OHA introduces a bill in the 2009 Legislature to force the State to give OHA some combination of land and money to settle so-called back rent due for State use of ceded lands.


In 2009 OHA once again demanded a settlement of what OHA claims is "back rent" owed to OHA for the State's use of ceded lands. OHA is reintroducing legislation whereby the State would give OHA a combination of land and money to settle the "back rent"; although in this year's version of the proposal OHA says it will agree to take only land during 2009 and put off taking cash until a future year when the state budget problems have improved. Here are news reports and commentaries about the 2009 version of OHA's "back rent" demands.

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http://www.khnl.com/Global/story.asp?S=9683488
KHNL TV
Associated Press - January 15, 2009 9:54 PM ET

OHA proposes land transfer to settle 30-year claim

HONOLULU (AP) - The Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Friday proposed land swaps to settle a 30-year dispute between Native Hawaiians and the state over income from former Hawaiian kingdom lands.

Its legislation would transfer two state-owned properties to OHA this year that were valued at about $127 million - almost 19 acres in Kakaako in Honolulu and 80 acres along Banyan Drive resort area in Hilo on the Big Island.

Next year, the measure would transfer another, yet-to-be-determined state parcel worth almost $73 million.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs officials said at a news conference that the measure would reasonably settle the lengthy dispute as the state grapples with a budget deficit.

Enactment of the measure "will bring this 30-year chapter to a close (and) allow the Hawaiian community to embrace the opportunities of the future," said OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona.

Last year, a similar settlement bill was stymied in the Legislature over objections from the Native Hawaiian community, where a number of activists differ on strategy and tactics when it comes to relations with the state.

That measure would have given OHA $13 million in cash and transferred 200 acres of land worth $187 million, including the Banyan Drive parcel.

But state Hawaiian officials said they held more than 45 meetings statewide to gather input from Native Hawaiians. "We heard the community loud and clear," Apoliona said.

Clyde Namuo, OHA's administrator, said the state should look favorably on the new proposal because it asks for no cash at a time when the state is facing substantial budget woes.

The state also would resolve a dispute that at one time hindered the state's bond rating, which caused higher borrowing costs, he added.

The OHA officials acknowledged that the legislation will not affect future Native Hawaiian claims, an issue that Attorney General Mark Bennett has pinpointed in the past, Namuo said.

Neither the governor's office nor Bennett commented on the propose bill.

Still, Namuo said conveying the properties to the Hawaiian agency will benefit both the state and the Native Hawaiian community as it attempts to become self-sufficient.

"When we look at the Kakaako property, this is real estate that has been left idle for well over 20 years," he said. "The conveyance of that property to OHA certainly provides the state with a much better opportunity to see that property developed."

The agency is undertaking a review of the two properties to analyze their value, liabilities and potential uses. For example, the Hilo parcel may be in a tsunami inundation zone, Namuo added.

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http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/articles/2009/01/16/local_news/local02.txt
Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Friday January 16, 2009

OHA wants Waiakea Peninsula
Bill would settle 30 years of Hawaiian claims

by Peter Sur
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs would become the new owner of Hilo's Waiakea Peninsula under a bill the agency proposes to submit to the Legislature.

Along with a 19-acre Kakaako parcel, OHA would become the new owner of the roughly 80-acre peninsula valued at $127.2 million on July 1.

On top of that, in 2010 OHA would get $72.8 million in a yet-to-be-identified parcel for a total settlement of $200 million.

OHA proposes the bill to settle past claims dating from Nov. 7, 1978, to July 1, 2008.

The Waiakea Peninsula includes the heart of East Hawaii's tiny hotel industry, including the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, the Country Club Condo Hotel, Reed's Bay Resort Hotel, Uncle Billy's Hilo Bay Hotel, and the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort and its nine-hole golf course. By itself, the peninsula is worth about $34.4 million.

