By Wendy Osher
Governor Neil Abercrombie yesterday notified the State Legislature of his intent to veto 23 measures. Among them is a bill that seeks the establishment of an ‘aha kiole advisory council to advise the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Legislature on issues relating to land and natural resource management.
Under the proposed measure, the council would base its recommendations on the ‘aha moku system of indigenous resource management practices. The system acknowledges the natural contours of land, the specific resources located within those areas, and the methodology necessary to sustain resources and the community.
Gov. Abercrombie cited issues with oversight and use of taxpayer funds for an entity that is self-selected, not confirmed, has no terms of service, and cannot be removed for cause.
In releasing a list yesterday of 23 bills he is considering for veto, the Governor said, “Some of these measures will not work as they are written, despite their good intentions. Many others create additional work for our departments without any funding sources to carry them through. In these austere times, state agencies simply do not have the capacity to implement unfunded mandates that are not high priorities of our Administration,” said Gov. Abercrombie.
He has until July 12, 2011 to review legislative bills for passage or veto.
The complete list of measures on the notice of “intent to veto” are:
HB56: Allowing the family court to award reasonable visitation rights to grandparents if the denial of visitation would cause significant harm to the child. Gov. Abercrombie said the bill would make it more difficult for grandparents to visit their grandchildren.
HB318: Establishing an inter-agency task force on vog to discuss the impact of vog on the people of Hawai’i and find ways to address these issues. The Governor called the measure “redundant” saying a statewide task force is already in place to address the effects and impact of sulfur dioxide hazards in various counties and communities. He said the measure places a mandate onto the counties and does not appropriate funds for the task force.
HB545: Requiring electronic voter registration on the Office of Elections website by January 1, 2014. The Governor objects because the estimated cost is $2.5 million, but he said no appropriation is provided.
HB667: Creating a food safety and security program within the Department of Agriculture. Although the Governor said food safety is important, he expressed concern for lack of funding and authority to establish administrative rules.
HB680: Repealing the requirement that the Hawaii Community Development Authority consider recommendations by the Kakaako Makai Community Planning Advisory Council in developing, accepting, and implementing any plans for the Kakaako makai area.
HB1134: Repealing Part V of the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act and Act 99, Session Laws of Hawaii 1994, relating to the future termination of the prepaid health care law. The Governor said further investigation is needed on whether approval of the bill would have unintended consequences to Hawaii’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) waiver.
HB1155: Specifying class A and B felonies that require mandatory minimum prison terms under the repeat offender statute. It also reinstates, adds, and deletes certain class C felonies that require the mandatory minimum prison terms under the repeat offender statute. The Governor said the bill would significantly change the current policy on how the criminal justice system addresses the problem of repeat offenders that was originally enacted since 1976. According to the Governor, the bill would make the repeat offender law inapplicable to all felony drug offenses, ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition by persons convicted of certain crimes, and insurance fraud felony convictions.
HB1164: Authorizing the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to consider the sale or exchange of Sand Island parcels to leaseholders. According to the Governor, the DLNR has repeatedly stated that the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) is not interested in selling or exchanging the lands under the Sand Island master lease into a hundred small lot transfers with a hundred separate land transactions, that could result in the Department owning several non-contiguous lots.
SB1230: Exempting nonresidential structures used for agricultural or aquaculture operations from county building permit requirements. The Governor says that while the bill address a problem that needs to be resolved, he said there are ambiguities in the bill on the implementation process. The Governor plans to sign another bill that establishes a task force to look at impediments for the permitting processes.
HB1405: Requiring the Office of Planning to establish a statewide system of greenways and trails. In developing this system, the Office is required to meet with various state departments and the counties and review systems of greenways and trails. The Office currently has a staff of six people that focus almost exclusively on meeting federal mandates. The governor said effective implementation of the measure requires resources and funding that the Office does not currently have.
HB1505: Establishing the State Facility Renovation Partnership Program, which would allow the sale of certain state facilities to private investors who would improve the facility and lease it back to the state. The Governor is opposed to the sale of state facilities to private entities. He said there are also potential debt service issues with the sale of public buildings previously financed with general obligation bonds that may currently be outstanding.
HB1520: Directing the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to investigate an On-Bill Financing Program for residential electric utility customers to finance purchases of energy efficient or renewable energy devices and systems through their regular electric utility bills.
HB1654: Terminating a conditional use permit issued by a county agency to facilities intended for group living facilities or group homes that do not use the permits or cease operations for one year. The Governor said there is a technical flaw in the bill.
SB40: Establishing a tracking system for the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine. In conference committee, the Legislature added “ephedrine” to also be tracked and reported. According to the Governor, there is a technical flaw in the bill because the title of the bill relates to “pseudoephedrine.”
SB44: Requiring the Department of Public Safety to establish performance indicators for inmate reentry system; and requiring reports, using key performance indicators, to be provided to the legislature. The Governor said the bill creates the corrections and program report as a consolidated report of other annual reports; not allowing enough time or resources for PSD to accomplish the intended outcomes of the bill.
SB49: Requiring the Director of Public Safety to report to the Governor, and the Governor to report to the legislature any death of an inmate or correctional facility employee within 48 hours. According to the Govenror, DPS currently does this, and there is another statute that covers the procedure.
SB217: Eliminating the statute of limitations for civil actions brought by victims of sexual offenses as a minor against the person who committed the act(s) and authorizes suits against a legal entity in certain circumstances. The Governor said that the bill appears to allow an employer, including the state, to be sued for the criminal acts of its employees. He said it is contrary to well-established tort and agency law, and is in direct contravention of the State Tort Liability Act (STLA), Chapter 662 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. He said elimination of a statute of limitations for a civil claim also raises grave constitutional and fairness concerns.
SB590: Extending the sunset date of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act Commission by six months. The Governor already signed House Bill 383 into law as Act 26, which he said does the same thing.
SB1417: Establishing the minimum number of members necessary to constitute a quorum for the State Rehabilitation Council to ten; and establishes the number of votes necessary to validate any action of the Council to at least a majority of quorum. The Governor believes that rather than reduce quorum, people should serve on the Council who will participate and attend meetings. Reducing the number of votes necessary to validate any action of the council to 6 out of a 21 member council, he said, is not a fair representation of the Council.
SB1493: Requiring all new and replacement lights to be fully shielded. While a noteworthy goal given the effects of night lighting on our native wildlife, astronomy and night viewing activities, the Governor said, funding implications of the mandate are potentially enormous given federal lighting standards for highways.
SB1511: Increasing the maximum lease terms for aquaculture operations from 35 to 65 years and defines “aquaculture” under Section 171-59(b), Hawaii Revised Statutes. The Governor believes oceans are always changing and providing 65-year leases is not prudent. In addition, the definition of aquaculture, he said, is too broad.
SB1559: Establishing incentives for important agricultural lands. The Governor said the measure does not provide penalties or resolution for failure to comply, does not identify the agency responsible for monitoring compliance and does not address how the monitoring agency will be able to distinguish Important Agricultural Lands (IAL) and non-IAL source products. In addition, he said, incentives should be targeted toward certain agricultural goals and not the general category of important agricultural lands.
*** Supporting information courtesy Office of the Governor, State of Hawai’i.