Friday, May 7, 2004

After the 2004 state Legislature adjourned yesterday, lawmakers gathered for lunch in the state Capitol's House conference room. They included Reps. Mina Morita, left, Marilyn Lee and Ezra Kanoho.

Session wraps
for Legislature

Lingle says lawmakers squandered opportunities for real reform in education

Sen. Bunda defends passing an "ice" measure rather than waiting for another year


Saturday, May 8, 2004

The Legislature overrode seven of Gov. Linda Lingle's vetoes this year. A story on Page A1 in yesterday's early edition incorrectly said that six vetoes were overridden.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

It was a "very successful session ... with an impressive slate of accomplishments," said Senate President Robert Bunda.

It was a "session of missed opportunities in education, law enforcement and fiscal integrity," responded Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

Lawmakers quietly concluded yesterday afternoon the 22nd Legislature, marked by bitter partisan disagreements over education, drugs and the budget.

While Lingle objected to Democrats' plans on drugs and vetoed nine bills, the Legislature overrode six of the vetoes. The administration and the Legislature did, however, compromise on the budget and on a bill revamping the state's public education system.

Bunda (D, Wahiawa-Pupukea) hailed the Democrats' education package.

"This reform measure will invigorate our schools and support student achievement by directing more money to the classroom, giving principals more authority and involving parents and the community in school governance," Bunda said.

Lingle lost her fight to allow voters to decide whether the statewide school board should be broken up into seven boards, but the governor said she would bring it up again next year and push "harder than ever."

Lingle said the rejection of the school board issue showed lawmakers "didn't want real reform."

During the summer, legislators held a series of statewide hearings on illegal drug use. House Majority Leader Scott Saiki (D, Moiliili-McCully) said the resulting bill will add new drug penalties, expand drug courts and expand the Weed and Seed community anti-drug programs.

"It also establishes a multiagency task force to respond to the effects of 'ice' on children," Saiki said.

The anti-drug bill was vetoed by Lingle, but the Legislature overrode the veto. Lingle said the new law is not satisfactory.

"I know they are bragging they had a plan, but ... the fact that so many different components of the community opposed the bill, requested a veto or questioned aspects of it leads me to think they missed the mark by a lot," Lingle said.

Rep. Calvin Say, the veteran speaker of the House, rejected the criticism that the anti-drug measures are political.

"We were trying to implement policy ... rather than playing the politics of it all," said Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise).

Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Lanikai-Waimanalo) said the Legislature did only half a job in controlling the crystal methamphetamine epidemic. "Left out were a number of law enforcement initiatives supported by state and national law enforcement agencies.

Shelly Campbell, a staffer in Sen. Gordon Trimble's office, sorted old bills for paper recycling.

"It is obvious that there are those in the Legislature more concerned about criminals than protecting victims and law-abiding citizens," Hemmings said.

Bunda dismissed the criticism, saying the Democrats held hundreds of hours of public hearings on the ice bill.

"As Sen. Colleen Hanabusa said, not only did we listen to the people, we knew we couldn't wait another year before acting," Bunda said, referring to Lingle administration requests that an anti-drug plan be studied before going into effect.

The gas cap bill was revised this year by lawmakers, who put off until 2005 the effective date of the bill to regulate the commercial prices of gasoline in Hawaii.

Lingle, who does not want to control gas prices by government order, said she was facing a dilemma because if she vetoed the bill, the original law, passed two years ago, would remain.

"My impression is that a veto would just take us back to the existing bill, and that can't be implemented by July 1, so it doesn't seem like a veto would make any sense," Lingle said. "What to do with it and exactly how to respond to the Legislature, I don't know yet."

Democrats said they were sure the Legislature's accomplishments would translate into voter support in the fall elections.

Say told representatives they can be proud of their accomplishments of the past four months.

"While it may not have always been easy or a smooth process, I believe we came together and passed some of our most historic legislation this session," Say said.

In reaction, Lingle's "missed opportunities" theme was echoed by GOP leaders Hemmings and Rep. Galen Fox (R, Waikiki-Ala Moana).

