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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 7:03 a.m., Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Senate may vote on Native Hawaiian bills Thursday

By Dennis Camire
Advertiser Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The Senate Indian Affairs Committee may vote Thursday on bills extending self-government and self-determination to Native Hawaiians and reauthorize federal housing programs for them.

The Native Hawaiian bill, sponsored by Sen. Dan Akaka, D-Hawai'i, would create a process for a Native Hawaiian governing entity to be formed and gain federal recognition. The new government would be able to negotiate with the United States and Hawai'i over the disposition of Native Hawaiian land, assets and other resources.

The committee held a hearing on the bill last week.

The housing bill, which the House approved 272-150 over Republican opposition in March, would reauthorize funding for Native Hawaiian housing programs for five years. It would ensure that the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands continues to receive $8 million to $9 million annually for roads, water lines, sewer systems and other infrastructure needed for housing projects developed for those who are 50 percent Hawaiian blood or more.

The Native Hawaiian housing program's authorization expired in 2005 but funding has been kept alive on a year-to-year basis.

Contact Dennis Camire at dcamire@gns.gannett.com.