The Waiakea tracts are the same ones identified in a settlement agreement between the Lingle administration and OHA in 2007. That settlement, also for $200 million, was voted down by the Legislature in 2008. Many were critical of a settlement that resolved all past and future claims.

Unlike the previous agreement, the newest iteration includes no cash component, which OHA Land Management Director Jonathan Likeke Scheuer said may improve the bill's chances. "I'm more hopeful," he said.

The past lawsuits have arisen from a 1980 law that dedicates 20 percent of all funds derived from public lands for OHA.

OHA officials said at a news conference in Honolulu that the measure would reasonably settle the lengthy dispute as the state grapples with a budget deficit. Enactment of the measure "will bring this 30-year chapter to a close (and) allow the Hawaiian community to embrace the opportunities of the future," said OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona.

State Hawaiian officials said they held more than 45 meetings statewide to gather input from Native Hawaiians. "We heard the community loud and clear," Apoliona said.

Clyde Namuo, OHA's administrator, said the state should look favorably on the new proposal because it asks for no cash at a time when the state is facing substantial budget woes.

The state would also be resolving a dispute that at one time hindered the state's bond rating, which caused higher borrowing costs, he added.

The OHA officials acknowledged that the legislation won't affect future Native Hawaiian claims, an issue that Attorney General Mark Bennett has pinpointed in the past, Namuo said.

Neither the governor's office nor Bennett commented on the proposed bill.

Still, Namuo said conveying the properties to the Hawaiian agency will benefit both the state and the Native Hawaiian community as it attempts to become self-sufficient. "When we look at the Kakaako property, this is real estate that has been left idle for well over 20 years," he said. "The conveyance of that property to OHA certainly provides the state with a much better opportunity to see that property developed."

The agency is undertaking a review of the two properties to analyze their value, liabilities and potential uses. For example, the Hilo parcel may be in a tsunami inundation zone, Namuo added.

Scheuer emphasized that current leaseholders will not see any change to their leases in the short term. However, in the long term, Scheuer said that the OHA trustees believe the peninsula has "not gotten sufficient attention from the state."

"We would go through a master planning process" to spell out the long-term direction of the parcel, which he said could be rolled out in a "few days." Lawmakers will discuss and possibly vote on the bill in the 60-day session beginning next week Wednesday. "Ultimately, it is up to the Legislature," Scheuer said.

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http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090116/NEWS23/901160342/1001
Honolulu Advertiser, Friday January 16, 2009

New OHA plan keeps open any future claims
$200M land transfer would settle past-due payments from trust

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will try to push through the Legislature a bill to resolve past due claims on income generated by the Public Land Trust, without the support of the Lingle administration. Advertisement

OHA and the state have long agreed that the agency is owed a portion of the proceeds generated by lands once owned by the Hawaiian monarchy and that are now part of the state's inventory. In fact, the state now pays OHA $15.1 million annually.

What's been in dispute is how much OHA should receive, and should have received in the 30 years up until July 1, 2008.

The plan unveiled yesterday by OHA Board Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona would resolve the past-due payments, but would leave open how much it should get in the future.

The Lingle administration and OHA leaders last year walked hand-in-hand into the Legislature with a similar proposal, but the deal fell apart in the Legislature amid criticism by a segment of the Native Hawaiian community as well as lawmakers.

This year's bill calls for what essentially is a settlement through the transfer of state lands valued at $200 million to OHA. This year, OHA would receive title to two parcels — lands in what primarily have been industrial property in Kaka'ako Makai and the resort area along Banyan Drive in Hilo, Hawai'i. OHA estimates those two par- cels are worth $127.2 million.

Yet-to-be-determined properties valued at $72.8 million would be transferred by the state to OHA next year. The state would also continue to pay OHA $15.1 million annually in the immediate future.

