Gov. Neil Abercrombie has announced the last of his 17 vetoes for the year. State House and Senate leaders declined to return for a one-day override session on Tuesday, so the vetoes will stand.
House Bill 56 would have allowed the family court to award reasonable visitation rights to grandparents if the denial of visitation would cause significant harm to the child. This bill would make it more difficult for grandparents to visit their grandchildren.
House Bill 545 would have required electronic voter registration on the website of the Office of Elections by January 1, 2014. This measure would have required the Attorney General, counties, and the Office of Elections to modify its computer systems to verify the information required in the online voter registration system and to obtain an electronic copy of each applicant’s signature. The estimated cost of implementation is $2.5 million and no funding was provided in the bill. Electronic voter registration can be addressed as the state moves to assess and overhaul the state’s technology systems.
House Bill 667 would have created the food safety and security program within the Department of Agriculture (HDOA). This bill did not provide any funding or power for the department to establish regulations. Congress has recently passed the Food Safety Modernization Act and federal regulations are in the process of being passed. The state must act on the issue of food safety and this Administration will be working on bringing a bill before the Legislature that is comprehensive and includes implementation of a funding mechanism. Moreover, this measure has created such a division of opinion, passage of this bill would make more problems than it solves.
House Bill 1155 would have specified class A and B felonies that require mandatory minimum prison terms under the repeat offender statute. It would have also reinstated, added, and deleted certain class C felonies that require the mandatory minimum prison terms under the repeat offender statute. This 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change the current policy on how the criminal justice system addresses the problem of repeat offenders that was originally enacted since 1976. This 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. Governor Abercrombie agrees with the need to have judicial discretion and would like to revisit the issues raised in this bill in the next legislative session.
House Bill 1230 would have exempted the construction of nonresidential structures used for agricultural or aquacultural operations from county building permitting processes. This measure does not define “third party reviewer” nor does it require such reviewer to have any technical knowledge of building code requirements. This could lead to unqualified and inappropriate persons being labeled a third party reviewer to certify the building plans.
House Bill 1654 would have terminated 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. There is a technical flaw in this bill.
Senate Bill 23 would have established the Aha Kiole Advisory Council within DLNR. This Council is self-selected, not confirmed, has no defined term limits, offers no guidelines concerning the role of its members, selects its own Executive Director and offers no recourse for inappropriate conduct by its members. This is a private entity that would receive taxpayer funds with no oversight. Moreover, this Council is more appropriately placed with a new governing entity.
Senate Bill 40 would have established 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. There is a technical flaw in this bill making it unconstitutional because the title of the bill is “relating to pseudoephedrine.”
Senate Bill 44 would have required the Department of Public Safety (PSD) to establish performance indicators for inmate reentry system; and required reports, using key performance indicators, to be provided to the legislature. It created the corrections and program report as a consolidated report of other annual reports. This bill does not allow enough time or resources for PSD to accomplish the intended outcomes of the bill. The Governor agrees with the intent of this bill but feels that it is premature. He would like to wait to see the outcomes from the Justice Reinvestment process and assessment from the new Chief Information Officer on the PSD’s capacity to respond in these performance areas.
Senate Bill 49 would have required 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. PSD currently does this and there is another statute that covers this procedure.
Senate Bill 217 would have eliminated 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. This bill allowed an employer, including the state, to be sued for the criminal acts of its employees. This 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 Hawai’i Revised Statutes. Under the STLA, the state cannot be sued for the criminal or intentional acts of its employees. The elimination of a statute of limitations for a civil claim also raises grave constitutional and fairness concerns. If a claim can be brought after an unlimited passage of time, it is likely that documents will be lost or destroyed and witnesses will die or move away. The accused, even those falsely accused, will not be able to defend himself, herself, or itself, and true justice will not be achieved.
Senate Bill 590 would have extended the sunset date of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act Commission by six months. Governor Abercrombie already signed House Bill 383 into law as Act 26 that does the same thing.
Senate Bill 1417 would have established the minimum number of board members necessary to constitute a quorum for the State Rehabilitation Council to 10 and establishes the number of votes necessary to validate any action of the Council to at least a majority of quorum. Governor Abercrombie believes that rather than reduce quorum, it is better to appoint people to serve on the Council who are committed and will participate in meetings. Reducing the number of votes necessary to validate any action of the Council to 6 out of a 21 member council is not a fair representation of the Council.
Senate Bill 1493 would have required all new and replacement lights to be fully shielded beginning July 1, 2013, with certain exemptions. This bill did not provide funding for the significant initial and continuing expenses required to implement this legislation; and does not provide a feasible implementation plan. Governor Abercrombie believes this is a worthy issue and will work with the Legislature in the 2012 Legislative Session to achieve the objectives of this measure.
Senate Bill 1559 would have required priority processing of applications for agricultural facilities of an agribusiness that only processes crops or livestock produced on Important Agricultural Lands (IAL). It also required the Public Utility Commission to establish preferential rates for the purchase of energy consumed for agricultural purposes on IAL. While these incentives are important for encouraging agriculture and the designation of IALs, the preferential treatment needs to be decided within an overall agricultural policy. Moreover, mandates on county governments should be worked out before imposing new requirements.