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Thursday, June 23, 2005



Committee to discuss
veto override

The House Labor Committee has scheduled an informational briefing next week to help lawmakers decide whether to pursue an override an anticipated veto of legislation governing the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Gov. Linda Lingle has said she would veto the bill stripping the department of its rule making authority on workers' compensation issues.

Majority Democrats introduced the measure after the Labor Department began setting new rules aimed at curbing workers comp abuses and bringing down costs for businesses. The new rules were instituted last month.

New rules were prompted after the Lingle administration failed in its attempts to bring about sweeping reforms to the workers' comp system. Democrats criticized the governor, saying she was going around the Legislature's authority to set state policies.

"I just don't think this is how you do this," said Labor Chairman Kirk Caldwell, whose committee has scheduled the informational briefing Tuesday. "I do believe it is major change and I think you can't have major change without legislation.

"You can't do it through rule making and it's not been done properly."

Lingle has said she believes the Legislature is overstepping its authority by trying to curtail the powers of a state agency.

She has noted that all of the rule changes have gone through the proper public hearing process.

Caldwell (D, Manoa) said he wants to hear from all people affected by the new rules to determine what kind of impact they are having. The committee is asking to hear from representatives from the Labor Department, the Department of Human Resources Development, the insurance industry, the business sector, health care providers and unions, among others.

"People have had a chance to look at it a little more closely," he said. "Is there any fallout? What are peoples' thoughts? Where are the savings going to come in and how does business perceive this right now?"


Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca contributed to this report.



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