OHA approved plan, 6-0

The Public Land Trust consists of those 1.2 million acres of ceded lands transferred to the state in the Admissions Act, excluding those lands under the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

The major difference between the proposal and the Lingle-OHA plan of last year is that the new plan no longer calls for eliminating all future claims to ceded land revenues. While the Lingle administration, and primarily Attorney General Mark Bennett, pushed hard to include that provision, it was widely criticized by Native Hawaiian groups that testified against the settlement.

"We heard the community loud and clear," Apoliona said, noting that more than 45 community meetings were held statewide.

Neither Bennett nor Lingle could be reached for comment yesterday.

The OHA board approved the plan, 6-0, with three members absent: Rowena Akana, Don Cataluna and Walter Heen.

Legislative approval of the bill "is essential to put to rest the 30-year-old past-due 'disputed' revenue claims on income and proceeds from the Public Land Trust," Apoliona said. Asked what incentive the Lingle administration would have toward supporting the new proposal in light of the removal of the future-claims proviso, OHA Administrator Clyde Namu'o said it was in the state's best interest to settle the dispute.

The dispute has contributed to a lower bond rating for the state over the years, Namu'o said. And in the case of the Kaka'ako lands, it would likely speed up development of lands that have remained largely undeveloped, he said.

Namu'o said OHA leaders met with key lawmakers including House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Colleen Hana- busa. The next step would be to present the plan to the Hawaiian community.

Say, through a spokeswoman, said Democratic leaders in the House will evaluate the proposal in light of the changes. "We're open to the new proposal," Say said.

'A 1-way conversation'

Sen. Clayton Hee, D-23rd (Kane'ohe, Kahuku), said he has yet to see the plan but expects to give it a hearing. Hee, however, expressed skepticism upon hearing the administration is not involved. "It sounds like a one-way conversation," Hee said.

State Rep. Mele Carroll, D-13th (E. Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i), the chairwoman of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee, said she was reviewing the details of the OHA proposal. "For me, I want transparency. I want community input — if there's a way, and time permits, to get hearings on the other Islands," Carroll said.

Last year's plan called for the Kaka'ako Makai and Hilo parcels, as well as a third parcel involving property in Kalaeloa, to be transferred to the state along with $13 million cash. OHA and the Lingle administration estimated then that the package was worth $200 million. Namu'o said yesterday the Department of Land and Natural Resources has been reluctant to include the property and that it was Bennett who insisted it be part of the package.

Namu'o said OHA leaders recognized the state's financial predicament this year and therefore did not include any cash in the proposal.

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http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/articles/2009/01/30/opinion/your_views/letters01.txt
Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Friday January 30, 2009, LETTER

Peninsula a bad deal

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs would become the new owner of Hilo's Waiakea Peninsula under a bill the agency proposes to submit to the Legislature.

I would like the OHA, the Legislature, the Hawaiian people, and all of those who care about them to think twice about this, and to protest this transfer for the following reasons:

1. Waiakea Peninsula is entirely below the expected ocean levels for 2100 and will become worthless once it starts to flood, which will happen much sooner.

2. The condo-hotels on the peninsula's Banyan Drive are all in poor repair and will require extensive, very expensive rehabilitation (new roofs, new plumbing, new stairways). The OHA will need to spend money on this that would otherwise be available to fund the many other programs benefitting the Hawaiian people.

3. The income potential of the Waiakea Peninsula is based on tourism. However, if our vog becomes worse, Hilo may have less tourism. Beyond the vog issue, Hawaiian tourism is very sensitive to the world's economic health. The bottom line is that the income potential of Waiakea Peninsula is very insecure, and so it is a bad investment for OHA.

Therefore, if the state does not own appropriate land that they can offer OHA, instead of this doomed parcel, perhaps a private landowner's parcel can be acquired by the state and then transferred to OHA. I strongly urge OHA to consider which privately owned parcels would best suit their needs, and then see if the owner can reach a deal with the state that satisfies and serves everyone.

