CALM AFTER THE LEGISLATIVE STORM:
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, left, was among the lawmakers and aides sharing a laugh yesterday with Jeff Mikulina, the Sierra Club's state director, during a Global Warming Solutions Act of 2007 news conference at the state Capitol. CLICK FOR LARGE
Squabbles spell survival for a veto
A tax break for local airlines fails, and Lingle wins on voting
Disagreement among majority Democrats in the House allowed for at least one of Gov. Linda Lingle's vetoes to stand on the final day of the legislative session.
Lawmakers also killed a measure to provide tax exemptions for local airlines, saying the bill was flawed and would not have accomplished its intent.
Senate Bill 1034 would have lifted the excise tax and use tax on fuel sold for airlines flying within the state, up to a total of $3.8 million.
House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell said that because of the way the bill was drafted, the savings would have amounted to $150,000 to be split among the state's four interisland carriers.
"It didn't give the tax break that we were hoping would be given," said Caldwell (D, Manoa). "There was no time to make the correction."
Sales of fuel sold from a foreign-trade zone for use by airlines traveling out of the state are exempt from general excise and use taxes.
"We've committed to really work on it next year to get this thing done right and give the same kind of excise tax relief to our local interisland carriers that the large carriers get coming from the mainland and from Asia," Caldwell said.
Meanwhile, disagreement among House Democrats allowed at least one of Lingle's vetoes to stand.
SB 1956 would have allowed Hawaii to join a movement among states calling for the president to be elected by the national popular vote, instead of the Electoral College.
The measure has been pushed in 47 states, although only Maryland has passed it into law.
Lingle vetoed the measure, saying it would allow Hawaii's electoral votes to go to a presidential candidate whom the majority of state voters did not support.
The Senate overrode Lingle's veto on Tuesday by a 20-5 vote. Overrides require approval of two-thirds of the members of each chamber, and House leaders said they did not appear to have the 34 votes needed to complete the override.
"There are those who believe 100 percent in the Electoral College and don't want to give that up after 230 years, and there's a strong group also that believes that really it's one person, one vote -- that the popular vote is all that really matters," said Caldwell, who supports the popular vote. "It's difficult to get people to move off those two areas."
Rep. Della Au Belatti, who voted against the measure, said she feels the issue needs to be debated further. She also was critical of a well-financed ad campaign lobbying for passage of the bill.
"In light of all the commercial ads that have been coming out, I think that raises serious questions about this process," said Belatti (D, Tantalus-Makiki).