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Lawmakers assess vetoes for overrides


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The state Legislature's Democrats meet today to decide which of the 65 possible vetoes that Gov. Linda Lingle revealed yesterday they would override.

               

     

 

VETO POWER

        Here are some of the major bills that Gov. Linda Lingle says she may veto on July 15:
       

HB 952: Allows unions to organize a business without a referendum.

       

HB 1271: Promotes economic development for local food and energy businesses and tries to ensure Hawaii is energy and food self-sufficient and sustainable by raising the tax on a barrel of oil from a nickel to $1.05.

       

HB 1405: Creates a standard for taxing out-of-state businesses, such as Amazon.com, on their business activities in Hawaii.

       

SB 199: Scales back the high-tech tax breaks in Act 221. Legislators say if Lingle vetoes the bill, the state will lose $150 million.

       

SB 1350: Increases the affordable housing requirement for development in Kakaako.

       

Although Republican Lingle yesterday detailed her objections to the 65 measures, the fate of the bills rests with the Democratic majority.

It takes a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate to nullify vetoes, and Democrats have a combined 68-8 majority. Legislators plan a series of caucuses today to discuss their priorities.

During the 2009 legislative session, Lingle held a public veto session and rally at the state Capitol as she rejected four tax-increase bills. The Legislature promptly overrode all four vetoes, and starting today the new laws will increase taxes on real estate sales, hotel rooms and state income.

Yesterday Lingle singled out several more tax bills, including Senate Bill 199, which scales back Act 221 high-tech tax credits. Critics said the bill was costing the state millions every year, while supporters said it was responsible for growing the embryonic technology community in Hawaii.

Lingle did not state her objections to the bill in her message, just noting that it eliminated the 2-to-1 multiplier on business tax credit and capped the credit at 80 percent of investments.

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said she doubts Lingle will really veto that bill because it would mean a $150 million tax loss.

Lingle signed the state budget, Hanabusa noted, but it is a balanced budget only because of bills such as SB 199. “;We have to protect the budget,”; Hanabusa said.

Another bill Lingle flagged would increase affordable housing requirements for new construction in Kakaako, but critics say SB 1350 would shut out developers because the housing requirements are too strict.

In her message to the Legislature, Lingle said the bill would also “;place a temporary moratorium on building permits during a period of economic decline when we should be encouraging construction activity.”;

Lingle said the bill would hurt affordable housing options by creating “;unreliable and unworkable”; housing conditions.

House Speaker Calvin Say, one of the bill's proponents, was not available for comment yesterday, but Hanabusa said the bill cleared the Senate only “;with a lot of drama.”;

“;I can't say for certain that that bill will be overridden,”; Hanabusa said.

Hanabusa did say she thought there would be support to override House Bill 1271, the so-called “;barrel tax bill.”;

Environmentalists have argued that the bill, which increases from 5 cents to $1.05 the tax on the sale of every barrel of oil, would go to fund energy-saving projects.

“;Without this source of funding, it is unclear how the Hawaii clean energy initiative will be funded,”; said Robert Harris, Hawaii Sierra Club director.

But Lingle had said the bill would raise the price of gasoline two or three cents a gallon and will tax consumers $31 million a year.

“;Clean energy and food self-sufficiency initiatives are making significant progress without imposing this tax,”; Lingle said in her message to the Legislature.

Hanabusa said she thinks the Legislature would have the votes needed in the House and Senate for an override if Lingle chooses to veto the measure.