HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawai’i U.S. Congressman Kaiali’i Kahele’s bill, called the Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole Protecting Family Legacies Act, received its first hearing in Washington.

The hearing was held on Tuesday at the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples (HNRSIP) in the United States.

According to Kahele, the bill would ensure long-term tenancy to beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commissions Act (HHCA) and their successors by reducing the successorship qualification of a lessee’s spouse, children, grandchildren and brothers or sisters from one quarter to one thirty-second Hawaiian.

Download the free KHON2 app for iOS or Android to stay informed on the latest news

Congressman Kahele said Tuesday’s subcommittee hearing advances Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole’s 100-year vision one step closer to reality.

“Native Hawaiians have a right to return to their lands to realize their own self-sufficiency and self-determination,” Kahele said. “The Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole Protecting Family Legacies Act would provide cultural continuity and economic stability for generations of Native Hawaiian families.”

Listening to Kahele’s testimony at Tuesday’s hearing was Subcommittee Chair Leger Fernandez of the (HNRSIP).

“At today’s (Tuesday) hearing, Rep. Kahele and Chairman Aila presented compelling testimony about the importance of enacting the Family Legacies Act so that Native Hawaiian families are able to access and pass on their homes and homeland to their children and grandchildren — their ‘ohana,” Fernandez said.

Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You

Kahele said the next step for this legislation is a markup by the full Natural Resources Committee where all Committee Members would vote to advance the bill for consideration on the floor of the U.S House of Representatives.

“Today (Tuesday) we have an opportunity and responsibility to continue familial connections not only to family members but also future descendants to the ‘aina (ancestral lands),” Chairman William Aila said.