The Senate Ways and Means Committee will decide this Friday whether to re-establish Lā Kū‘oko‘a, or Hawaiian Recognition Day, as an official state holiday.

Senate Bill 3096, introduced by Majority Leader J. Kalani English, would make the fourth Friday in November — that is, the day after Thanksgiving — Hawaiian Recognition Day.

“The Legislature finds that every state in the Union celebrates holidays unique to that state’s history,” the bill explains. “Lā Kū‘oko‘a, Hawaiian Recognition Day, was widely celebrated with pride as Hawaii became an emerging power in the Pacific among the global powers of that time.”

The Kamehameha III statue in Thomas Square. During his tenure Hawaii first celebrated Hawaiian Recognition Day. Flickr: Daniel Ramirez

The first Hawaiian Recognition Day came in 1847 under Kamehameha III, and the celebration marked by luau, music and marches grew under the reign of King Kalakaua.

“The day remained a national holiday under the Provisional Government of Hawaii (1893), the Republic of Hawaii (1894-1898), and the initial years of the Territory of Hawaii,” the bill states.

Because 2020 is the first year statewide elections are to be conducted by mail, SB 3096 would eliminate Election Day in November as a state holiday.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Ka Lei Papahi O Kakuhihewa, the Beneficiary Trust Council, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, the Hawaiian Affairs Caucus, the Prince Kuhio Hawaiian Civic Club and Ka Lahui Hawaii Political Action Committee testified in support of SB 3096.

Should the measure pass WAM, it will go to the full Senate for a vote in anticipation of crossing over to the House for consideration.

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