Governor Sends Notice of Intent to Veto 19 Bills

July 1, 2012, 4:14 AM HST · Updated July 1, 4:25 AM
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Governor Neil Abercrombie, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Governor Neil Abercrombie notified the State Legislature this week of his intent to veto 19 bills.

The measures being considered for veto include House bill 1984, which would require all letterheads, documents, symbols and emblems of the state to include accurate and appropriate Hawaiian names and language. The governor said that while the aspiration of the measure is laudable, efforts are necessary to identify how best to make the transition.

Also on the veto radar is a senate bill that seeks to authorize agricultural tourism activities, including overnight accommodations of 21 days or less within an agricultural district.

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The governor said that Senate Bill 2341 would allow vacation rentals on agricultural land without sufficient definition of what constitutes minimal agricultural activity required for true agricultural tourism.

To date, the governor has signed more than 150 measures into law. The deadline to veto bills, sign them into law, or let them become law without his signature, is July 10.

“It is clear that the 2012 Legislative Session was productive and filled with meaningful legislation,” said Governor Abercrombie in a statement. “Some of these measures, however, may be difficult to implement as they are currently written, and there are other measures that must be given further consideration,” he said.

The following measures are on the governor’s notice of “intent to veto” list:

  • House Bill 46: prohibits smoking in and around housing projects under the jurisdiction of the Hawai’i Public Housing Authority, with an exception for designated smoking areas.  HB46 also allows for eviction upon a third violation of the smoking prohibition. Gov. Abercrombie said the bill would be difficult to implement because of the effective date and inflexible distance limitations.
  • House Bill 246: appropriates funds to the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney of the City and County of Honolulu. The governor notes that recently signed Justice Reinvestment Initiative measures provide for statewide appropriations and resources for the Prosecuting Attorney.
  • House Bill 280: would remove the requirement that all Hawai’i-grown green coffee beans shall be inspected and certified by the Department of Agriculture. The implications of this measure, the governor states, are “problematic.” Further discussion, he said, is needed to ensure that the Hawai’i brand will not be undermined.
  • House Bill 283: seeks the appropriation of $196,000 from the agricultural loan revolving fund to a program to control and eradicate the coffee berry borer. The governor stated that rather than using funds meant to help farmers who have trouble obtaining financing, the Department of Agriculture plans to use $200,000 of barrel tax funds in its commitment to eradicate the coffee berry borer.
  • House Bill 1617: would authorize the Board of Land and Natural Resources to extend commercial, hotel, resort and industrial leases for up to another 55 years when the lessee makes qualifying substantial improvements to the leased land. The governor states that the bill would enable lessees to have exclusive control of a public property for up to 120 years. The impact, the governor said,  needs to be closely examined and weighed against putting the public land out to bid to give others an opportunity to lease the land.
  • House Bill 1671: is designed to amend the procurement process by imposing time limits on rendering administrative and judicial review decisions, limiting protests to those that are a minimum percentage of the contract value, and requiring posting of a protest bond. Time and resource considerations make this measure extremely difficult to implement, the governor stated. In addition, the governor notes that there is another measure passed this session making procurement reform.
  • House Bill 1879: would extend an exemption for pest control operators’ activities from notification and marking requirements of the One Call Center Program for another three years. The governor said a three-year exemption will obviate any findings that the Public Utilities Commission could make as they are currently moving to finish a risk level analysis for pest control operators.
  • House Bill 1984: requires that all letterheads, documents, symbols and emblems of the State and other political subdivisions include accurate and appropriate Hawaiian names and language. The governor said the bill has unintended consequences and is not implementable by the deadline as other statutory changes are necessary. While the aspiration is laudable, the governor said, an earnest effort is necessary to identify how best to make this transition.
  • House Bill 2275: establishes a hospital sustainability fee and the hospital sustainability program special fund to receive moneys from the hospital sustainability fee. The governor cited concerns about the effect and equitableness of the measure.
  • House Bill 2436: establishes the chief information officer or that officer’s designee as the chair of the Information Privacy and Security Council. The governor states that this measure is duplicative of Act 71.
  • Senate Bill 2158: requires law enforcement agencies to accept cash bail, certified copies of pre-filed bail bonds, and original bail bonds when the court is closed, including nights, weekends and holidays. Practical realities render this bill impossible to implement as it is presently drafted.
  • Senate Bill 2214: allows an arbitration panel, rather than the State Legislature, to have the final decision on contributions to the Hawai’i employer-union health benefits trust fund by the State and counties for a health benefits plan and group life insurance benefits for active public employees. As different arbitration panels produce their findings for different bargaining units, the governor states that the distribution of EUTF ratios may be unequal, which has serious consequences for financial planning and implementation. Moreover, he said, the State is committed to dealing with its unfunded liabilities.
  • Senate Bill 2341: authorizes, within an agricultural district, agricultural tourism activities, including overnight accommodations of 21 days or less. The governor said this bill would allow vacation rentals on agricultural land without sufficient definition of what constitutes minimal agricultural activity required for true agricultural tourism.
  • Senate Bill 2424: adds various requirements for the registration and regulation of professional employer organizations (PEOs) and authorizes penalties for noncompliance. The governor called this bill “overly broad,” saying it will impose restrictions too difficult for all PEOs to comply with. In addition, the measure does not address licensing procedures.
  • Senate Bill 2536: establishes a temporary clean and sober home and halfway house task force that shall, among other things, establish a pilot clean and sober home and halfway house. The governor said there is a title problem with this bill which may violate the Hawai’i Constitution. This bill also requires the task force to establish clean and sober living facilities, which task forces do not have the ability to do. The intent of this measure, the governor said, can be accomplished through our Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Moreover, he stated, the Department of Health has the ability to establish a task force.
  • Senate Bill 2640: allows counties to permit the use of an otherwise authorized individual wastewater treatment system, except cesspools in a special management area, under certain circumstances. This measure, the governor says, presents public health concerns and does not move toward resolution of this issue.
  • Senate Bill 2742: amends the composition of the Hawai’i Community Development Authority (HCDA) board to include nine voting members for each established district. The governor expressed concerns about the restructuring of HCDA into three boards and the practical implications of such a division.
  • Senate Bill 2946: extends until June 30, 2016, the increase in the rental motor vehicle surcharge tax to $7.50 per day. This measure does not achieve its original intent, the governor said, and will end up having a cost for residents who rent cars.
  • Senate Bill 3017: clarifies that the daily $10 tax on transient accommodations furnished on a complimentary or gratuitous basis includes transient accommodations furnished as part of a travel package, but does not include transient accommodations furnished as part of a tourism industry promotional or marketing activity. The governor states that this bill is duplicative of current practice in guidance issued by the Department of Taxation, TIR 2011-5. Also, he states, enacting this bill may have adverse consequences to the other exemptions listed in the TIR if challenged in court.
***Supporting information courtesy, office of the Governor, State of Hawai’i.

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