Monday, June 4, 2001

Legislature 2001

Lawmakers open
special session to
correct mistakes

Clerical errors sent bills to the
governor before both houses of
the Legislature had OK'd them

By Pat Omandam

Hana hou.

A month after it passed landmark reforms affecting the state Public Employees Health Fund and privatization of government services, the 2001 state Legislature reconvenes today for a five-day special session to correct procedurally flawed legislation.

Called back to work by Gov. Ben Cayetano, lawmakers must reintroduce new appropriations budget bills for the state Judiciary and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, as well as update a related bond authorization bill.

A clerical error sent these bills to the governor before both houses of the state Legislature had approved them. "The error has caused uncertainty as to the validity of the passage of the bills," the governor said.

The House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees will hear all three bills at separate hearings this afternoon.

State senators are also using the time to act on other matters. Senate leaders have scheduled confirmation hearings tomorrow for gubernatorial appointees Wayne H. Kimura as state comptroller and for Timothy E. Johns as a member of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Senate Transportation and Government Operations Chairman Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu) said Kimura's confirmation is being heard now because he was appointed after the regular session ended.

Lorraine Inouye (D, North Hilo-Kohala), head of the Senate Water, Land, Energy and Environment panel, said Johns' nomination was made at the end of May.

Inouye said she does not see any problem with the past Land Board chairman now serving as a board member.

"The only questionable thing is because he's working for the Damon Estate," Inouye said.

"I don't think it's a real big problem because he can always recuse himself on making decisions if the Damon Estate would come before the board."

Both senators said they do not believe the Senate will stray into discussion of other legislation. But while Senate Democrats do not want to make waves during this session, the Republican minority is thinking about it.

Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai) said Republicans may raise some additional issues even though Democrats intend to stick to the budget bills.

Specifically, Slom wants to review stalled appropriation bills that fund textbooks and computers in schools, as well as revisit other education bills.

"We figure if we all have to go to the trouble of being there, and the taxpayers have to foot the bill, and the mistake was made, let's review some of the other things that may have been mistakes in the last days of the legislative session," Slom said.

In the House, Speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo) said the special session will only handle those three budget bills. House Minority Leader Galen Fox (R, Waikiki) said there was no discussion in caucus about recalling bills stuck in committee.

The House GOP actively recalled bills, proposed floor amendments and attempted to override vetoed bills during the regular session.

"I think there will probably be some comment on the budget bills, but that's kind of normal," Fox said.

In recent years, special sessions of the Legislature were held in 2000, 1995, 1993 and 1986.

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