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Lawmakers reject proposal to make Indigenous Peoples' Day a state holiday

Krista Rados

Hawaiʻi lawmakers have rejected a proposal establishing Indigenous Peoples' Day as an official state holiday.

Instead, legislators are proposing a day of observance — meaning no time off from work.

Senate Bill 732 initially aimed to designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

But adding another state holiday to Hawaiʻi’s calendar would have led to roughly $17 million in lost productivity, according to estimates from the state Budget and Finance Department.

An amended version of the bill would have dropped Election Day as a holiday and added Indigenous Peoples' Day instead.

This raised concerns for Waikīkī Representative Adrian Tam, Chair of the House Committee on Culture, Arts and International Affairs. Tam is instead proposing to make it a day of observance.

"The reason we’re doing this is because we don’t believe we should be eliminating Elections Day because of same-day voter registration and Hawaiʻi has low voter turnout already and doing something like this would make that worse," Tam said.

The measure unanimously passed out of the Culture, Arts and International Affairs Committee, and now awaits a hearing before the House Finance Committee.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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