Lingle warned that she will also hold the Democrats' record up for inspection.

"I think it is important that people in the districts know exactly how their individual representatives and senators vote," Lingle said.

"And people who feel they can make a contribution as a (Republican) candidate and get them (Democrats) out of office, need to do a good job of explaining how their representatives vote," Lingle said.

For instance, Lingle said, she will be speaking before 800 Lions Club members today in Kona at their annual convention, and she intends to mention the two Democratic Kona representatives, Bob Herkes and Cindy Evans. "These two people did not want us to restore fiscal integrity because they supported the Hawaii Government Employees association raises.

"Part of my responsibility is to go out and tell people how representatives voted, and I think it is an important service," Lingle said.

State Sen. Melodie Aduja, aide Phil Liu and other staffers in her office worked to pack up yesterday after the state Legislature adjourned for the year.


Education and crime bills pass

A glance at how some major issues fared in the Legislature.


>> Education: Grant principals control of 70 percent of the education budget and allow school councils to review and approve fiscal plans among other Department of Education changes.

>> Criminal justice: Emphasize treatment for students, first-time drug offenders; increase minimum sentences for trafficking in crystal methamphetamine; and make tougher penalties for manufacturing and distributing ice.


>> Education: Ask voters to approve a restructuring of the statewide Department of Education by breaking up the school board into smaller local boards.

>> Transportation: Allow the counties to operate traffic enforcement cameras to catch red-light runners and speeders.

>> Transportation: Provide the City and County of Honolulu a way to fund a fixed-rail mass transit system.

>> Criminal justice: Amend the state's wiretap law to conform with federal law, making it easier for law enforcement officials to get wiretaps.


State lawmakers overrode Gov. Linda Lingle's veto of two bills yesterday.

>> House Bill 267_SD2, transfers the Office of Elections and State Campaign Spending Commission from the Department of Accounting and General Services to the Department of the Attorney General for administrative purposes and changes the makeup of the appointed body that hires and retains the chief election officer.

>> House Bill 2608_SD1, exempts Hawaii Tourism Authority accounts from the state comptroller's supervision, revises the total compensation package for the HTA's executive director and allows the authority to hire its own attorneys.


Other bills approved by the Legislature awaiting Lingle's approval are:

>> House Bill 1374_CD1, which authorizes the state Insurance Commissioner to investigate fraud complaints against insurance carriers and self-insured employers.

>> House Bill 1770_CD1, allows judges to revoke the licenses of drivers caught speeding over 90 mph for up to five years. It also raises the fines for car owners who allow their car alarms to sound continuously for more than five minutes.

>> House Bill 1828_CD1, prohibits urinating and defecating in public in downtown Honolulu.

>> House Bill 2375_SD1, makes illegal dumping of solid waste a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

>> House Bill 2396_CD1, creates a State Private Investment Fund, extends the state high-technology tax credit law another five years and tightens the requirements for claiming the tax credit.

>> House Bill 2511_CD1, shortens the time businesses are required to remit their state withholding taxes.

>> House Bill 2569_SD1, establishes labeling requirements for shell products labeled "Niihau Shells."

>> House Bill 2883_CD1, authorizes wireless telephone service providers to charge subscribers 66 cents a month to set up and operate a wireless enhanced 911 system that can locate callers who dial 911 on their cellular telephones.

>> Senate Bill 2063_CD1, establishes a textbook and instructional materials fee special account and prohibits schools from selling textbooks and equipment without written permission from the Department of Education.

>> Senate Bill 2843_HD2, proposes a constitutional amendment to make it easier for the state to reopen the online Sex Offender Registry.

>> Senate Bill 2846_HD2, proposes a constitutional amendment to protect the communication between an alleged rape victim and rape counselor.

>> Senate Bill 2851_SD1, proposes to put back on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that will allow prosecutors to charge suspects with felonies without having to present evidence or witnesses before a judge or grand jury.

>> And Senate Bill 3170_CD1, changes the effective date of the gasoline price cap to September 2005 and changes the index to one based on nationwide gasoline prices.


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