C.F. Oguss
Hilo

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http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090210/NEWS25/902100328/1318
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, February 10, 2009

House ceded-lands bill subject of meetings

A legislative bill seeking to settle the dispute between the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the state over ceded lands revenues is the subject of a series of meetings statewide this week by the state House Hawaiian Affairs Committee.

House Bill 901 would give OHA a portion of the income and proceeds from land in the public land trust.

All meetings run from 6:05 to 9 p.m. this week except Saturday's meeting on O'ahu, which will run from 10:05 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The meetings are scheduled for:

• Tonight, Kealakehe Elementary School in Kailua, Kona.

• Tomorrow, Keaukaha Elementary School in Hilo.

• Thursday, King Kaumuali'i Elementary School in Lihu'e.

• Saturday, State Capitol Room 329.

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http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/articles/2009/02/11/local/local01.txt
West Hawaii Today, February 11, 2009

State looks to repay OHA
2 large parcels will go toward satisfying $200M debt

by Erin Miller
West Hawaii Today

Just three people testified at a special informational hearing on a proposed bill before the state Legislature that would give two pieces of land to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in partial payment for money the state owes the agency.

The House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs convened the special informational briefing and hearing at Kealakehe Elementary School Tuesday night as one of a series of such meetings across the state. Two West Hawaii residents said they supported the bill, and one resident said he had reservations about supporting it, but did not say he opposed it.

"It's time to lay at rest some of the real political issues and develop the real foundation of our community," Kaliohale Community Association representative Bo Kahui told the state representatives and OHA officials at the hearing. "We've got to get compensated for what the state has done." Kahui supported the bill. He said he also supported a different version, presented last year, just after OHA officials and the state Attorney General reached a tentative agreement for OHA to receive $200 million in state property to repay some of the unpaid portion of the revenue the state, by statute, is to pay OHA.

State legislators in 1980 approved a bill that directed 20 percent of the revenue the state earned on certain state lands to OHA; the office has previously disputed the revenues the state has provided and the OHA took the state to court four times over the issue, attorney William Meheula said. The $200 million amount came as a result of years of negotiation with the state.

Meheula, OHA Director of Land Management Jonathan Likeke Scheuer and OHA Administrator Clyde Namuo presented background on the previous lawsuits, last year's bill and possible uses for the two properties, one in Kakaako Makai on Oahu, the second along Banyan Drive in Hilo. Scheuer said last year's bill, which was similar to the one presented Tuesday, was put together just days before it was submitted, prompting outcry from members of the Native Hawaiian community who felt they were not given time to provide input on the process or the proposal.

OHA then held 60 public meetings last year to gather comments. "That input that was topical to the bill changed the bill," Scheuer said.

Included in the changes was removal of language waiving future claims, removal of a property that had caused concerns -- and that the state decided to develop instead -- and inclusion of an option for OHA to reject state properties offered.

People also complained last year that they did not have a chance to provide any input in which parcels of land would be used to pay the $200 million the state agreed to pay; the two properties included in the bill are worth about $128 million, and will generate $1.8 million in lease revenue annually, Scheuer said. The third property has yet to be selected.

The Kakaako property may be developed into commercial space, including a market where local growers could sell their produce. The space would not be used for high-end retail, Scheuer said.

The Hilo property, on which Hawaiian Naniloa Hotel, Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Uncle Billy's Hilo Bay Hotel and a nine-hole municipal golf course are currently located, would be remodeled as well. The hotels, which Scheuer said now block beach access, would be moved back onto the golf course area, and senior housing may be built. The shoreline would be opened for better fishing and cultural access, he said.

"This is not about building a real estate empire for OHA," administrator Namuo said. "This is about resources for Native Hawaiians. Given the vast needs, every little bit helps."

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http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090225/NEWS01/902250407/1001
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hawaii ceded-lands bills differ on which properties OHA would get
Decision probably months away

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Lawyers this morning were to argue at the U.S. Supreme Court whether the state has the right to sell ceded lands before Native Hawaiian claims to those lands have been resolved.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Hawai'i are debating which portions of those lands the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the state agency tasked with promoting Hawaiian interests, should get.

