After reviewing more than 290 bills passed by the 2013 Hawaii State Legislature, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today notified legislators of his decision to limit his vetoes to three.
The Governor this year signed a total of 269 bills into law, and Lt. Gov. Shan S. Tsutsui this afternoon will sign seven as Acting Governor. Twelve other measures will become law without signature.
"I wish to congratulate legislators for working together in a productive session that resulted in several significant first steps for our state," Gov. Abercrombie said. "For the first time, the State of Hawaii will be codifying into law a commitment to preparing young children for success in school and life by ensuring that all island keiki have access to preschool (Act 169). We are also knocking down barriers to renewable energy, allowing greater segments of our community to become active participants in our shared energy future (Act 211). And, we have set our state on a responsible fiscal course, fulfilling the promise to pay back funds borrowed from our fiscal reserves (Acts 266 and 267) and creating a new statutory requirement to address long-term unfunded liabilities (Act 268).
"We will look back at 2013 as the year that launched truly transformative measures that will have lasting positive impacts on the future of our state."
On June 24, Gov. Abercrombie notified the Legislature of his intent to veto nine measures. After hearing from various legislators and members of the community, the Governor vetoed the following three bills:
HB654 (Related to Nursing) -- The Governor vetoed this bill because it requires the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Professional and Vocational Licensing Division to collaborate with the Hawaii Center for Nursing, which the division is already doing, and to collect data by requesting nurses to complete a center survey, which the division currently does by providing electronic links at both the beginning and end of its licensing renewal process. Thus, this bill's objectives can be achieved by agreement and it is unnecessary to include these provisions in state statutes. It is also unnecessary to tie the renewal of nursing licenses to the completion of a survey.
HB763 (Relating to the State Building Code) -- The Governor objected to this bill because it seeks funding from the Hurricane Relief Fund. The fund is essential to ensure the protection and safety of the people of Hawaii and, toward that end, the fund must be rebuilt and not depleted. Using the fund for the activities of the Hawaii State Building Code Council, however arguably relevant, establishes a negative precedent and may invite others to deplete the fund for uses that are remote from the primary purpose of the fund.
HB988 (Relating to Native Wildlife) -- Among the Governor's objections to this bill are that its scope is too narrow and only allows the Environmental Response Revolving Fund to support the operations for a recovery and rehabilitation facility of native wildlife affected by oil related spills. If the goal of this bill is to provide funding for a specific facility, the grant appropriation process as provided under chapter 42F, Hawaii Revised Statutes, would be a more appropriate funding source. Additionally, section 128D-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, currently allows the Fund to be used "[f]or oil spill planning, prevention, preparedness, education, research, training, removal, and remediation." This would allow for the rehabilitation of wildlife harmed by an oil spill, although the responsible parties typically pay for such response.
An additional objectionable item was that HB988 would have expanded the number of programs that draw from the fund generated by the Environmental Response, Energy, and Food Security Tax pursuant to section 243-3.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, commonly referred to as the "barrel tax," without increasing the barrel tax allocation to support the expansion. The fund has been declining due in part to the rising cost of oil, the switch to alternative energy sources, and the aviation fuel exemption. The fund is already being burdened by supporting environmental emergency response activities and approximately 40 positions within the state Department of Health and cannot support an additional program within the current allocation to the department.
The following bills will become law without the Governor's signature. In some cases, the Governor encouraged the Legislature to further review the measures and consider additional action during the next session:
- HB424 (Relating to Timeshare Conveyances)
- HB1059 (Relating to Court Advisement Concerning Alien Status)
- HB1130 (Relating to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation)
- SB3 (Relating to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs)
- SB68 (Relating to Sentencing)
- SB614 (Relating to Public Works of Art)
- SB867 (Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund)
- SB911 (Making Appropriations for Collective Bargaining Cost Items)
- SB966 (Relating to the Uniform Mediation Act)
- SB1214 (Relating to Transportation)
- SB1265 (Relating to Contracts)
- SB1388 (Relating to the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii)