Bill’s demise logical but problems live
On Tuesday, Gov. Linda Lingle objected to and vetoed 32 the 354 bills that were passed by Hawaii's legislature this year.
Only one of those -- Senate Bill 2150 -- was related to recreational boating and, as it was meant to prohibit the transfer of the state's small boat harbors to any county without legislative approval, her veto seems logical.
She found the bill objectionable because it was more restrictive than an existing statute that "authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to lease fast lands within an existing state boating facility for private development, management, and operation without legislative approval," the governor said.
"(SB 2150) is contrary to public policy because it places the counties at a disadvantage when compared with private parties if the counties desire to seek authority to operate a state-owned small boat harbor."
Of course, the whole question is probably moot anyway as the counties haven't shown much interest in taking over any of the state's facilities.
And how can you blame them after virtually every small boat harbor has been allowed to fall into such total disrepair? The expense to rebuild the marinas will be staggering.
An interesting side note to the demise of SB 2150 is that in its original form, it was a bill to require 10 percent of the general excise taxes from the revenues generated by the ocean recreation industry during the previous fiscal year to be placed into the Boating Special Fund.
As State Auditor Marion Higa has long noted, one of the reasons for the dismal state of the marinas maintained by the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation has been an ongoing revenue shortfall. So the original SB 2150 might have been a good thing.
But from the time it was introduced in late January, to its final passage in early May, its wording had been altered beyond recognition through the use of amendments.
There was an amendment attached to it for a time that would have given the Boating Special Fund 50 percent of the moorage application fees collected from commercial boats that use the small boat harbors, but this too disappeared before its final passage.
Ultimately, our lawmakers, with little concern for recreational boaters, took a piece of legislation that had originally been drafted to give DOBOR additional revenue to maintain its marinas and turned it into a self-serving bill that would keep politicians in control, while maintaining the status quo.
Is it any wonder that boaters in Hawaii -- as well as DOBOR administrators -- are stunned when they learn of this year's $11 million increase to California's Department of Boating and Waterways latest budget that now totals $83.5 million?
Clearly that state's politicians understand the relationship of recreational boating and the nearly $20 billion of direct and indirect revenues it adds to California's general economy.
As for Hawaii's legislature, it appears that such an understanding will take some sort of an epiphany -- if it ever happens.