Settlement over ceded lands looks doubtful
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Tomorrow is the 37th day of the 60-day session.
Three state Senate committees voted Monday to kill a proposed $200 million settlement between the state and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs over ceded crown lands.
The proposed deal negotiated by the Lingle administration would have given OHA three parcels of land worth $187 million, $13 million in cash, and a minimum of $15.1 million annually in exchange for OHA's agreement to waive further claims to income from the land.
Senators said there were questions about whether the $200 million figure was appropriate and whether Native Hawaiians have had enough time to review the possible settlement.
OHA Administrator Clyde Namu'o said agency officials want to talk with House and Senate leaders about still moving a settlement through this session. A version of the settlement is alive in the House.
But several lawmakers are now doubtful about the chances for a settlement this session.
The moratorium would help prevent further overharvesting of the prized delicacy, although some worry it could create a black market for the limpets.
Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a permanent ban on 'opihi sales in 2006.
Native Hawaiian farmers worry that experimenting with modified taro could threaten a plant many Hawaiians consider sacred. Researchers fear a moratorium would undermine attempts to protect taro from insects and diseases.
Dozens of Native Hawaiians, researchers and others came to the state Capitol for the hearing. About 130 people offered testimony on the bill.
The committee deferred action on the bill but lawmakers are talking about a potential resolution this session.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"We have really good counsel. And we were told we're in compliance with everything."
— Laura Lott, a Hawai'i Medical Service Association spokeswoman, on HMSA's refusal to turn over its annual government affairs budget to the state's insurance commissioner.