House, Lingle failed to see sunlight on clothesline bill
Lawmakers overrode a veto of an invasive species bill, but the House capitulated on an energy-saving measure the governor rejected.
Chalk up a win for Hawaii's environment with the state Legislature's override of Gov. Linda Lingle's veto of a measure that will help prevent harmful bugs, plants and other organisms from migrating to the islands.
Chalk up a loss for energy conservation with the House's refusal to override Lingle's veto of a simple way for homeowners to cut their electricity bills and lessen production of greenhouse gases.
The governor threw out energy-saving legislation that would not have required huge capital investment, long-term research, ecosystem assessments, new machinery or complex technology -- just a length of cord, clothespins and the renewable powers of sun and wind.
Despite overwhelming approval by its members, House leaders were unwilling to stand up for the measure that would have disallowed community associations from banning clotheslines.
Lingle contended that the bill could invalidate association rules, but it merely amended a law that prohibited a similar restriction on solar-energy devices, which has not had such effects on associations' policies.
The governor also said that people who bought homes in developments controlled by associations knew what they were getting into. However, as costs for electricity escalate along with concerns about climate change, homeowners should have the option to save hundreds of dollars on their utility bills by hanging their towels and T-shirts out to dry.
The measure did not require homeowners to have clotheslines, nor did it dictate rules for clotheslines other than they not be so restrictive as to render them useless. It just gives people a choice.
Legislators were correct in overriding the governor on a bill that will dedicate funds to stave off invasive species. The new law levies a fee of 50 cents per 1,000 pounds of freight, which will bring in nearly $7 million a year to be used by the state Department of Agriculture to inspect, quarantine and eradicate unwanted species.
Through the years, thousands of harmful plants, insects and animals have been introduced in Hawaii through ship and air cargo. Some have caused considerable damage not only to the native environment, but to business and industry.
The state spent millions of dollars to remove just one plant that was suffocating Lake Wilson. Millions more have and will be spent to counter other plants that intrude on forests, streams and the ocean, screeching frogs that disturb residents and tourists, stinging insects that have no natural predators and mites that threaten Hawaii's highly regarded bee industry.
The law provides an ounce of prevention.