Legislature 2002

Cayetano casts the first
vetoes of the session

By Pat Omandam

Gov. Ben Cayetano registered his first vetoes of this legislative session: one on a bill relating to naturopathy examinations, and the other on motorcycle-operator education.

The governor said his vetoes were for procedural reasons. House Bill 2467, changing definitions in the naturopathy licensing law, was identical to another bill passed this session, so it was unnecessary to approve it, he said. Naturopathy is a system of treating diseases mainly through natural agencies, such as air, water, sunshine, and it rejects the use of drugs and medicines.

The other vetoed measure was SB748, which granted automatic certification of motorcycle-operation education programs operated by the military. The bill was introduced in the 2001 session, and the Senate sent it to the House. The House passed the bill this year, but the Senate did not vote on it this session as the originating body, thereby violating the state Constitution and invalidating the measure, the governor said.

He added that the bill was inconsistent with plans by the state Department of Education.

"The DOT recently adopted administrative rules that establish a fair, equitable and consistent procedure for program certification," Cayetano said. "This bill would undermine the intent of these rules by treating the military differently."

In other news this week at the state Capitol:

>> State budget: House and Senate budget conferees have less than a week to put together a balanced budget if they want the session to end May 2. The House continues to stick by its plan to use the $213 million Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund while the Senate scours for other ways to remedy the $300 million-plus revenue shortfall.

Gambling remains a discussed but fading option because Speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo) insists gambling will not pass the House.

Meanwhile, Cayetano administration officials warned legislators this week their financial plans could put the state in red ink by 2004. They complained that the Legislature is reducing state revenue while increasing funding for programs.

Proposed budget cuts to the state Department of Education have officials saying this week they may have to shut down, among other things, the popular A+ after-school program and the English as a second language program.

>> Speed limit: Gov. Ben Cayetano raised the speed limits on portions of the H-3 and H-1 freeways to 60 mph from 55 mph after state Department of Transportation studies showed greater base speeds there.

The change, which takes effect in mid-May, comes after the governor approved a bill earlier this month that shuts down the controversial traffic camera project. During the debate, many people said the Transportation Department should set speed limits that allow traffic to flow more freely to avoid gridlock and accidents.

>> Death with dignity: A physician-assisted suicide bill remains flatlined, despite Cayetano's urging of Senate Health Chairman David Matsuura (D, South Hilo) to allow a Senate vote on the bill.

The governor attempted to revive the death-with-dignity bill after a federal judge upheld Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft challenged the Oregon law last year by banning lethal prescriptions. The Oregon law is unique in the nation and is the model for Hawaii's bill, which was approved by the state House but remains bottled up in Matsuura's committee.

>> County school boards: The state Senate killed a proposed constitutional amendment on this November's ballot. If approved, it would have abolished the state Board of Education and set up seven county local school districts.

Senate Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto (D, Moanalua) deferred the bill in conference committee because it did not have enough votes in the Senate. But House Education Chairman Ken Ito (D, Kaneohe) and House Republicans criticized the move as a loss for education reform.

>> Felix oversight: Hawaii has made enough progress in improving services for special-needs students that federal oversight of the program can be reduced, a court-appointed monitor recommended this week.

Monitor Ivor Groves said in a 41-page report compliance with the federal Felix consent decree has made strides, but the state will need two more years of court supervision to address remaining challenges and to prove it can maintain its progress. U.S. District Judge David Ezra has set a June 10 hearing.

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