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Tough decisions in the Island State.

1893.

American settlers, aided by the United States Marine Corps, overthrow the Hawaiian Kingdom.

1993.

The Hawaii Legislature contemplates the ramifications of that act from a century past and moves to offset some of the perceived wrongs.

The Legislature appropriated $137 million to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as compensation for the state's "past wrongful uses and unauthorized takings of Hawaiian lands since Aug. 21, 1959, the date of statehood," explained Representative Sam Lee.

Several bills and resolutions were passed this session that related to Hawaiian sovereignty. A commission was established to plan a sovereignty referendum for Hawaiian self-government during the 1994 general election. And the Legislature requested the return of the island of Kahoolawe, a former Navy bombing range, to a future Hawaiian nation.

"The federal government has deemed Hawaiians a racial minority and denied its responsibilities to a people whose nation was dissolved by force," Lee said. "The state, on the other hand, has acknowledged its responsibility and has stepped into the void to undertake those measures leading to a nation of indigenous people, such as the Native American Indian nations on the mainland."

Summing up the 1993 session, Lee said it was marked by "an extraordinary array of legislation that involved some tough decisions."

Lee said several pieces of legislation enacted could serve as models for the nation--as Hawaiian laws did in the areas of land reform and health care.

"The winds of change in Hawaii are indeed trade winds, and they come much earlier and gentler than those in the East and West," he said.

A major issue facing legislators was disaster relief. "Hurricane Iniki was as destructive as Andrew in Florida, and the fallout was identical," Lee said. "Homeowner's insurance became scarce and premiums skyrocketed."

A package of relief measures for Iniki victims will spread the burden of recovery statewide. Legislation includes telephone bill surcharges for utility repairs, $8.5 million to offset property tax losses, $3 million for Kauai tourism promotion, and money for public works, housing and economic recovery.

Lawmakers created an insurance pool financed with assessments from the insurers and backed by the creation of a state insurance reserve trust fund.

"It combines a pool with reinsurance, provides for community rating and shared risks," Lee explained. "All current insurers, except for one, have agreed to participate, and foreign insurers have expressed interest in joining."

Another dilemma facing the Hawaii Legislature was the plight of the struggling local airlines.

"Interisland civil aviation is suffering the same malaise affecting the national airline industry," Lee said. "Too many airplanes chasing too few passengers at too low fares."

The Legislature instituted airline re-regulation, pending federal authorization, and approved a $12.6 million loan guarantee for beleaguered Hawaiian Airlines.

Other measures included:

* An education package intended to keep school and community-based reforms on track. Lump-sum budgeting was used to give individual schools control of up to 56 percent of their budgets. Other features of the legislation included bonuses for principals, and improvements in educational assessment and accountability. The Legislature provided $22 million more for education than the governor requested.

* Establishment of boot camps featuring hard work, training and education for nonviolent offenders to help alleviate prison overcrowding. State Legislatures July 1993
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Conference of State Legislatures
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Hawaii. Legisture's orders pertaining to the issue of self-government for the state
Publication:State Legislatures
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Words:534
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