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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

GOP eliminating 'pro-Akaka' point

By Herbert A. Sample
Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona

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The committee drafting a new platform for the state Republican Party has dropped language that some interpreted as support for federal legislation to establish a governing entity for Native Hawaiians.

The move came a week after Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor this year, announced he would continue to back the Akaka bill pending in Congress even though he has reservations about it.

Aiona's position contrasts with that of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who has supported previous versions of the legislation but recently urged the U.S. Senate to oppose the current version.

Lingle contends it immediately vests a Native Hawaiian governing entity with ill-defined authority instead of allowing those powers to be negotiated between the entity and federal and state governments.

The platform committee, meeting Saturday, adopted a brief document that lists five GOP principles: liberty, limited government, individual responsibility, fiscal accountability and equality of opportunity.

Its chairman, Ryan Markham, said the committee may flesh out those terms in later meetings.

The more detailed 2008 platform said Hawai'i Republicans advocate "encouraging Hawaiians to support initiatives leading to implementation of Hawaiian self-determination by popular vote of the Hawaiian people."

Some Republicans and others interpreted that language as supportive of the Akaka bill, committee member Eric Ryan said in a statement.

Because that provision has now been dropped, the state GOP is "no longer officially 'pro-Akaka bill,' "' he added.

However, the platform still needs to be formally approved at the state GOP convention in mid-May.