Saturday, June 9, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

Legislators stick
to issues and end
special session

Republicans fail in
attempts to override the
governor's vetoes

By Pat Omandam
and Richard Borreca

The state Legislature unceremoniously ended its five-day special session as quietly as it began last Monday.

It stuck to issues at hand and did not acquiesce to Republican calls to pass other bills or to override the governor's veto.

Legislature "We're going home for sure," said House Speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo) just before the start of yesterday's final session.

Specifically, the Legislature this week reintroduced and passed identical versions of budgets of the state Judiciary and Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and updated a bill relating to the authorization of state bonds.

The legality of these measures was called into question last month by Gov. Ben Cayetano after the House and Senate forwarded to him separate versions of these measures in the last days of the regular session.

The procedural error, which the state feared could be challenged in court, forced Cayetano to veto these bills and bring lawmakers back to work to correct them.

The special session also gave senators an opportunity to confirm the recent gubernatorial appointments of Wayne Kimura as state comptroller and former Land Board Chairman Timothy Johns as a member of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

While the Democratic leadership kept its membership in blinders this week, House and Senate Republicans trotted out motions to override Cayetano's veto on a bill that requires the state to certify motorcycle operator education programs in Hawaii run by the armed services.

Cayetano, who returns to work Tuesday after a business trip to Japan, had called the bill unnecessary, and he said it may threaten oversight of motorcycle education training by the state Department of Transportation.

Yesterday, both chambers saw unsuccessful motions to override the veto. In the House, Rep. Chris Halford (R, Makena-Kihei) urged Democrats to use the veto power as another tool of democracy.

"As legislators, it is our job -- it's the job of each of us -- to stand up for our branch of government," Halford said.

Republican Sen. Fred Hemmings (Kailua) charged that the Democrats were afraid to buck the governor. Republicans complained the Senate has not been able to mount a veto override since 1957.

"This body rolls over and plays dead to the unilateral actions of the governor," Hemmings said.

But Sens. Jonathan Chun (D, Kauai) and Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Alewa Heights) argued the Senate has been willing to act but refused to override a vetoed bill without assurances that the House would also act.

The veto override failed along party lines. In the House the motion died by a 15-to-24 vote, with 12 members excused. It fell in the Senate by a 3-to-15 vote. A two-thirds majority is needed in both houses to override a vetoed bill.

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