By B.J. Reyes
With hopes dimming for passage of the Akaka Bill before the end of the year, a massive omnibus appropriations bill for 2011 pushed out by the Senate today offers the potential for revisiting the issue in the future.
The 1,924-page bill is probably more noteworthy for the inclusion of $8 billion in earmarks requested by lawmakers from both parties as the “lame duck” session churns to a close.
But on pages 809-810 of the draft proposal, there is language calling for a study of some kind for establishing a “mechanism” to recognize a Native Hawaiian governing entity.
NATIVE HAWAIIAN RECOGNITION STUDY AUTHORIZATION
SEC. 125. The Secretary of the Interior shall, with funds appropriated for fiscal year 2011, and in coordination with the State of Hawaii and those offices designated under the Hawaii State Constitution as representative of the Native Hawaiian community, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and the Attorney General of the United States, examine and make recommendations to Congress no later than September 30, 2011, on developing a mechanism for the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian governing entity and recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian governing entity as an Indian tribe within the meaning of Articles I and II of the Constitution.
A spokesman for Akaka says the senator still is exploring avenues to get the bill passed, adding that the provision in the spending bill basically calls for a report on the most effective way to move forward should the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act be enacted in the future.