Wednesday, June 9, 1999

State of Hawaii

Governor on pace
to reject more bills
in ’99 than last year

By Mike Yuen


Gov. Ben Cayetano says this year he has been vetoing "more bills of substance." So far, with the veto deadline 15 days away, he's rejected 21 measures and at least three more vetoes are forthcoming.

Last year, Cayetano rejected 22 bills.

In 1995, Cayetano's first year as governor, he vetoed 85 measures. But that number is misleading, he said, because more than 40 were duplicate bills that the Legislature ended up approving.

This year's vetoes are partly due to philosophical differences with his fellow Democrats who control the Legislature, he said yesterday.

Also, "horse trading" between the House and Senate led to the passage of several measures of questionable value, Cayetano said. He did not identify them.

But Cayetano said he will not be vetoing a flawed bill intended to give the hotel industry tax breaks for renovations and new projects. Last month, when the legislative session ended, lawmakers urged Cayetano to issue "a friendly veto," so that they could come back in special session to insert missing language that details specifically what the tax incentive for the hotel industry would be.

Summer session?

House Vice Speaker Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa) said House leaders have renewed the call for a special session, since officials of the Hilton Hawaiian Village have said they could use a tax break for a project with which they're ready to proceed.

But the proposal for a special session has not been discussed with the House majority caucus and "nothing has been confirmed with the Senate," Oshiro said.

If both chambers can agree to a special session, it would run for about five days and be held next month.

Cayetano said he "couldn't bring myself to sign" the flawed measure but added he was not going to veto it.

That means it will become law without his signature. If there is a special session, lawmakers can fix the hotel tax-break bill.

They also can correct their potentially costly oversight and pass a bill that could save the state $200,000 to $300,000 in interest payments to the federal government, Cayetano said.

Lost in shuffle

Cayetano had asked lawmakers to pay the U.S. government $2.1 million -- what was owed for refunds from the Public Employees Health Fund -- to avoid 14 percent interest payments. The Senate passed the administration bill but for some reason deleted the emergency appropriation, leaving the amount blank. The House amended the measure by reinserting the $2.1 million. The Senate disagreed with the House's action, forcing the measure into conference negotiations, where the bill got lost.

Cayetano said the House may have bills that are good for the public, but those measures can't get passed unless the House agrees to horse trade with the Senate for other bills.

"When I was in office, there wasn't very much of that," said Cayetano, who served in the House and then the Senate. "We would rather let the bill die than horse trade for a bill that was maybe not very good for the public. This Legislature seems to be more inclined to do a lot of horse trading."

The House's Oshiro declined to comment on Cayetano's remarks.

Cayetano also said he will veto three crime bills, which he did not want to identify until he sent down his veto messages. Citing philosophical differences, Cayetano said, "I don't understand how a Democratic-controlled Legislature would pass these kinds of bills, but it did."

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