but some have only been given land, with a requirement to build a home, when they are well into their retirement years and cannot qualify for a mortgage. It was heartbreaking to attend sessions of the Kalima trial and listen to the stories.
Judge Eden Hifo ruled on November 3, 2009 that the State of Hawaii breached its trust obligations and was liable for the delays in receiving homesteads by the beneficiaries.
And yet the state continues to fight the beneficiaries in court. Having lost the case, the state seems to be prolonging the damage phase for as long as they can get away with it, and the judiciary doesn’t see anything wrong with that.
Under a new judge the arguments in the damage phase continue. And continue. And continue.
Publication of Proposed Hawaiian Home Land Rules Governing Land Exchanges and Amendments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department is seeking comments on proposed Federal rules that seek to clarify how we review land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands and amendments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act proposed by the State of Hawai‘i.
BACKGROUND + DEPARTMENTAL STATEMENT
The health and strength of the Hawaiian Home Land Trust and the beneficiaries is among the top priorities for the U.S. Department of the Interior. We are optimistic that with input from beneficiaries, the Native Hawaiian Community, the State of Hawai‘i and others, that we can put an effective process in place that will serve the beneficiaries on and off the land. The Department seeks to do this by providing clarity about how we review land exchanges and amendments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, and also providing the State of Hawai‘i and the Department a clear path for how to work together in protecting the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust.
The proposed rules we’re issuing in the coming days seek to clarify the Federal Government’s responsibilities in helping to ensure the management of the Home Lands Trust occurs in a fair, transparent, and sustainable manner.
“The Department of the Interior takes our responsibilities for the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust and its beneficiaries seriously,” said Kris Sarri, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary - Policy, Management, and Budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior. “is the Trust is vital to the health and strength of the Native Hawaiian Community, and especially to the beneficiaries who live on the lands or are on the waiting list for a homestead lease. That's why the Department today is proposing rules for public comment that seek to clarify the process it undertakes to review land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands and amendments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act proposed by the State of Hawaii.”
The proposed rules 43 C.F.R. parts 47 & 48 seeks to deal with two specific Departmental responsibilities. They are the Department’s review of (1) proposed land exchanges involving trust lands and (2) amendments (proposed by the State of Hawai‘i) to the HHCA. The processes outlined in both parts 47 & 48 seek to build upon past experiences and success working with beneficiaries and the State (e.g., Statewide consultation efforts between 2007-2012 by the Department to obtain input on potential land exchanges and amendments to the HHCA) to protect the Trust.
Part 47 seeks to clarify for the State and the beneficiaries the Department of the Interior’s land exchange review process when Hawaiian home lands are involved, the documents the Department will use for the review, and the standards to be used in that review.
- Seeks to ensure that certain Federal laws are appropriately applied in land exchanges, including: NEPA, National Historic Preservation Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
- Seeks to ensure appraisals of properties involved in a Hawaiian Home Lands Trust land exchange meet Federal standards and that all parties can be confident in the results of the appraisals.
- Seeks to ensure all land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands are reviewed with the primary goal of protecting the interest of the Trust and its beneficiaries.
Part 48 seeks to clarify for the State and the beneficiaries the steps the Department will take to review proposed amendments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and the standards to be used in that review.
- By utilizing this rule, everyone can have confidence that our reviews will be fair, in compliance with all applicable Federal laws and completed with the primary goal of protecting the interests of the Trust and its beneficiaries.
The State of Hawai‘i, beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, the Native Hawaiian Community, and the general public are invited to comment on the proposed rules which will be available for official comment beginning Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at www.regulations.gov
The draft proposed rules are available for review now at http://www.doi.gov/ohr/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=1158567
The public comment period for these proposed rules will last 60 days from the date of publication. If the Department ultimately decides to issue a final rule it could be published within six months of the publication of the proposed rules.