Override session is called political show by both sides
THE state Legislature gathers at the Capitol today to consider overriding a number of vetoes from Gov. Linda Lingle, with both Republicans and Democrats saying the session is mostly about politics, not issues.
Lingle attempted to steer the debate last week by naming four bills she felt could be remedied by legislative amendment. They are among 33 measures she views as flawed.
Democrats say the bills are not flawed, they are just not what the governor wants. Republicans disagree.
"It is proof the Democrats are not interested in good legislation," says Senate GOP leader Fred Hemmings.
Senate President Colleen Hanabusa says, "A disagreement on policy does not equate with a defect in the law."
Hanabusa says some of the bills up for veto direct how to spend state money, such as use of the Highway Fund to pay for pedestrian safeguards.
"The only flaw here is the administration's inability to comprehend the structure of government," Hanabusa said in response to an article written by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who also said the vetoes are to fix "flawed bills."
Gubernatorial vetoes must be overridden with a yes vote by at least two-thirds of the members of both the House and Senate. That translates into 17 ayes in the Senate and 34 in the House.
House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell said lawmakers would press ahead with overrides where it was clear that bills had support of the Democratic caucus, noting only a handful of measures that might not have such support.
Those bills would change licensing requirements for public accountants (House Bill 91), provide psychologists with prescriptive authority in some circumstances (Senate Bill 1004) and make some amendments to workers' compensation laws (SB 1060).
Late yesterday, Lingle signed SB 1283 -- a bill she had concerns about -- which allows money from the state tobacco settlement to help pay for the University of Hawaii medical school.
Caldwell (D, Manoa) agreed with Lingle's decision to sign the UH medical school bill.
"Using part of the tobacco settlement fund to support the medical school -- there is a clear nexus between the two," he said. "I think the general fund is not going to be sufficient to fund everything we want to fund next year."
He criticized Lingle's last-minute call for cooperation as disingenuous. Lingle asked Democrats last week to work with her administration to make amendments to some proposals rather than override her vetoes.
"If it's sincere, why three days before we go into the override session is an offer made?" he said. "Within weeks of the end of session, she could've put out feelers saying, 'Let's work together.'"
House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan said GOP members planned to introduce amendments to accomplish Lingle's goals.
"From our caucus, we feel that many of the potential veto explanations were very reasonable and logical," said Finnegan (R, Mapunapuna-Foster Village).
Both legislators and observers are saying the remaining bills facing a veto and override are not crucial.
"There are no real killer bills," said Republican Sen. Sam Slom.
Last year, when the Legislature declined to override any of Lingle's vetoes, the state's labor leaders sent a letter demanding that the Legislature go back into session.
"Last year, there was more of a sense of urgency," said Randy Perreira, president of the state Federation of Labor. "This year, we expect the Legislature to come back.
"Also if these bills don't pass this year, the sun is still going to come up tomorrow."
BILLS GOV. LINGLE INTENDS TO VETO
A look at four bills that Gov. Linda Lingle has asked the Legislature to consider amending. Lingle has said her administration feels the bills are either unconstitutional or have a negative impact on the public.
» House Bill 1605: Appropriates $400,000 from the state Highway Fund to develop an intelligent transportation system architectural plan for Maui, which includes a Maui traffic control center
» Senate Bill 837: Authorizes the Agribusiness Development Corp. to purchase agricultural land in Kunia and Ewa from private parties; enables the corporation to contract with banks to provide lease management services; allows corporation to lease agricultural lands in Kunia and Ewa for as long as 55 years
» Senate Bill 1191: Appropriates $3 million from the state Highway Fund for pedestrian safety improvements by the state and counties
» Senate Bill 1922: Authorizes the Academy for Creative Media to designate the existing public broadcasting system facility at the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus as an interim home; establishes and appropriates funds for the Music and Enterprise Learning Experience program at the University of Hawaii-Honolulu Community College
Source: Hawaii State Legislature