Tax, gas bills avoid Lingle’s veto pen
She will allow tax cuts on gasoline and for low-income workers
STORY SUMMARY »
Tax cuts aimed at easing the burden on low-income taxpayers and bringing down costs for fueling up at the pump are moving forward.
Those proposals were not listed among the 33 bills Gov. Linda Lingle said she may veto, meaning she will either endorse them or allow them to become law without her signature.
Despite the state Council on Revenues' forecast that tax collections are expected to be down by as much as $90 million by June 30, the end of the fiscal year, Lingle said she believes the tax cuts passed by the Legislature are affordable and needed.
"Yes, in fact, I think it should have been a lot more tax relief," Lingle said.
House Bill 1757, forgiving the general excise tax on gasoline blended with ethanol, is expected to bring down the costs of fuel by 12-15 cents a gallon at current prices. Yesterday's statewide average of $3.39 a gallon for regular unleaded is about 16 cents higher than on May 3, when the Legislature gave final approval to the exemption.
The GET exemption, estimated to cost about $36 million, was passed in concert with Senate Bill 990, which would enact new reporting requirements for the oil industry to show what goes into the price of gasoline. That bill already has been signed into law.
Meanwhile, SB 148 and SB 1882 give an estimated $49 million back to low- and middle-income taxpayers through tax refunds and food and excise tax credits for those who qualify.
Bills poised to become new state laws
» The price of gas is expected to drop 12 to 15 cents a gallon with a law that forgives the general excise tax on ethanol-blended gasoline.
» Taxpayers with adjusted incomes of under $60,000 will get a refund through a tax credit.
» Taxpayers with adjusted income of under $50,000 will get a food and excise tax break.
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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Gov. Linda Lingle talked about some potential vetoes during a news conference at the state Capitol yesterday.
33 bills land on tentative veto list
Bills aimed at protecting pedestrians, fostering inventions and giving women a chance to give up their newborns are some of the bills Gov. Linda Lingle says she may veto on July 10.
Lingle yesterday released a list of 33 bills passed by the Legislature that have raised questions. She said the vetoes are not definite, and she is asking the public to send in concerns to her office before the July 10 deadline.
Also up in the air is the political decision by the Legislature's Democratic leaders about whether they are going to override any of Lingle's pending vetoes.
Vetoed bills must be overridden by at least two-thirds of the members of both chambers.
"The pedestrian safety bill, the workers' compensation bill are issues, but whether or not these rise to the level that people will actually ask us to come back in, we have to wait and decide," said Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.
Rep. Tom Brower, who along with fellow Democrat John Mizuno attended Lingle's news conference yesterday in her office, said House members would scrutinize the list, but ultimately will have to wait and see what happens.
"Just because it's on the veto list doesn't mean that it's going to be vetoed," said Brower (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana). "From what I've seen this session, all the legislators are going to take a real careful look."
The pedestrian safety measure, Senate Bill 1191, would take $3 million from the state Highway Fund to subsidize county improvements to crosswalks.
The AARP lobbied for the bill and Lingle had supported it when the funds came from the general fund, but when the Legislature decided to take funds from the Highway Fund, which is already running short of money, Lingle objected.
Bruce Bottorf, with AARP, sent out a release before yesterday's announcement, criticizing Lingle's action.
"Given the unprecedented level of grass-roots support for pedestrian safety improvements, AARP believes it is unconscionable for the administration not to respond to the people's call for the protection of pedestrians on our roadways," Bottorf said.
Another bill, House Bill 1830, would give immunity from prosecution for a person who gives up a newborn less than 72 hours old.
The bill is designed to allow women who cannot care for a new child to leave the baby at a hospital or police station without being charged with abandoning the baby.
Lingle vetoed a similar bill in 2003.
Yesterday said she said the "bill provides no safeguards to protect the rights of both parents or extended family members.
"The infant would be placed at a disadvantage regarding eligibility for blood-quantum based programs," Lingle said.
Another bill that Lingle objected to, HB 855, changes the workers' compensation law and would limit the state labor director in changing rules without legislative approval.
Jim Tollefson, president and chief executive officer of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, had campaigned against the bill, saying neither labor nor management liked it and predicted it would raise costs for both workers and employers.
Inventors had lobbied Lingle to approve HB 1670, which would create "The Hawaii Ingenuity Co."
The company would be a private corporation created within state government to foster inventions.
Scientists and inventors, including the innovators of liquid crystal displays and MRI machines, had lobbied Lingle to support the bill, but the governor said, "Just because it has a catchy name, doesn't make it a good bill."
Lingle said the bill would make the state liable for the actions of the private corporation, without the state having any control over the company.
A bill not listed and is therefore moving forward is aimed at bringing local control to the 13 community hospitals under the Hawaii Health Systems Corp.
SB 1792 establishes a new board for the health system and also sets up five regional boards with governance powers over operations and finances of hospitals in each region.
Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes contributed to this report.
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Lingle’s veto candidates
A look at some of the 33 bills that may be vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle. The governor has until July 10 to issue vetoes on any of the bills on her list provided to the Legislature.
» Senate Bill 1004: Authorizes prescriptive authority for qualified psychologists who practice at a federally qualified health center.
» SB 1191: Appropriates $3 million over two years for pedestrian safety improvements by the state and counties.
» SB 1283: Allows the University of Hawaii to use money from the Hawaii Tobacco Settlement Special Fund to pay for operating expenses of the new medical school facility in addition to paying debt.
» House Bill 30: Prohibits state officials from binding the state to government procurement rules of an international trade agreement without legislative action.
» HB 91: Removes private or governmental accounting experience as a requirement for obtaining a license in public accountancy.
» HB 436: Requires Med-QUEST and Medicaid coverage for chiropractic care.
» HB 1830: Provides immunity from prosecution to anyone who leaves an unharmed newborn at a hospital, fire station, police station or with emergency services personnel within 72 hours of the child's birth.