The Corner

Lingle vs. Congress

Earlier this week, I noted here that Congress may be set to sneak in a long-floating race-based Hawaii reorganization bill. This morning, as a House committee has the bill on its schedule, the Honolulu Advertiser reports that the Hawaii governor is making noise about the current bill, too. Another temporary alliance?

The Lingle administration, which has consistently backed federal recognition for Native Hawaiians, opposes changes to the bill pending before Congress because of “potentially enormous” implications to the relationship between Hawaiians and the state.

State Attorney General Mark Bennett, on behalf of Gov. Linda Lingle, sent a letter yesterday to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee expressing strong opposition to changes to the bill the committee is scheduled to review today.

Bennett said the changes would give Native Hawaiians the inherent powers and privileges of self-determination, and that a new governing authority would be recognized as an Indian tribe. The powers of the new government could be modified through negotiations between Hawaiians, and the federal and state governments.

The existing bill, by comparison, would grant governing authority to Hawaiians only after negotiations with the federal and state governments.

“The implications of forever changing the relationship between Native Hawaiians and the state of Hawai’i, and simply deciding Native Hawaiians are an Indian tribe (for at least some purposes), are potentially enormous,” Bennett wrote.

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