CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa smiled after ending yesterday's joint session of the House and Senate.
Legislature overrides 4 Lingle vetoes
The Legislature overrode four of Gov. Linda Lingle's 13 vetoes last night.
In comparison, the Legislature overrode 19 of 42 vetoes last year.
A bill with some national implications, Senate Bill 2898, which puts Hawaii in line to pledge Hawaii's presidential electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, instead of the winner among Hawaii voters, was overridden.
Lingle said the bill could give Hawaii's electoral votes to the candidate who does not win in Hawaii.
So far only Illinois, New Jersey and Vermont have voted for the measure.
"This is foolhardy and shortsighted," said Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Waimanalo-Lanikai).
Republican Sens. Sam Slom, Gordon Trimble and Hemmings voted against the override, along with Sen. Clarence Nishihara (D, Waipahu-Pearl City).
In the House, majority Democrats overrode all four measures with no Republican opposition, after all seven GOP members walked off the floor in protest.
As the House took up the first of four veto overrides, Rep. Cynthia Thielen criticized what she called "petty partisan politics at its worst."
After being ruled out of order, Thielen concluded her remarks by saying, "I don't want to participate in this petty partisanship of overriding vetoes of Gov. Linda Lingle, the most popularly elected governor in our state's history."
After drawing audible groans from Democrats, Thielen (R, Kaneohe-Kailua) and Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan (R, Mapunapuna-Foster Village) led their GOP colleagues off the floor.
All of the vetoes were overridden with the two-thirds majority needed.
Three House Democrats voted against the national popular vote bill, arguing that it would diminish the power of smaller states in choosing the president.
After the debate on the vetoes, Republicans Kymberly Pine and Gene Ward returned to the floor for closing remarks.
"The reason why the minority caucus walked out is because they feel that this body is not listening to the people of Hawaii, not listening to the very people that elected the governor," said Pine (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point).
The other bills overridden were House Bill 7, which expands the state's prescription drug program; SB 2779, which restricts when the governor may suspend prevailing wage and hour laws during an emergency; and SB 868, which allows the Legislature to question boards and commissions without getting permission from the governor.
In one clear battle between the Legislature and the executive branch, the Senate overrode Lingle's rejection of SB 2828, which limited the governor's powers to declare an emergency.
But the veto was not taken up by the House, and Lingle's veto stands.
Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes contributed to this story.