Let Lingle have vetoes, groups ask
Two county mayors ask lawmakers not to override the governor as she cans measures
As Gov. Linda Lingle's veto deadline approaches Tuesday, some groups -- including county mayors -- are asking lawmakers to let some of her potential vetoes stand.
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim and Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste are urging lawmakers to let a veto of Senate Bill 755 stand. The bill would require counties to establish independent bodies that would select members of county ethics commissions.
Meanwhile, a transportation group is asking lawmakers to let stand vetoes of two bills that would use money from the state Highway Fund for pedestrian safety measures and a traffic control center on Maui.
Lingle has until Tuesday to issue any vetoes, and has given notice to lawmakers on 33 bills that she might reject.
The Legislature would have to meet that day to override any vetoes. An override requires two-thirds majority vote in both chambers, and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say they have the support to override most of her potential vetoes.
House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell (D, Manoa) said the Democrats still had time to consider the recent lobbying efforts, and that leadership would discuss the measures with members before Tuesday.
Senate Bill 755 received little testimony as it worked its way through the Legislature.
In a letter to lawmakers dated June 27, Kim said the selection of county ethics commissions "is clearly a home rule issue," and noted that the Legislature provided no money for the formation of the independent selection committees.
Baptiste, in a letter to lawmakers this week, said implementation of SB 755 could run afoul of the Kauai County Charter, which requires all board and commission members to be appointed by the mayor.
"Therefore, under the principles of home rule, a county ethics board cannot be appointed by an independent body unless a charter change allowing the appointment is approved by the voters," Baptiste wrote.
Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares took no position on the bill, but did support some of the concerns raised by Kim, her office said. Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration also took no position, a spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the Hawaii Highway Users Alliance issued a news release supporting vetoes of SB 1191, allocating $3 million for pedestrian safety measures, and House Bill 1605, which allocates $400,000 for traffic improvements on Maui, including the development of a Maui Traffic Control Center.
The Highway Users Alliance, like Lingle, objects to the use of highway fund money for other purposes.
"Diversion of highway funds eliminates or postpones realistic solutions and ruins (Department of Transportation) commitments, opportunities and budget," HHUA President Panos Prevedouros said in a statement. "DOT needs stable and sufficient funding to do its job right."
Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Rosalyn Baker disagreed with the group's characterization of the money use as a "raid" on the highway fund.
"The projects outlined in both bills are legitimate, highway related improvements that the fund was designed to accomplish," Baker (D, Honokohau-Makena), said in an e-mail response to HHUA's news release.