Isle lawmakers try to override problems of an election year
AFTER Hawaii elected its first minority party governor in 40 years, the Legislature's Democratic majority started working on the political version of the two-minute drill.
In politics, unlike football where you call as many plays as fast as you can, you try to pass as many bills to the governor as fast and as early as you can.
The state's Constitution is set up so that if a bill passes the Legislature 10 days before adjournment it becomes law if not vetoed within those 10 days. And vetoed bills can then be overridden while the Legislature is still in session.
If they passed by big majorities, the vetoes are likely to be overridden.
In the Senate that would mean 17 out of the 20 Demo-crats would have to vote in favor of an override and 34 of the 41 Democrats in the House also would have to approve it.
This year the Legislature has sent up 31 bills, including one to limit Lingle's authority in appointing the adjutant general and limit her power to appoint a successor for the U.S. Senate or legislative vacancies.
For Lingle, this is the season when leading a minority government is the most wearisome. Without the number to bend the Legislature her way, Lingle has found ways to work cooperatively.
But the might of the majority is still noticeable as Lingle last week remarked, "The fact that they have the numbers doesn't make it right.
"They can override a veto, but that doesn't make it right or in the public interest."
A veto-proof majority in the House and a shakier but still theoretical veto-proof majority in the fractious Senate make it easier for Democratic leaders to sleep at night.
House Majority Leader Rep. Marcus Oshiro, for instance, points out that 29 of the 31 bills sent to the governor had unanimous support in the House, so it is likely that if Lingle gets out the veto pen, the House will be ready to ram the bill back into law anyway.
What is different this year compared to past sessions, when the Democrats were happy to override bills at the end of a session or to come back in special session for more overriding work, is that this is an election year.
"Historically, the Legislature is reluctant to call itself back into special session during a election year," Oshiro said.
A more hopeful sign today is that unlike during the 2004 election year, this is not the time for "smash-mouth" politics. With Lingle holding a popular lead in the polls, and without a major Democrat to challenge her, the Democrats have to spend their time nibbling around the edges of the legislative races.
Republicans, however, will have the more difficult job not only just avoiding getting eaten, but actually getting bigger and stronger.
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