Four Controversial Bills Get Veto from Honolulu Mayor
Mayor Peter Carlisle yesterday vetoed four controversial bills that had already won approval from the Honolulu City Council.
The veto of Bill 33 and Bill 34 (2011) relating to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) operating and capital budgets for fiscal year 2011-12 could end up in court with the council and mayor on opposite sides. Each body wants control over HART’s budget.
The mayor said: “Less than a year ago the electorate of Honolulu approved a charter amendment establishing a semi-autonomous entity with a policy-making board of professionals that would remove the vagaries of the election cycle, individual political ambition and favoritism from the rapid transit project. The city charter authorizes the HART board to control the transit funds and, after public hearings, to adopt its own operating and capital budgets. Bills 33 and 34, by which the City Council assumes control over the transit funds and the budgets therein, attempt to amend the city charter by ordinance, which is illegal.”
Bill 35 (2011), which authorizes reimbursements for pre-2007 expenditures from the transit fund to the general fund and the highway fund, is “contrary to state law according to the state attorney general,” Carlisle said in his veto message.
Bill 36 (2011), also vetoed, was a contentious issue at the council. The bill would allow for a discounted disposal fee for residue from commercial recycling operations.
“The discount was created years ago when recycling markets were weak and discounts were considered necessary to support local recyclers,” said Carlisle. “The situation has changed significantly since then, and most local recyclers and members of the public testified to the City Council in favor of eliminating the discount altogether. Eliminating the discount will return approximately $2 million in annual revenue to the City.”
In response to the mayor’s veto of Bill 36, Jennifer Hudson, governmental and public affairs manager for Schnitzer Steel Industries’ Metals Recycling Business, which benefited from city subsidies up until this year, said: “We’re disappointed by the Mayor’s decision to eliminate the city’s recycling incentive program, and we hope the City Council will consider overriding the veto to maintain the current level of recycling in Hawaii. Bill 36 would have allowed Schnitzer Steel and other recyclers enough time to adjust our operations and ease the transition for our suppliers and the public. Instead, the Mayor’s veto will lead to a sudden and complete halt to the tipping fee discount for recycling businesses.”
Law Should Speed Up Broadband Installation, Governor Said
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed House Bill 1342 into law yesterday as Act 151 to expedite the permitting process for broadband infrastructure. The legislation, which goes into effect July 1 and sunsets in 5 years, exempts broadband providers from state and county permitting requirements for installation, construction and development of broadband infrastructure.
“Speeding up the deployment of high-speed broadband throughout the state will enable new opportunities for telehealth, and give Hawaii’s digital businesses an edge in competing for new work,” said Sen. Carol Fukunaga, D-Makiki, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Technology.
Sen. David Ige, D-Pearl City, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said, “High-speed Internet access will also help us improve the quality and reach of government services — and insure that all residents throughout the state have equal access to those services.”
Hawaii Schools Make Progress, Governor Said
Representatives from the State Department of Education, the Board of Education, the Legislature, the Executive Office, the private sector and the federal government have met for two days in Hawaii about improving Hawaii’s public education system.
“At long last, all the institutions of the State of Hawai’i are working together with common goals that will advance student learning and provide our children the opportunities they deserve,” Governor Neil Abercrombie said. “Out of the spotlight, every day, these public servants are working behind-the-scenes and today I believe we’ve proven to the representatives of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that we are actively committed to transforming our educational system.”
U.S. DOE representatives were in Hawaii to help the DOE implement President Obama’s “Race to the Top” education reform programs. Hawaii was selected in August 2009 as one of 11 states to receive a Race to the Top grant – Hawaii will receive $75 million for this effort.
According to a statement from the governor’s office, Hawaii’s education goals include:
“· Furnishing teachers with easily-accessible information about their students’ progress.
“· Providing principals with online access to information about their students for school planning, and to identify students in need of additional supports, such as those who are absent too often.
· Supplying principals with data on teachers to ensure qualified teachers are assigned to appropriate subject areas, and to identify recruiting and training needs.”
See more at http://hawaiidoereform.org