Hawaii Capitol News – May 26, 2010

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    By Sam Slom, State Senate

    Many Bills Still Await Governor’s Decision


    I voted against all the tax and fee increase bills and many of the ones that either banned or mandated something.

    You can still comment on bills by calling the Governor’s office at 586-0034 or going to the website hawaii.gov/gov

    Dozens of bills still await an executive decision from Governor Linda Lingle as the June 21 deadline to notify the legislature of the intent to veto (35th day after the legislature adjourned) approaches. The Governor is required to send a list of bills she intends to veto on that date with a final decision on all bills required by July 6 (45th day after adjournment).

    The Governor can choose to sign a bill into law, let the bill become law without her signature or veto it. The legislature can go into special session on the 45th day to override any vetoes. 249 bills were passed by the legislature this session. Among the bills still awaiting a final decision are the following:

    • House Bills: HB 444 civil unions;
    • HB 1665 sale of Hawaiian fishponds;
    • HB 1808 beach access & erosion;
    • HB 1907 more tax increases for the wealthy;
    • HB 1948 tax refunds;
    • HB 1987 forfeiture & illegal fireworks;
    • HB 2003 campaign financing;
    • HB 2200 State Budget;
    • HB 2239 bottle tax mandate for dietary supplements;
    • HB 2583 shark feeding penalties / impounded vessels; and
    • HB 2644 tax on solid waste sent out of state.

    Senate Bills:

    • SB466 restricts time on when leaf blowers can be used;
    • SB 1059 task force for illegal fireworks;
    • SB 2019 removes 20 year limit on thrill-craft operator permits;
    • SB 2124 raids Hurricane Insurance fund to pay for eliminating school teacher furloughs;
    • SB 2169 ban on shark finning;
    • SB 2231 prohibits prevention of electric vehicle charging stations at multi family residences;
    • SB 2401 suspends high tech tax credits;
    • SB 2441 Felony penalty for taking a Hawaiian Monk Seal;
    • SB 2461 increases vehicle rental tax from $1 a day to $4.50 a day;
    • SB 2599 mandates health insurance coverage for colorectal cancer screening;
    • and SB 2897 ignition interlocks.

    Legislature Overrides 11 Vetoes on Last Day

    The State Legislature dominated by the Democratic Party in both the House (45Ñ6) and Senate (23Ñ2) went ahead and overrode 11 bills vetoed by Republican Governor Linda Lingle that were passed before the session adjourned.

    I voted against 10 of the veto overrides since I had initially voted “no” except for HB 2086. Veto override bills include:

    • HB 2421 $1.05 per barrel oil tax increase.
    • HB 2866 income tax rates on non-resident/non-citizens
    • SB 2159 Increase traffic abstract fee from $7 to $20.
    • SB 2394 Deferred compensation plan; board of trustees
    • SB 2501 Peer review for public accountancy
    • SB 2650 Prohibits DHS computerization program
    • SB 2840 Construction jobs 80% local employees
    • HB 1642 Health & Human Services Purchases; proposals
    • HB 1868 Civil Service; leave of absenceÑappointees
    • HB 2085 QUEST Contracting
    • HB 2086 Clinical laboratory test results; privacy

    The Governor is reviewing over 200 bills that were passed by April 29. She will have until June 21 to state her intention to veto and July 6 to actually veto more bills. The Legislature will likely be back for another veto override special session then. Since Governor Lingle took office in 2003, the Legislature has overridden 100 of her vetoes. Prior to that only 1 bill was overridden between 1962 and 2002.

    Tax Refunds Coming Soon!

    Hawaii taxpayers can expect state income tax refunds to be issued sooner rather than later as previously announced, according to a release from Governor Linda Lingle. The State Tax Dept. will first begin issuing refunds to those taxpayers who filed their income tax returns during the months of January and February (first in first out basis).

    The earlier than expected refunds come at a time when the state says that tax collections show promising signs of growth. Despite that GE tax collections remain low which may negatively affect the City’s rail proposal.

    Djou Goes to Washington

    Congratulations to former Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou who won the special election for the First District Congressional seat this past weekend. Djou is filling a vacancy created after U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie stepped down to run for Governor. Djou, a Hawaii Kai resident represented the district on the City Council for nearly 8 years. I wish him success as our newest congressman.

    Honolulu City Council Looks for Djou Replacement

    The Honolulu City Council is appointing a successor to Councilmember Charles Djou who resigned his seat this week after winning the special Congressional election.

    Anyone who is a resident of Council District 4 is eligible to apply. Interested persons should send their name along with a resume to the Council Chair’s office no later than the end of the day on June 1, 2010. By mail send to: Council Offices at Honolulu Hale, 530 S. King St., Room 202, Honolulu, HI 96813 or email to tapo@honolulu.gov Applicants may also hand deliver their resume to Room 202. The City Council has 30 days to appoint a successor to the seat.

    News in Brief

    Hawaii’Primary Election Date Moved Up in 2012: The 2012 primary election will be held in August. HB 2937 was signed into law by Governor Lingle as Act 129 last week. The new law will allow the State to move the primary election date from the third Saturday in September to the first Saturday in August.

    Firearms Owners Safe in a Crisis: The Government will not be able to seize legally owned firearms in an emergency situation (SB 358) signed into law by the Governor as Act 96. Also signed into law by the Governor is Act 97 which allows homeowner occupants the right to defend themselves using deadly force if confronted by a person(s) intending to do the occupant bodily harm.

    Ready for a disaster? This week is Hurricane Preparedness Week in Hawaii. The Governor signed a proclamation urging that Hawaii citizens make preparations to protect themselves during the possibility of a major hurricane. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

    Civil Unions Being Debated in Governor’s Office: Supporters and opponents of HB 444 waited the entire day in the House chamber for the bill to come up and be voted upon during the last minutes of the 2010 session. HB 444 which would allow civil unions to be granted the same rights as marriage is now in the hands of the Governor. She has until July 6 to decide if the bill is signed into law, becomes law without her signature or if it is vetoed. I voted against this bill when it came up for third reading in the Senate this past January. The Senate passed the bill 18 to 7, and in the House 31 to 20.

    Great Start for New Farmers Market in Hawaii Kai: Congratulations to Annie and Pamela and their new weekly East Honolulu Farmers Market which debuted at Kaiser High School Saturday, May 22. I attended the opening last Saturday and was pleased that some many farmers and local food and product producers participated-there were more than 60 tents-and many local residents. The two ladies from the Haleiwa Farmers Market are to be congratulated for their vision and organization which made this a great family event. They are welcome citizens to our community and I wish them continued success for all of us.

    Driving New Energy Alternatives at the Capitol: South Korea’s CT & T signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the State of Hawaii to bring a regional assembly plant into the state to start the manufacturing of electric vehicles in Hawaii. The small, golf cart like vehicles will be marketed to government, industry, business and consumers. The vehicles are meant for urban commuter use and will be ideal for short shopping trips and running errands around town. The entry of CT & T into the Hawaii market is one of several announced in recent months where alternative energy vehicles will be sold here. Nissan will market their electric car the “Leaf” starting next year and GM and the Gas Company announced a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for Hawaii. CT & T’s vehicles were at the State Capitol on May 6 for the Governor’s press conference.

    Sam Slom, president of Smart Business Hawaii, serves on the Senate Judiciary and Government Relations (JGO) Labor (LBR), Economic Development & Technology (EDT), Higher Education (HRE) Tourism (TSM), and Transportation, International Affairs & Intergov. Affairs (TIA) committees. Reach him at sbh@lava.net