Two proposals — Senate Bill 995 and House Bill 901 — take different approaches to resolving the question of which parcels OHA should own.

The Senate bill would make OHA the owner of parcels consisting nearly entirely of lands Native Hawaiians deem culturally significant, such as the Mauna Kea Scientific Reserve on the Big Island. The House bill is more vague, leaving some decisions on which land OHA would own to a later date.

OHA and the state have agreed that OHA is owed a portion of the proceeds generated by ceded lands. What's been in dispute is which lands OHA should receive as compensation.

At the beginning of this year's legislative session, OHA wanted lawmakers to transfer to the agency land totaling $200 million in value — industrial property in Kaka'ako makai, the resort area along Banyan Drive in Hilo and other parcels to be determined later. OHA also wanted to continue to receive $15.1 million annually in rent from the remaining ceded land, as it has in recent years.

The OHA proposal was similar to the settlement of land claims that the agency and the Lingle administration agreed to last year. The settlement would have given OHA title to the Kaka'ako and Banyan Drive properties, but the plan died late in last year's legislative session. This year, the OHA plan does not have the support of the Lingle administration.

Lawmakers are offering alternatives to last year's plan.

SB 995 was amended by the Senate Committee on Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs to delete the Kaka'ako and Banyan Drive properties from the settlement, but instead puts together a group of culturally significant parcels.

The plan, devised by Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Clayton Hee, D-23rd (Kane'ohe, Kahuku), includes Kahana Valley and Beach Park, the so-called "La Mariana" property and surrounding marina known as Pier 60 at Sand Island, the peninsula between Kalihi Stream (Sand Island) and Moanalua Stream (Disabled Veterans of America Hall), the He'eia meadow lands, the Mauna Kea Scientific Reserve (including the telescope lands) and the National Area Reserve System lands that include Lake Waiau and a nearby quarry, and all state-owned fishponds across Hawai'i.

At least some of the lands were part of a failed settlement package originally proposed by former Gov. Ben Cayetano in the 1990s when Hee was an OHA trustee. The total value is less than $200 million, Hee said.

OHA Administrator Clyde Namu'o said OHA trustees may have some concern that "if we steward these properties, we need to make sure that we have the resources to maintain them in a manner in which the community would expect."

The latest version of HB 901 also takes out the Hilo lands from the original OHA proposal but leaves in the Kaka'ako lands. Approved by the Hawaiian Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. Mele Carroll, D-13th (E. Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i), the bill asks that the balance of the $200 million be settled in lands to be determined later.

Carroll, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, had her committee hold hearings on all major islands on the settlement bill. Carroll said the Banyan Drive parcel was taken out of the proposal after Hilo residents said they didn't want it to be turned over to OHA as part of the plan.

Both the Senate and House versions also include a stipulation that OHA will transfer the lands to a Native Hawaiian governing entity upon its creation.

The Senate bill now goes to the Ways and Means Committee, while the House measure needs to be heard by the Finance Committee.

The 1959 Admission Act entrusted more than 1.2 million acres of "ceded" lands to the new state of Hawai'i as a "public" trust to be used for five purposes, including the betterment of Native Hawaiians.

OHA was designated the administrator of the Native Hawaiian share after the agency was established in 1980. That same year, the Legislature passed Act 173, which stipulated "20 percent of funds derived from the public land trust" is to be expended by OHA.

OHA, state administrations, the Legislature and the courts have grappled over the issue ever since.

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http://www.starbulletin.com/editorials/letters/20090419_Letters_to_the_Editor.html
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 19, 2009, letters to editor

Trustee backs bill on ceded-lands deal

I strongly support Senate Bill 995, which attempts to resolve claims and disputes relating to the portion of income and proceeds from the lands of the public land trust for use by OHA between Nov. 7, 1978, and July 1, 2009.

