Saturday, June 7, 2003

Lingle vetoes bill,
citing ‘favoritism’

Gov. Linda Lingle has vetoed a bill that would have continued rent relief for airport concessionaires, saying the measure is "fiscally irresponsible and philosophically objectionable."

"While the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the resulting changes in our society certainly have had a big impact on state airport concessionaires, they are not the only businesses affected," Lingle said. "It would be inherently unfair for the state to provide tens of millions of dollars or more in relief to such a limited group."

Legislature 2003
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Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

Lingle, in a veto message issued late yesterday afternoon, gave several reasons for her veto of Senate Bill 44, CD1, such as the cost of about $100 million; its impact on pending settlement talks between the state and DFS Group, which operates duty-free shops, for back rent; and that a tiny number of businesses would be singled out for an unprecedented amount of economic relief.

What was particularly troubling, the governor said, was the "tenor of distrust" that runs through the bill. She said some legislators pushed the measure through because they felt her administration could not be trusted to negotiate settlements that are fair and reasonable.

"And most troubling of all," Lingle said, "is the possibility that this bill was motivated by a fear that the administration would indeed put the best interests of all of the people of this state ahead of all other interests."

Lingle said under the bill, the airport concessions are guaranteed relief regardless of the impact on the public or the state's ability to operate its airports.

"To the extent that this bill reflects narrow-minded favoritism of a single special-interest group over the interests of the public, that alone is reason enough to veto it," she said.

Approved last month, Senate Bill 44 would have allowed airport concessions to retroactive rent relief if they were still suffering hardships from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The measure would have allowed concessions that have lost their leases since the attacks to recover their bonds and deposits and not be barred from doing business with the state for five years, as currently provided by the law.

But legislators had said the economic difficulties facing these concessionaires are beyond their control and that the state should provide some economic relief to these businesses.


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