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Media Release: DHHL Legislative Proposals Move Forward

(Kapolei, Oʻahu) – The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) has prepared legislative proposals to be recommended for inclusion in the Governor’s 2023 legislative package.

The request for legislative proposals went public in July. Thirty proposals were received and after DHHL consideration, ten of those draft proposals were selected. At its September meeting, the Hawaiian Homes Commission approved all of the legislative proposals presented by DHHL to move forward.

Next, the proposals will be submitted for review to the Department of the Attorney General, the Department of Budget & Finance, and the Governor. If approved, the selected proposals will be included as proposed bills in Governor Ige’s legislative package to go before the Legislature in 2023.

DHHL requested that the proposals be a good public policy for the Department and that they address operations, programs, regulations, processes, budget, and/or resources and create a benefit or an advantage for DHHL, the trust, or trust beneficiaries, or otherwise correct a deficiency.

Proposals not included in the package range from items that already have governing legislation, items where legislation is not required, and suggestions already implemented or that are in the process of being implemented or reviewed by the Department.

A summary of the 10 included proposals is provided below.

Proposal HHL-01(23) – Relating to Independent Legal

This proposal allows the Department to retain independent legal counsel to be paid by the State and use the services of the attorney general as needed.

The Department has a trust duty to its beneficiaries and in the fulfillment of its trust obligations, the Department may at times be at odds with the interests of the State.  It is at these times that the department must be assured that its counsel provides legal guidance strictly in the interest of its client.  Independent counsel that is hired and retained by the Department eliminates any cloud of uncertainty that there is a conflict of interest that the department is represented by the Attorney General’s office that also represents the State.

This measure has not been part of the Administration’s legislative package but has been introduced by several legislators over the past few years and has not passed.

Proposal HHL-02(23) – Relating to the Commission on Water Resource Management

This proposal adds the Chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission or the Chairman’s designee to the Commission on Water Resource Management.

The Water Code requires that planning decisions of the Commission on Water Resource Management ensure that sufficient water remain available for current and foreseeable development and use of Hawaiian Home Lands.  In order to further the interest of beneficiaries, the Chair of the HHC or the Chair’s designee should serve as an ex officio voting member of the Commission on Water Resource Management.

This measure has not been part of the Administration’s legislative package but has been introduced and has not passed.

Proposal HHL-03(23) – Relating to Housing

This proposal exempts any development of homestead lots or housing for DHHL from general excise taxes.

The Department provides homesteads for native Hawaiians at affordable rates when compared to similar development available in Hawaiʻi. In order to further the interest of beneficiaries, any development of homestead lots or housing for the Department should be exempt from general excise taxes.

This measure was included in the Administration’s legislative package but has not passed.

Proposal HHL-04(23) – Relating to Historic Preservation Reviews

This proposal allows DHHL to assume review of the effect of any proposed project on historic properties or burial sites for lands under its jurisdiction.

Instead of requiring DHHL to consult with the Department of Land and Natural Resources regarding the effect of a project upon historic properties or burial sites, this proposal would streamline the process by allowing DHHL to assume this review.

This measure was included in the Administration’s legislative package but has not passed.

Proposal HHL-05(23) – Relating to Interim Administrative Rules of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

This proposal creates a new section of the HRS that allows DHHL, after consultation with beneficiaries and organizations representing beneficiaries, to issue interim rules which shall be exempt from the public notice, public hearing, and gubernatorial approval requirements of Chapter 91 as long as the interim rules shall be effective for not more than eighteen months.

The Department is currently authorized to adopt rules in accordance with Chapter 91, HRS, which can be a lengthy and time-consuming process when you factor in that the Department conducts consultation with beneficiaries and organizations representing beneficiaries prior to initiating the rule making process.  This amendment will enable the Department to move quickly in issuing interim rules after consultation with beneficiaries and organizations representing beneficiaries on important programs and services, while preserving public access by ensuring that the interim rules will be made available on the website of the Office of Lieutenant Governor.  The eighteen-month limitation on the life of the interim rules will further ensure that the Department has adequate time to adopt permanent rules through formal rulemaking procedures.

This measure was included in the Administration’s legislative package but has not passed.

Proposal HHL-06(23) – Relating to Compliance and Enforcement on Hawaiian Home Lands

This proposal establishes a compliance and enforcement program within the Department to investigate complaints, conduct investigations, and cooperate with enforcement authorities to ensure compliance with the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, as amended and rules adopted thereunder as well as all other state laws and rules, and county ordinances on Hawaiian Home Lands.

Illegal activity occurring on Hawaiian Home Lands threatens the health and safety of the community, this proposal is modeled after HRS Chapter 199 (Conservation and Resources Enforcement Program) as a means to respond to the concerns raised by beneficiaries about criminal activity impacting the community.

This measure has not been part of the Administration’s legislative package.

Proposal HHL-07(23) – Relating to Adoption

This proposal allows an adopted individual to benefit both by relationship through a natural parent and through an adoptive parent in a disposition or other designation provided for in accordance with the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, as amended or administrative rules while also allowing the adopted individual and individual’s natural family to continue to have the same familial relationship.

The effect of adoption impacts the ability of an adopted individual to succeed a homestead lease or the applicant’s application rights on the DHHL Applicant Waiting List, so this proposal is aimed at resolving this by allowing the adopted individual to benefit from both adoptive and natural relationships.

This measure was included in the Administration’s legislative package but has not passed.

Proposal HHL-08(23) – Relating to Affordable Housing on Hawaiian Home Lands

This proposal repeals the July 1, 2024, sunset of Act 141, Session Laws of Hawaii 2009, and the July 1, 2024, sunset of Act 98, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012, to make the affordable housing credit program permanent.

Proposal HHL-09(23) – Relating to School Impact Fees

This proposal repeals the July 1, 2024, sunset of Act 197, Session Laws of Hawaii 2021, to make permanent the exclusion of housing developed by DHHL from school impact fees.

Proposal HHL-10(23) –  Relating to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

This proposal allows for the expenditure of funds appropriated in Act 279, Session Laws of Hawaii 2022 until June 30, 2025.

For a full draft of the bills and justification, visit dhhl.hawaii.gov/government-relations.

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About the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands:

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands carries out Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole’s vision of rehabilitating native Hawaiians by returning them to the land. Established by U.S. Congress in 1921, with the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, the Hawaiian homesteading program run by DHHL includes management of over 200,000 acres of land statewide with the specific purpose of developing and delivering homesteading.

Media Contact:

Cedric Duarte

Information and Community Relations Officer
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
(808) 620-9591

[email protected]