The good and bad of governor’s veto list

Gov. David Ige’s Intent to Veto list is rather lengthy. Fifteen bills are in his sights. He had until Monday, June 26, to notify the Legislature of the bills he intends to veto. He did so already.

Naturally, some are not happy with his list.

State Rep. Scott K. Saiki, speaker of the House of Representatives, said after reviewing the list, the House and Senate leadership will determine whether to convene an override session to address any bills that are actually vetoed.

If an override session is not warranted, members may reintroduce their bills in the 2018 session and work to address the governor’s objections at that time.

There is some legal maneuvering here.

According to the Hawaii State Constitution, the Legislature may convene on or before July 11 in Special Session to override a veto. Specific bills may be amended and need a two-thirds vote in both chambers to pass. On July 11, any measure that has not been signed or vetoed by Gov. Ige will become law with or without his signature.

Ige’s veto would be correct with some of the bills he has listed, but in others, a veto would be wrong. Let’s take a look at some of what we believe are key bills on Ige’s list.

SB 1240 Relating to Aquatic Life

This bill requires the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to define “sustainable” and establish a policy for sustainable collection practices through take limits. This bill also prohibits the DLNR from issuing new aquarium fish permits to use fine meshed traps or fine meshed nets, and prohibits the transfer of permits after five years.

Rationale: There is concern that the science does not support the claims made by the bill. It will be premature to ban aquarium collection before doing the necessary studies. The DLNR is committed to working with all stakeholders to come up with a better solution.

We disagree. Saying “there is concern that the science does not support the claims made by the bill” is weak and vague. By now, Ige should have more specifics if he plans to veto this one. It’s time to gradually phase-out aquarium fishing. We should not be taking fish from the ocean so they can be sold and displayed in aquariums on the Mainland.

SB 410 Relating to Collective Bargaining

This measure broadens the scope of collective bargaining negotiations by requiring negotiations on the implementation of terms and conditions of employment, including making these violations grievable by employees who disagree with such working conditions.

Rationale: This bill directly impacts the ability of state departments to effectively manage its workforce by negating management rights to direct its workforce and requiring union consent on such matters as assignment, transfer and discipline.

We agree. The collective bargaining negotiations in Hawaii are already set up to the advantage of the workers. Their contracts provide more than fair wages, benefits and job protection. At some point, the state and counties need to take a stronger stance in contract negotiations to best protect taxpayers.

SB 562 Relating to Tort Liability

This measure requires the attorney general to defend any civil action or proceeding brought in any court against a county, based on any negligent or wrongful act or omission of a lifeguard who provides lifeguard services at a state beach park.

Rationale: This bill is objectionable because it requires the Attorney General to defend the counties for any civil action or proceeding, without exception.

We agree. Each case must be reviewed and determined on its own merits.

SB 1074 Relating to Fiftieth Anniversary of the Hawaii State Capitol

This measure appropriates funds to the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to plan and coordinate the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Hawaii State Capitol.

Rationale: Current provisions of state law establishing the Works of Art Special Fund under 103-8.5, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, are very specific and do not allow for the financing of a celebration of this nature.

We agree. Taxpayer money shouldn’t be used for parties. Private donors would be glad to help out if it’s that important this celebration be held.

HB 1309 Relating to Grants

This measure requires the state director of finance to seek repayment of operating grants appropriated by the Legislature if the grantee discontinues the activities or services approved in the grant.

Rationale: This bill is contrary to the intent of Chapter 42F, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, which authorizes the Legislature to appropriate general funds to nongovernmental organizations through various state agencies. The director of finance does not have the capacity to monitor all grantee programs, and relies on each state agency to enforce the provisions of the grant application and contract between the agency and grantee.

We disagree. The director of finance must take the lead on seeking repayment of operating grants as described here. If a grantee discontinues the services approved in the grant, that money must be repaid and it won’t happen without rigid enforcement.

HB 523 Relating to recycling

This measure authorizes the state Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) to establish a recycling pilot program for the onsite collection of recyclable materials at buildings and facilities.

Rationale: The amount of waste produced is insufficient to merit having an onsite recycling pilot program. The Department of Accounting and General Services regularly recycles cardboards and paper, and janitors recycle the limited amount of bottles and cans produced.

We disagree. Whatever it takes to require recycling, especially in Hawaii, islands with limited land, must be enacted.

HB 2 Relating to Agriculture

This bill authorizes the placement of “tiny homes” of 500 square feet or less of living space within the state agriculture district of Hawai‘i County. These “tiny homes” will be used by farm workers or their immediate families on land currently being used for agricultural production.

Rationale: The Hawai‘i County Zoning Code (HCC Chapter 25) already allows for a “farm dwelling” as a permitted use of agricultural-zoned lands. By Zoning Code definition, a “farm dwelling” means a single-family dwelling located on or used in connection with a farm, or if the agricultural activity provides income to the family occupying the dwelling.

We disagree. Housing costs are soaring in Hawaii. If “tiny homes” can help someone own their own home, so be it. Tiny homes have proven to be successful elsewhere. The need here is great.

HB 727 Relating to Motorcycles

This measure allows the operator of a motorcycle or motor scooter to proceed cautiously between stopped lanes of traffic and on the shoulder lane of highways. The intent is to alleviate congestion and reduce the risk of injury or loss of life.

Rationale: There is concern that this will compromise road safety. The shoulder lane is designed to accommodate stopped vehicles and emergency vehicles on highways, and bicycles on arterial roadways. While the intent of the bill is to reduce risk or injury or loss of life, there is concern that allowing shoulder lane use to these types of vehicles will instead create more danger for the operators of these vehicles.

We agree. Kauai drivers generally are in a big hurry, speed and use the shoulder of the road like it’s a regular lane. This bill would increase the chance of accidents.

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