Veto list, for the most part, makes sense

Friday, we took a longer look at Gov. David Ige’s veto list that included Senate Bill 2407 as it relates to medical cannabis.

Today we take a shorter look at some of the remaining items of his Intent to Veto list, which includes 11 measures. The Hawaii State Constitution requires the governor to notify the Legislature of the Intent to Veto list no later than the 35th day after adjournment, which is June 25. On July 10, any measure that the governor has not signed or not vetoed will become law without his signature.

HB1621 Relating to consumer protection

Part 1 of this measure prohibits merchants from charging any fee to repair, replace or refund for damaged or defective goods. Part 2 requires high-turnover restaurant franchises to disclose their non-participation in national advertising campaigns and prohibits the franchisor/restaurant chain from limiting or restricting the disclosure.

Rationale: Part 2 of the measure provides a vague definition of “high-turnover restaurant.” As written, the law would be unenforceable as the measure does not provide explicit standards to measure conditions such as the average duration of a customer’s stay or determine a menu’s price range. The measure also exempts fast food restaurants, which runs counter to current consumer protections, as the majority of complaints received by the state Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) regarding this issue involve fast food chains.

We agree.

SB2699 Relating to the Transient Accommodations Tax

This measure attempts to include resort fees in gross rental proceeds that are subject to the Transient Accommodations Tax.

Rationale: This measure creates an extensive and ambiguous expansion of the TAT. The vague language could subject restaurants, spas and other businesses located in hotels to add the TAT to their services. Currently, the state Department of Taxation imposes the TAT on mandatory resort fees. The additional taxes imposed by this measure would result in significant increases in accommodation costs for residents and visitors staying in Hawaii hotels.

The governor is correct in his plan to veto this bill. The state and counties should not become more reliant on the TAT to create revenue. Those staying in hotels already pay sufficient fees and taxes.

HB2589 Relating to Motorcycles

This measure authorizes the state Department of Transportation to allow two-wheeled motorcycles to drive in designated shoulder lanes.

Rationale: The shoulder lane is designated to accommodate stopped vehicles and emergency vehicles on highways, as well as bicycles on arterial roadways. There is concern that this will compromise road safety and create more dangers for operators of all vehicles.

This bill, as the governor points out, could create dangerous situations on our already crowded highways. The idea of motorcycles zipping past a line of traffic by using the shoulder of the road is not a good one. Motorcycles should not have a green light to use shoulders.

SB2519 Relating to the Environment

This measure authorizes the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) to enter into contracts with private businesses to remove select municipal solid waste, glass and food/green waste from the waste stream for use in other businesses, provided that it benefits agriculture and agriculture-related projects.

Rationale: This measure will interfere with the counties’ authority to direct the disposal of municipal solid waste to specific locations under Section 340A-3, Hawaii Revised Statutes. The statute authorizes counties to require that solid waste be disposed of at designated facilities or areas. It is unclear whether ADC’s or the counties’ authority would have priority when determining control over the municipal waste disposal.

The governor should not veto this bill. It makes sense and would be an efficient way to reduce the waste stream, which is critical in Hawaii with limited landfill space.

SB2919 Relating to Public Libraries

This measure establishes a pilot program to generate revenue through the lease of public library lands to support the mission of the public library system.

Rationale: In general, executive orders set aside public trust lands for public purposes. If those lands are no longer needed for library purposes, executive orders should be withdrawn and the lands returned to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Further, the Hawaii State Public Library System does not have the resources and expertise to undertake the leasing of public lands for purely income-generating purposes.

While this bill sounds good, the governor’s plan to veto it makes sense.

SB2992 Relating to Campaign Finance

This measure exempts signs and banners from certain election-law disclaimer requirements relating to advertisements with the exception of signs and banners advocating the passage or defeat of a ballot issue, which are still required to contain the name and address of the candidate, candidate committee, or non-candidate committee paying for the sign or banner.

Rationale: The state Campaign Spending Commission is concerned that exempting signs and banners from certain election-law disclaimer requirements will reduce transparency in campaign finance.

This bill seems to want to let people deliver a political message but keep their identity hidden. People are free to share their political views and promote political agendas, but they need to stand behind what they say, even on signs and banners. So, this bill should be vetoed.

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