Lawmakers insert rule where it’s not needed
A bill to change the nomination process for the University of Hawaii's Board of Regents is expected to win approval.
DEMOCRATIC lawmakers have moved efficiently to clear a measure on a new nomination process
for members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, taking a final step toward inserting legislative control into what had been largely the purview of the governor.
The bill's smooth sailing will allow Democrats enough time to override a veto before the session ends. Though it might be a futile gesture, Gov. Linda Lingle should reject the bill, if not to express personal displeasure then to protest the adverse erosion of gubernatorial power.
The new process that voters approved last year through a constitutional amendment strips much of a governor's authority to choose and appoint regents.
The enabling legislation creates an advisory council with the governor, House speaker, Senate president, UH faculty senate chairman, student caucus, former regents and alumni association each appointing a member. The group then would draw up a list of candidates from which a governor can choose a nominee, where in the past, he or she simply picked an appointee. Nominees still will need the approval of the state Senate.
One part of the bill has merit. It expands the number of regents from 12 to 15 and requires neighbor island representation to broaden the board's perspective beyond the university's Oahu facilities.
The change was purely a power play aimed at a Republican governor, but lawmakers' rivalry with the executive branch has never been limited, even when the office was held by a member of their own party.
Despite the bill, Lingle has already submitted her choices for nominees, including five regents currently on the board. If none of them make the advisory council's list of candidates, she will certainly have laid the groundwork for asking why not.
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