Honolulu, Hawaii



RE:    S.B. No. 890

       S.D. 1




Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Thirty-First State Legislature

Regular Session of 2021

State of Hawaii




     Your Committee on Hawaiian Affairs, to which was referred S.B. No. 890 entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


     The purpose and intent of this measure is to amend the election process for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees so that:


     (1)  Of the four at-large seat candidates without an island residency requirement, two must reside in an urban district and two must reside in the rural district; and


     (2)  One urban district candidate and one rural district candidate shall be elected in any election cycle.


     Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from one individual.  Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Department of the Attorney General.


     Your Committee finds that the population disparity between urban and rural residents generally results in the election of Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees candidates who prioritize urban concerns over the concerns of rural residents.  Your Committee further finds that because all Board of Trustees candidates participate in statewide elections, urban voters distort elections even for island-specific seats.  Therefore, your Committee finds that removing the statewide element of Board of Trustees elections will ensure more accurate representation of and accountability to Office of Hawaiian Affairs constituents.


     Your Committee has heard the concerns of the Department of the Attorney General that this measure eliminates the guarantee that the islands of Molokai and Kauai have a member, potentially violating article XII, section 5, of the Hawaii State Constitution which requires that Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Hawaii each have a seat on the Board of Trustees.  The Department of the Attorney General also raised issues that this measure does not address how the nine-member Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs will transition to the new board after the measure goes into effect on January 1, 2024.


     Your Committee has amended this measure by:


     (1)  Amending the language to ensure that the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Hawaii each have at least one member;


     (2)  Clarifying when the terms of all four of the urban and rural district members will commence; and


     (3)  Making technical, nonsubstantive amendments for the purposes of clarity and consistency.


     As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Hawaiian Affairs that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 890, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 890, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Judiciary.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs,