CIRA de CASTILLOTGI Staff Writer
HONOLULU — The difference between the word indemnity and immunity may keep
the Legislature from passing a law that would allow the county to put
lifeguards at state beaches.
The bill (SB2001), which passed both the
senate and the house judiciary committees, calls for the counties to be
indemnified from any lawsuits that may arise from accidents of deaths that
occur at state beaches that are operated by the county.
As written, the
measure places the burden of responsibility with the state and indemnifies the
county from lawsuit liability. The Attorney General has testified against
passage of the measure because of the potential liability.
If the bill
passes the Legislature, Gov. Ben Cayetano may not sign the bill due to the AG’s
The AG, according to his testimony, is not opposed to the
intent of the bill but rather to the liability that will be passed onto the
state if the bill, as written, is put into law.
The Kusaka Administration
has been looking into having the bill amended to provide the county with
immunity from lawsuits rather than the indemnification. This change, said
Kusaka, would be met with stiff resistance from the powerful “plaintiff
Amending legislation this late in the session may prove
tricky according to the rules and timetables set by the Legislature, said C.J.
Leong, assistant house clerk. The measure is headed to the house floor for a
If the bill is to be amended, it would have to “decked” by today.
That would create the opportunity for the bill to be amended on the House
Floor. However it is not a common practice to have bills amended on the Floor,
said Leong. “But it does happen,” she added.
The House Judiciary and
Hawaiian Affairs committee would need to initiate discussions related to any
amendment being offered on the floor. The bill if amended and passed would then
be sent back to the Senate for approval.
If the bill is not included in
today’s decking process, it could be held in the House, unamended, until April