Key Kaua‘i bills will become law

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday submitted to the state Legislature a list of 52 bills that she is considering for potential vetoes.

Some Kaua‘i residents have been holding their breath while the Republican governor considered what legislation to include in the list.

Specifically, community members have been tracking Senate Bill 644, introduced by state Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua‘i, and House Bill 2872, introduced by state Rep. Roland Sagum, D-16th District.

The former will prohibit the issuance of a building permit on or after Jan. 1, 2010, for single-family homes that do not have solar water heaters. The measure also directs the state Public Utilities Commission to establish standards for the systems and restricts tax credits for the solar heating units.

The latter will create a one-time process to lease public lands for recreation residence use at Waimea Canyon and Koke‘e state parks. After giving existing leaseholders a chance to renew their leases, the legislation would open up a public auction process first to bidders who reside on Kaua‘i, then to state residents and finally to nonresidents.

“We were pleased to hear that the governor will let this bill become law,” said Dan Hempey, an attorney for some of the leaseholders. “This legislation will go a long way toward protecting the historic character of Koke‘e while also allowing new folks to obtain leases at a public auction. It strikes a fair balance.”

The governor is required by statute to give the Legislature 10 days notice of any bill she is considering vetoing, prior to the deadline when she must take final action on the bills passed in the 2008 legislative session. This year the deadline to veto bills is July 8.

Any bill on the potential veto list can still be signed by the governor or allowed to become law without her signature. Placing the bills on the potential veto list allows the governor additional time to deliberate and provides additional opportunities for the public to voice their support or concern relating to the bills.

Lingle’s potential veto list includes bills concerning health care, taxation, agriculture, cigarettes, voting and medical marijuana. For a complete list, visit the governor’s Web site at hawaii.gov/gov.

“The Legislature and many individuals in the community worked hard to pass these measures; however, it is my responsibility as governor to ensure that the bills are legal, constitutional, fiscally sound and in the best long-term interest of the public,” Lingle said in a news release.

The bills are being considered for potential veto due to various factors including significant negative impacts on the public, budgetary implications, legal or constitutional concerns, potential unintended consequences, micromanagement of department operations and usurping the executive branch’s authority, the release says.

Lingle pointed out that a number of bills on the list contain good programs; however, due to the state’s fiscal outlook and the fiscal impacts the programs would have on the state’s budget, she does not believe it would be prudent to implement them at this time. The governor expressed optimism that the measures could be revisited when the state’s fiscal picture improves, the release states.

Over the next 10 days, the Lingle-Aiona administration will continue to carefully review the bills.

As she has done in prior years, the governor has been seeking comments on bills passed this session from the public, including individuals, businesses, industry and professional associations, nonprofit groups and community organizations statewide. In addition, the administration sought input from legislators, the counties, law enforcement agencies, state boards and commissions and also held or facilitated public meetings on the Neighbor Islands.

“The input we have received throughout our review process has been instrumental in providing my administration with different perspectives on the potential positive impacts or negative consequences of the bills and their potential implications should they become law,” Lingle said in the news release. “I appreciate the thoughtful comments and expert views members of the public and various organizations have contributed to this review process and I continue to welcome the public’s input.”

This year the Legislature passed 294 bills.

As of yesterday, the governor had signed or allowed to become law without her signature 200 bills. Twelve bills were vetoed while the Legislature was still in session.

For a complete list of bills that have become law this legislative session or to read the governor’s statements of objections on bills already vetoed, visit the governor’s Web site at: www.hawaii.gov/gov/leg/2008-session.

Public comments on the 52 bills being considered for vetoes on July 8 may be sent to the governor’s office via e-mail at governor.lingle@hawaii.gov or gov.policy@hawaii.gov; by fax at 808-586-0006, by phone at 808-586-0221 or by mail to Office of the Governor, Hawai‘i State Capitol, Executive Chambers, Honolulu, HI 96813.

• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or neagle@kauaipubco.com

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