Gov. Green finalizes veto decisions and signs 10 bills into law

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Gov. Josh Green. File PC: (6.21.23) Office of the Governor.

Gov. Josh Green, M.D., issued his final veto decisions today after additional analysis and input from stakeholders. Of the 17 bills on his original Intent to Veto List, Green issued seven vetoes. He signed four bills after issuing line-item reductions, and six bills were signed into law.

Green said vetoes and line-item reductions were necessary to balance the state’s financial plan and maintain adequate reserve levels and legal considerations. In doing so, the governor said he reduced appropriations by more than half a billion dollars to preserve the state’s cash reserves, while maintaining a $1.5 billion rainy day fund. Additional vetoes were issued due to legal and governmental operational concerns.

House Bill 2526, which was previously on the governor’s Intent to Veto List, increases the penalty for multiple incidents of unauthorized operation of motor vehicle offenses, was signed on July 5 after community input and advocacy from House Speaker Scott Saiki and the Legislature.

Bills signed into law:

After careful consideration and input, the governor signed the following six bills which previously appeared on the Intent to Veto List: 

HB1640: Relating to collective bargaining: Bill Description: Requires the employer to initiate negotiations on the repricing of classes within a bargaining unit within 30 days of its receipt of the exclusive representative’s written request to negotiate. Establishes that an impasse exists and impasse procedures shall apply if an employer fails to initiate the negotiation within the required time frame and the parties fail to reach an agreement within 150 days of the exclusive representative’s written request to negotiate, or by January 31 of a year in which the collective bargaining agreement is due to expire, whichever is earlier. Sunsets 6/30/2029.


HB1763: Relating to housing: Bill Description: Prohibits the Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) from forgiving any loan made from the Rental Housing Revolving Fund (RHRF) unless HHFDC forecloses on the project. Amends the permitted uses of, and priority for, which monies in the RHRF are to be used. Repeals the authorization to use RHRF to provide grants. Requires the HHFDC to submit a report to the Legislature on plans to revolve funds back into the RHRF. Applies to RHRF applications submitted after 6/30/2024.

HB1936: Relating to harbor safety: Bill Description: Mandates that the Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation require the securing of mooring lines from vessels to commercial docks, wharves, piers, quays and landings to be performed by labor subject to collective bargaining. Sunsets 7/1/2028.

HB2581: Relating to emergency management: Bill Description: Removes the ability of the Governor or a mayor to suspend electronic media transmission during a state of emergency or local state of emergency, respectively.

HB2526: Relating to motor vehicles: Bill Description: Increases the penalty for a third or subsequent offense involving the unauthorized driving or operation of motor vehicles to a Class C felony. Authorizes the court, as part of the person’s sentencing for the third or subsequent offense, to order that the vehicle used by the person in the commission of the offense be subject to forfeiture. Takes effect July 1, 2024.

SB2439: Relating to limitation of actions: Bill Description: Extends the statute of limitations for civil actions brought by persons subjected to sexual offenses as an adult against the person who committed the act. Extends protections for victims of sexual offenses by allowing claims to be brought against legal entities during the two-year window period if there is a finding of gross negligence. Furthermore, this bill authorizes courts to award attorney’s fees to a defendant when an accusation of sexual abuse was made with no basis in fact and with malicious intent.

Line-Item Reductions:


The May 2024 Council on Revenues general fund forecast reduced fiscal year 2024 general fund revenues from 4% to 3.3%, which resulted in a reduction of more than $430 million dollars in projected revenues over the next six years, through 2029. In total, these adjustments amount to more than $500 million dollars and are crucial to balancing the state’s financial plan while preserving strong support for the state priorities of affordability, housing, health care and the environment. 

In order to balance the state’s financial plan and prioritize core issues such as reducing the cost-of-living, increasing affordable housing, promoting health care and disaster recovery, the Governor line-item reduced the following four bills before signing them into law:

HB40: Relating to the general fund: Bill Description: Appropriates funds to be deposited into the emergency and budget reserve fund and pension accumulation fund pursuant to article VII, section 6, of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution. To meet the constitutional requirements laid out in the bill for the disposition of excess revenues, the Governor is appropriating the minimum amount and line-item reduced nearly $435 million in general fund appropriations to balance the state’s financial plan.

HB1800: Relating to the state budget: Bill Description: Adjusts and requests appropriations for fiscal biennium 2023-2025 funding requirements for operations and capital improvement projects of Executive Branch agencies and programs. Included in House Bill 1800 were line-item budget reductions and vetoes totaling $74.2 million for operating and $79.5 million for CIP in general funds, representing less than 1% of the total state budget.

HB2619: Relating to agricultural biosecurity: Bill Description: Requires the Hawai‘i State Department of Agriculture (HDOA) to lead and coordinate the state’s invasive pest control and eradication biosecurity efforts. Establishes certain reporting requirements. Appropriates funds to the HDOA for programs and positions in agricultural biosecurity. Appropriates funds to each county as a grant-in-aid, subject to a county match, for the implementation of feral chicken control programs. This bill is strongly supported by the Green Administration and a line-item reduction to $10 million was issued to continue work on invasive pest control and biosecurity efforts given existing challenges to staff vacancies and other appropriations for biosecurity.


SB3153: Relating to the dam and appurtenance improvement or removal grant program: Bill Description: Establishes the Dam and Appurtenance Improvement or Removal Grant Program Special Fund to receive moneys for the Dam and Appurtenance Improvement or Removal Grant Program. Appropriates funds into and out of the Special Fund for the Dam and Appurtenance Improvement or Removal Grant Program. This bill supports private dam owners with their compliance with state requirements. A robust framework for the management of dam and appurtenance improvements and removals requires careful consideration of long-term cost. A line-item reduction to $5 million was issued to provide critical start up support for this grant program to private dam owners.


