2007-11-21 Steve Kagen Fact Check
Steve Kagen, U.S. Congressional Representative from Wisconsin, wrote the following letter to one of his constituents:
Mr. Kagen's letter, with corrections
Dear Ms. -----,
Thank you for allowing me to listen to your concerns about the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (H.R. 505). I appreciate you taking time to share your views with me.
There was an unfortunate amount of misinformation about this measure, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight. This legislation does not authorize changes in current civil or criminal jurisdiction, or any laws relating to land use or taxation.
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Wrong. The bill Sec. 8(b)(1) expressly allows the three governments: Federal, State of HI and the brand new Native Hawaiian governing entity (“NHGE”), to negotiate an agreement addressing such matters as “(C) the exercise of civil and criminal jurisdiction; (D) the delegation of governmental powers and authorities to the NHGE by the U.S. and the State of HI.
Any transfer to the NHGE of governmental authority or power currently exercised by the State requires implementing legislation by the State. Likewise, transfer of Federal power and authority would require Federal legislation for implementation. Given the Hawaii legislature’s track record of lavish spending on Hawaiian entitlements, such implementation should be readily available. Ditto, Congress.
It is highly probable that the domain of the NHGE would include at least the 200,000 acres of Hawaiian home lands, the Island of Kahoolawe and Waimea Valley on Oahu (title to which is already held by OHA.) It is also highly likely that the courts of the NHGE would have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over that territory. Claims arising out of a fender bender in Waimanalo would probably be adjudicated by a NHGE court. Traffic tickets on streets in Waimea Valley or in Hawaiian Homelands would be issued by NHGE Police Department officers. Lands within the NHGE’s domain would be taken off the real property tax rolls of the counties. Businesses operating within the NHGE’s territory would be free of state or county taxes and health and safety regulations. Elaine Willman’s book Going to Pieces: The Dismantling of the United States of America documents the myriad other injustices that arise in the vicinity of sovereign governing entities not subject to all the same rules as other citizens.
Thus, contrary to the good Doctor Kagen’s assurance, the bill establishes the process for radical changes in the civil and criminal jurisdiction, land use and taxation in Hawaii. The negotiations called for by the bill are unlimited in scope or duration. They will certainly continue slice by slice, year by year, until little is left of the State of Hawaii.
Furthermore, H.R. 505 expressly prohibits gambling or the establishment of casinos by Native Hawaiians.
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Wrong. Sec. 9 says the NHGE and Native Hawaiians may not conduct gaming activities as “inherent authority” or under Federal law including IGRA. But Senator Inouye has made it clear that Indian Law is inapplicable to the NHGE. Numerous casinos operate in the U.S. without “inherent authority” or IGRA. If the negotiators agree next year or the year after or at some future year, and the Hawaii legislature approves, casinos will come to the NHGE.
If Mr. Kagen had supported an amendment to H.R. 505 stating, "The NHGE may never operate or establish any casinos or gambling", that would have expressly prohibited gambling and casinos. The current bill does no such thing.
Renowned Constitutional scholar Viet D. Dinh, who served as Assistant Attorney General of the United States from 2001 to 2003, has reviewed the bill and concluded that it is constitutional.
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Mr. Dinh is not speaking as an impartial scholar. He is a well paid advocate representing his clients zealously as expected of advocates. He knows that the Indian analogy argument he makes was also made before the Supreme Court in Rice v. Cayetano and rejected.
H.R. 505 would not allow the Native Hawaiians to secede from the union.
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Wrong again. Senator Akaka himself, and the chief State sponsor of the bill, OHA, both assure the extremist independence factions that the Akaka bill is just the first step on the road to building a Native Hawaiian nation.
Implementing this legislation would come at virtually no cost to the federal government.
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Comment: "Virtually no cost" as per the Congressional Budget Office would be around one million dollars each year for the first two years, and then half a million dollars a year.
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The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act would simply establish a means for Native Hawaiians to represent themselves in negotiating agreements with the federal government and the State of Hawaii. It would provide the same rights of self determination for Native Hawaiians as has long been granted to American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
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Wrong yet again. No American Indian has any right to “recognition” as a tribe based merely on having an Indian ancestor, as the Akaka bill proposes for Native Hawaiians. There must at least a quasi sovereign governing entity that has existed continuously in a distinctly Indian community since 1900.
The 400,000 Native Hawaiians living throughout all 50 states and dispersed throughout all census districts in the State of Hawaii, the most intermingled, intermarried assimilated state, a model for the world, cannot meet the mandatory criteria for recognition as a tribe. Even during the 73 years of its existence, the Kingdom of Hawaii was a multi-racial society in which non-natives played active and equal roles. The first written Constitution of the Kingdom in 1840 proclaimed all men of all nations are of one blood, to dwell on the Earth in unity. The Kingdom encouraged immigration and gave naturalized subjects the same rights as natives. The Native Hawaiians-only government proposed by the Akaka bill has never existed since Kamehameha the Great unified the Hawaiian Islands and all its people, natives and non-natives alike, in 1810.
As you may be aware, H.R. 505 passed the House of Representatives, with my support, by a vote of 261-153 on October 24, 2007. It has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
Thank you again for sharing your concerns with me. By working together, we will build a better future for everyone.
- Steve Kagen, MD
- Member of Congress