Many gathered to raise attention to bills that affect the Hawaiian community, namely SB 1171 and HB 224. SB 1171, a bill that allows for phased archaeological surveys, ultimately passed with a vote of 16 to 9 out of the State Senate and will likely be signed by Governor Abercrombie.
HB 224, although deferred for this session, remains alive and moving forward. The measure proposed developing appropriate standards testing for students who are educated in the Hawaiian language.
Senator Brickwood Galuteria, Chair of the Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, said “What we’re trying to do with [HB]224 is to bring some type of equity to assessment for the Native Hawaiian youth. So that’s where [HB]224 begins, but that’s not where it ends.”
Many of the important pieces of the bill were advanced through other legislative measures. This includes $1 million dollars of funding to begin work on the assessments that would take effect no sooner than 2018.
“The future of it is that it’s still alive. We’ve deferred it for at least a year. But the elements of [HB]224 are still moving. And that’s most important because over here, it’s about the end game,” said Galuteria.
The fates of SB 1171 and HB 224 demonstrates the fast-paced environment of State government. Nevertheless, Hawaiians must remain steadfast in our resolve to be part of the discussion.
“I felt it important to come from Maui and let our senators know that I know the process, I understand the process and how detrimental how this can be for the process too. I think we live in a time of comfort. It’s a lot of the generation before us, the Uncle Walter Ritte’s who fought for a lot of the things we benefit from today. And I think our generation needs to ours and the ones that we teach need to learn that’s it’s an continuous fight as we see. Because there’s always going to be something, a new bill, a new law, there’s always going to be something to fight for because our existence as Hawaiians relies on that. I do know who I am and I do know who I come from. And, you know, so, we have a kuleana to, it’s not always easy, but if we don’t do it, who’s going to do it?” said Jaye Nāpua Makua, a commissioner on the State Land Use Commission.
Our kuleana does not end at the closing of this legislative session nor is it limited to a single day. The simplest way to be part of the process is to speak with legislators and be informed about ongoing issues.
“Engagement is going to be so important going forward that sometimes you’re going to hear stuff that you don’t want to hear. But at least you’ll know what’s going on. There’s only one way to find out and that’s to come and visit. And then if you choose to be a part of the solution” said Galuteria.