”’Hawaii Reporter”’ has learned that the cloture vote on the Akaka Bill in the U.S. Senate — scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005 — will be postponed for at least a few weeks.
Sources in the Senate Judiciary say the GOP leadership has agreed to delay the vote on the bill, which will grant native Hawaiians federal recognition as Native Americans and Native Alaskans have, but with even more powers to Native Hawaiians.
The devastation brought on the people and property in the Southern states last week because of Hurricane Katrina, along with the vacancy of two positions on the U.S. Supreme Court, including one created this weekend with the death of Chief Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist, are being blamed for the delay.
Advocates of the Akaka Bill, named for Democrat Sen. Daniel Akaka, say Hawaiians deserve federal recognition and protection of their existing entitlement programs. Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, and Hawaii’s four Congressmembers, all Democrats, are supporting the measure. Office of Hawaiian Affairs representatives lobbying for the bill already departed for Washington D.C. this Friday.
Opponents say the Akaka Bill will divide the state racially, will allow native Hawaiians to create a separate government with a different tax system, justice system and constitution, and could facilitate legalized gambling in Hawaii. The bill is opposed by many native Hawaiians as well as non-Hawaiians living in Hawaii.
A recent poll by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii of all households in Hawaii shows two of three people in the state oppose the Akaka Bill. Two Office of Hawaiian Affairs polls, including one of 600 people and another of 400, showed more support than opposition.
”’Reach Malia Zimmerman, editor of Hawaii Reporter, via email at”’ mailto:Malia@hawaiireporter.com