This bill proposes to convey Mauna Kea to OHA, along with several other parcels of land. The bill would allow OHA and the state to reach a "global settlement" of the past and future obligations of the state to native Hawaiians.

The committee felt that the proposal made by Gov. Ben Cayetano back in March 31, 1999, is a sensible and appropriate approach toward a "global settlement" and that it should be re-offered to OHA.

It should be noted that a global settlement does not include natural resources, water and gathering rights or any other rights.

The Senate's "global settlement" offer includes monetary payment to OHA of $251 million; conveyance of public lands from the state to OHA equal to 20 percent of the 1.8 million acres of ceded lands already inventoried, and the suspension of the $15.1 million in annual payments to OHA effective a date to be agreed upon in good faith.

In my view, SB 995 provides a great opportunity for all native Hawaiians to finally have the resources to build a strong nation.

Rowena Akana
Trustee, Office Of Hawaiian Affairs

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http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090502/NEWS02/905020324/1001
Honolulu Advertiser, Saturday, May 2, 2009

No deal for state, OHA on lands Share

By Gordon Y. K. Pang

A bill that would have the state negotiating to transfer nearly 20 percent of its land inventory to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in exchange for giving up all future claims to ceded lands appeared dead last night at the Legislature.

Conferees from the House and Senate had until midnight to find an agreement on Senate Bill 995 which may end up settling, once and for all, how much OHA should receive as its share of the revenues generated from the use of ceded lands. But key House members declined to support the bill, effectively killing it.

OHA and the state have long agreed that the agency is owed a portion of money generated by lands once owned by the Hawaiian monarchy and that are now part of the state's inventory. In fact, the state in recent years has paid OHA $15.1 million annually.

What's been in dispute is how much OHA should receive, and should have received over the past three decades.

But what really had people raising eyebrows was a new wrinkle in the plan that allows OHA the option of settling all ceded land issues involving OHA. The proposal was introduced by Sen. Clayton Hee, D-23rd (Kane'ohe, Kahuku), chairman of the Senate Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs.

By offering OHA $251 million in cash and 20 percent of the 1.8 million acres of ceded lands to be determined in negotiations between the agency and the Lingle administration, OHA would need to agree to no longer make any claims to "income or proceeds of any kind or nature whatsoever" stemming from ceded lands. It would also no longer receive $15.1 million annually.

While those in favor of a larger settlement see it as a way of resolving the ceded land dispute with the state once and for all, opponents say it is not enough to resolve the so-called "global" issue of the overthrow and worry that it could extinguish any of their claims.

Hee said such a settlement would make it difficult for OHA to "assert other entitlements" but he does not think it would stop others from filing claims if they wished. "This doesn't preclude or prevent others from asserting their rights to other issues," Hee said.

The full houses of the House and Senate would still need to have approved House Bill 995. The bill would allow OHA the option to accept either a settlement to resolve revenues from past years only, or a broader package for both past and future revenues. OHA would have until Jan. 1, 2010, just before the state of next year's legislative session, to decide if it wants either option, or neither.

The past-revenue-only settlement option would allow OHA to accept a $200 million package of cash and/or land, with the properties expected to include lands in Kaka'ako Makai, Kahana Valley, La Mariana and Pier 60 at Sand Island, the He'eia Meadlowlands, the upper reaches of Mauna Kea, Waikiki Yacht Club, state-owned fishponds, the Ala Wai Boat Harbor and Kalaeloa Makai. OHA would still receive $15.1 million annually until the future revenues issue is resolved.

Rep. Mele Carroll, D-13th (E. Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i), chairwoman of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee, said yesterday afternoon while she was supporting the plan, she was trying to get key colleagues to agree.

OHA's board members discussed the bill at its board meeting on Thursday, but chose not to formally approve it. However, according to administrator Clyde Namu'o, attorney William Meheula was asked to make suggestions to lawmakers on how to make the language more palatable.


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