Due primarily to legal and operational issues, the following seven bills were vetoed and returned to the legislature:

HB1633Relating to contractors: Bill description: Repeals the leasing restriction on owner-builders who obtain an owner-builder exemption to act as their own contractor and who build or improve residential or farm buildings or structures on property they own or lease and do not offer the buildings or structures for sale.

Veto Rationale: Construction projects must maintain quality and safety standards, which is why licensed contractors are generally required. This bill would lift restrictions on owner-builders and create a broader exemption so that unlicensed contractors could be used for rental projects. There are concerns about how increased unlicensed activity would affect consumers. The bill also removes the requirement that structures be built for personal use, which increases the possibility such structures are built for other purposes such as short-term rentals.

HB2359: Relating to the Hawaiʻi Broadband and Digital Equity Office: Bill Description: Establishes the Digital Equity Grant Program to award grants to applicants to deploy digital equity projects to covered populations in the state.

Veto Rationale: While the State Digital Equity Plan is a roadmap for achieving a digital equity baseline across the islands, this bill would inhibit the development of small-scale, community-based networks in historically disadvantaged communities in Hawai‘i. As a matter of fairness, providers should be permitted to participate in the Digital Equity Grant Program regardless of size.

SB572: Relating to agriculture: Bill description: Authorizes and specifies conditions under which the HDOA may declare a biosecurity emergency, during which the Department and Governor may take certain actions to prevent the establishment or spread of pests and prohibited or restricted organisms. Broadens the objectives and general actions of the Biosecurity Program.

Veto Rationale: Unlike the majority of the United States, the overwhelming majority of Hawaiʻi’s commercial goods move through the state’s harbors. Such goods include consumer goods, motor vehicles, construction materials and fuel. Select sections of this legislation may impede harbor operations and the timely movement of those commercial goods transported through our ports. In effect, the power to requisition ships, as provided in this legislation, will unnecessarily impact the flow of goods that our communities rely on and appears to be an extreme power that could be addressed in a more methodical and limited approach.

SB3068: Making appropriations for wildfire recovery: Bill Description: Appropriates funds to support the state’s continued response to the August 2023 wildfires that affected the counties of Hawaiʻi and Maui. Declares that the appropriation exceeds the state general fund expenditure ceiling for fiscal year 2024-2025.

Veto Rationale: While the bill appropriates necessary funds to assist with Maui wildfire recovery, Gov. Green says the bill inadvertently zeroes out funding for affordable housing. This bill, if enacted, would delay the construction of affordable housing units for Hawaiʻi’s residents, according to the governor. Alongside recovery efforts, Green said housing remains a key priority for his administration. He said the administration will fully support all appropriations in this bill by transferring funds to the Major Disaster Fund. The Budget Bill (HB 1800) has sufficient appropriations to support all the wildfire recovery efforts detailed in this bill and the funds will be redirected to fund Maui’s recovery needs upon signing HB 1800 through the Major Disaster Fund, according to the governor. The result of this veto will mean the restoration of the state housing funds and a full, balanced transfer of funds to the major disaster fund for Maui’s recovery.

SB1511: Relating to the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaiʻi: Bill Description: Clarifies the purpose of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaiʻi (RCUH) and that its undertakings shall be limited to acts that are reasonably necessary to carry out its purpose. Repeals the requirement that the University of Hawaiʻi contract with the RCUH when the University determines that other various agencies cannot more effectively or efficiently accomplish certain research and training activities. Grandfathers existing RCUH contracts and requires new contracts to be subject to new limitations. Limits the scope of the special account the RCUH is authorized to establish. Requires revolving accounts to follow University of Hawaiʻi Administrative Procedure 12.204. Limits internal service orders and revolving accounts of the RCUH that use University intramural funds to certain projects and requires biannual reports to the Legislature.

Veto Rationale: In response to Senate Resolution No. 148, Senate Draft 1, of the 2021 Legislative Session, the University of Hawai‘i convened a task force to address the issues outlined in this legislation. This bill, therefore, is not necessary and will only create confusion about both the role of the RCUH and the ability of the University of Hawaiʻi to foster innovative research opportunities through RCUH, which amounted to more than $300 million in the last year alone, with benefits to the state’s economy and communities.

SB2512: Relating to emergency management powers: Bill Description: Establishes notice and reporting requirements for the expenditure or use of public resources by the Governor, pursuant to the Governor’s emergency powers.

Veto Rationale: In times of emergency, the Governor needs the flexibility and support to rapidly execute key decisions on matters involving the public’s safety. Notice and reporting requirements mandated in this bill impede the Governor’s responsiveness and the Department of Defense’s flexibility during states of emergency and disaster situations, which impact the state of Hawaiʻi’s ability to provide support for impacted residents. Furthermore, the administrative procedures that necessarily follow such notice and reporting requirements will delay the Governor’s decision-making authority and potentially the ability to respond in times of emergency.

SB2557: Relating to legal representation: Bill Description: Allows a court to appoint an attorney for the subject of a petition for assisted community treatment if the interests of justice require one be appointed. Repeals language that entitles the subject of a petition for assisted community treatment to legal representation by a public defender.

Veto Rationale: This legislation is nearly identical to the language in parts of another bill that passed the legislature in this session, House Bill 2159. While the Governor supports the purpose of this bill, it is nearly duplicative and unnecessary.  


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