Override of vetoed UH bill likely
Voters had OK'd the change to the regent selection process
Gov. Linda Lingle has vetoed a bill that would change the way nominees are selected to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, but majority Democrats in the Legislature appear poised to override the action.
The change in the regent selection process, included in Senate Bill 14, was approved by voters in November.
It would require the governor to select regent nominees from a list provided by a newly created advisory council. Currently, the governor may nominate anyone, with the appointment subject to Senate confirmation.
"The governor continues to resist the people's call for change in the appointment of regents," Senate President Colleen Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) said in a statement. "The Senate will preserve the will of Hawaii's voters and override this veto."
House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Palolo Valley-Wilhelmina Rise) said the House also has the votes to override.
"The people voted for this change, and we will honor their wishes," Say said in a statement.
In her statement of objections issued yesterday, Lingle said Senate Bill 14 would lead to regent nominees beholden to special interests, and noted that the university's accrediting bodies and a national association of university governing boards had serious concerns about the new selection process.
University President David McClain also testified against the bill, citing the concerns of the educational groups.
"I do not believe any governor, regardless of party, would agree to a process that is opposed by the president of the University of Hawaii and those very organizations that judge whether to accredit the state's premier institution of higher learning," Lingle stated.
The seven-member Candidate Advisory Council would include one member each selected by the governor, House speaker, Senate president, UH faculty senate chairman, UH student caucus, former regents and the UH Alumni Association.
Democrats fast-tracked the legislation to the governor, leaving themselves enough time to override a veto before the end of session May 3.
An override would require approval by two-thirds of the members in each chamber, and the final version of the bill easily reached that threshold previously, winning passage by 42-3 in the House and 18-4 in the Senate.
Democrats have argued that having potential nominees named by a diverse selection committee removes politics from the process.
"The council established by Senate Bill 14 gives voice to a number of groups that have both a knowledge of and an interest in what is best for our university system," Hanabusa said.