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Legislature Approves $1B for Native Hawaiian Initiatives

May 5, 2022, 9:45 AM HST
* Updated May 5, 11:32 AM
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The Native Hawaiian Legislative Caucus announced today that the Hawai’i State Legislature has appropriated over $1 billion in funding to projects and initiatives set forth by the caucus.

Compared to 2021, where over $78 million was appropriated towards Native Hawaiian initiatives, the $1 billion funded this session is historic as the legislature makes clear that supporting the advancements of Native Hawaiians is a top priority.

Co-chaired by Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole (Senate District 24 -Kāne‘ohe, MCBH, Kailua, He‘eia and ‘Āhuimanu) and Rep. Daniel Holt (House District 29 –Kalihi, Pālama, ʻIwilei and Chinatown), the Native Hawaiian Legislative Caucus’ priorities included addressing the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands waitlist, settling the Kalima Case, and planning the Mauna Kea Stewardship and oversight authority.

“We are on the precipice of celebrating the most consequential legislative session in 100 years,” Keohokalole said in a press release about the allocation. “Regardless of what community or island you represent, the issues that we were able to address this session truly impact us all. This is a great starting point for addressing many issues faced by our state and sets the stage for what we need to address going forward.”

“We want to be sure that we thank everyone who advocated for these issues for decades,” Holt added. “We aimed to do the best that we could to keep these issues in the forefront as we moved through this year’s session. It was truly a collective experience between community advocates and legislators, and we encourage people to keep engaging with this process so that all of our voices are heard in the years to come.”

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Bill highlights from the 2022 session include:

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HB 2511: Appropriates $600 million to DHHL to pursue a multi-pronged approach to eliminating its waitlist.

SB 3041: Appropriates $335,557,607.93 for the Kalima Case vs. DHHL.

SB 2021: Appropriates $64 million to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for a portion of the income and proceeds from the public land trust.

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HB 2024: Appropriates $14 million for the startup and transition planning costs for the Mauna Kea Stewardship and oversight authority. Appropriates $350,000 for K-12 public education programs in astronomy-related fields of learning.

HB 1600: Included in the state budget is:

$38 million to address staffing recruitment, training, and provide Hawaiian language immersion for students in DOE schools. Also includes classroom renovations.

$10,000,000 for Planning and Development for Hawaiian Homesteads.$10,000,000 for capital improvements to Bishop Museum.

$7,500,000 to support programming and operations of the Bishop Museum.

$2,889,496 and 14 positions for the ‘Imiloa Immersion Program at UH Hilo.

$400,000 in additional funding for operating expenses at the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve.

$200,000 for the Aha Moku Advisory Committee.

$117,019 for Papahana ‘o Kaiona Alternative Learning Program. Papahana ‘o Kaiona integrates both traditional and culture education where class is taught in the classroom setting and at various sites like the kalo farm.

HB 1894: Allows the use of both traditional Native Hawaiian burial practices and environmentally-friendly burial practices by including water cremation in the treatment and disposal of human remains.

HB 1768: Exempts traditional and customary kalo cultivation practices from the existing process for disposition of water rights.

HB 2466: Taro cultivation tax exemption.

HR 130: Apologizing to the Native Hawaiian people for the prohibition in Hawai’i schools of the instructional use of the Hawaiian language from 1896 to 1986.

SCR 121: Urging the counties and the State to work with Huamakahikina and kumu hula to establish policies protecting hula.

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