Thursday, March 10, 2005

Lingle vows veto
of ‘power grab’ bills

Legislative numbers favor
the Democrats on two
labor measures

Gov. Linda Lingle says she will veto "not all, but most" of the proposals being advanced by legislative Democrats that aim to curtail or restrict some powers of the Governor's Office and various state agencies.

Any veto could be reversed by Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 4-to-1 in both chambers -- more than the two-thirds majority needed for an override.

Specifically, Lingle said yesterday she would veto two measures related to labor.

One is a Senate bill to extend the term of governor-appointed Hawaii Labor Relations Board members to 10 years from six years as a means to reduce political influence. The other proposal, passed in both chambers, would temporarily limit the rule-making authority of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations on workers' compensation issues.

Lingle characterized the labor board bill as "Democrats in the Legislature trying to take back to statute what they lost in the (2002) election, which is the ability to make that kind of an appointment or influence that kind of an appointment. That's just clearly not right and disrespectful of the public."

She said the attempt to curtail an agency's authority was "clearly violating that separation between the Legislature and the executive (branch)."

House leaders said they were not inclined to hear the labor board bill, but would likely override a veto of the rule-making proposal.

Democrats have argued that the labor department has proposed changing rules for workers' compensation as a way of trying to implement sweeping reforms defeated by the Legislature the past two years.

"We saw it as a bald-face end run around the Legislature's authority," said House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Poamoho). "She is entering dangerously close to legislating through the rule-making process."

Other proposals characterized as "power grabs" by the GOP include one that would require the governor to hold public hearings to explain why she is restricting funds and formally justify how she uses federal money.

"All we're trying to do is ... make it much more efficient so that everybody understands the reasons why there is the restriction," said House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise).

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