Disagreement about bills doesn't make them 'flawed'
I AM PERPLEXED by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona's guest column "Flawed bills need a fix, not a fight" (Star-Bulletin, July 8
) and I ask: "Where in the world was Duke?" We know that Gov. Linda Lingle was in Asia, but I believe Aiona was here. So, why didn't he call?
At no time did Aiona contact the speaker or me to discuss these bills. I did contact Lingle's senior policy adviser Linda Smith, the University of Hawaii, PBS, the attorney general and others on Senate Bill 1922, all within the week prior to the governor revealing that she had placed the bill on her list of potential vetoes. I can say that in my experience, compromise was never initiated through a letter of the kind we saw in this instance. Informing the media of the letter before delivering it to legislative leaders is not a sincere or productive way to foster open discussions.
This letter was sent only two working days prior to when the governor's objections were due along with the list of bills that could be returned to the legislature. The other question should be, what were they doing for two months?
What is most troubling is the administration's depiction of these bills as flawed. The mere fact that the governor disagrees with the Legislature does not make a bill defective; it means that the system of checks and balances is working as the Constitution intends.
TAKE SB 1922. The Legislature has determined that the use of the lands by PBS Hawaii is for the benefit of the state and the public. Still, our public television station, which serves a clear statewide public interest function, is on a month-to-month lease with the university. This is exactly the kind of situation where the Legislature can and should take action, and we did.
As for SB 1191 (pedestrian safety) and House Bill 1605 (Maui traffic control center), the fact that the administration and the Legislature disagree on the source of funding doesn't mean the bills are flawed. The determination of a funding source is a policy decision of the Legislature, the kind of decision we are expected, and elected, to make.
The governor objects to SB 837 with a request for the use of eminent domain powers. Having participated in the Kukui Gardens situation, I know there is a fundamental difference when the state's funds are part of a sale price and when they are not. The purchase of the Kunia parcel is a policy statement as to the preservation of agricultural lands for the future generations. Moreover, no one can honestly or reliably say that the condemnation price will be less than the price agreed to without condemnation. Further, acquiring land through eminent domain incurs additional legal fees and takes additional time.
How the lieutenant governor can write that these bills are seriously flawed is beyond rational explanation. As I have contended, a disagreement on policy does not equate with a defect in the law.
THE PUBLIC has a right to expect that the lieutenant governor will understand what a flawed bill is vs. one that the administration simply disagrees with. The determination of funding is a policy statement, clearly within the purview of the Legislature. The only flaw here is in the administration's inability to comprehend the structure of government.
Every elected official in Hawaii should be willing to recognize and embrace the constitutional structure that allows our government to enact the laws that protect those we serve. I can only hope that in the future, the governor -- whether speaking for herself or through the lieutenant governor -- will show more respect for the established and effective separation of powers, and stop placing politics and public relations over good public policy.
Colleen Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) is president of the state Senate.