Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s decision to issue an emergency proclamation in June to help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contain discarded military explosives has drawn comparisons to then-Gov. Linda Lingle’s proclamation in 2006 on the homeless.
After Lingle kept extending the emergency, state lawmakers responded with a bill in 2008 that would have restricted the governor’s emergency powers. The bill passed the state House and Senate but was vetoed by Lingle. The Senate voted to override the veto, but the House declined to attempt an override, so the bill failed.
From the bill:
§127-10 Disaster relief [during suspension of preceding sections.] for disasters not caused by enemy attacks. [During any period in which sections] (a) Sections 127-1 to 127-9 [are not] shall be in effect[,] and available to provide relief for disasters not covered under chapter 128, and the governor and political subdivisions may exercise any and all of their powers [that relate to disasters resulting from enemy attacks, in order] authorized under this chapter to provide [other disaster] relief[.] for these disasters. All provisions of law that relate to disasters resulting from enemy attacks [during such period] are made applicable to other disaster relief, including without limitation, provisions making or authorizing appropriations or expenditures[.]; provided that to exercise the powers authorized under this chapter and chapter 128 for disasters that are not caused by:
(1) A fire, flood, tidal wave, volcanic eruption, earthquake, pandemic illness, or other natural causes and major disasters caused by acts of man, including but not limited to massive oil spills, nuclear accidents, airplane crashes, and civil disturbances; or
(2) An enemy attack or act of terrorism,
the governor shall first find and declare through an emergency proclamation that tangible and measurable harm or damage has resulted or is about to result as a consequence of the disaster and that the disaster relief could not otherwise be achieved through legislation enacted in the next occurring regular session of the legislature or a special session of the legislature called by the governor for the purpose of providing for the relief. If disaster relief can be achieved through legislation enacted in the next occurring regular session of the legislature or a special session of the legislature called by the governor for the purpose of providing for the relief, then the governor shall not execute any action to further provide for disaster relief under this chapter.
(b) Any relief provided under this chapter for a disaster not enumerated in subsection (a)(1) and (2) shall not extend beyond the adjournment sine die of the next occurring regular session of the legislature after the governor declares that the disaster relief is necessary, unless expressly authorized by the legislature through the adoption of a concurrent resolution or by the enactment of law. The governor shall submit a report on the governor’s findings and recommendations on whether to extend any disaster relief provided under this chapter, and any enabling proposed legislation or appropriations to authorize the continuance of any disaster relief provided. If the legislature does not adopt a concurrent resolution or enact legislation to execute or extend disaster relief, the governor shall not execute disaster relief actions under this chapter or extend the provision of disaster relief for a particular disaster beyond the adjournment sine die of the legislature during the session in which the legislation was considered.
As used in this section ["other]:
“Other disaster relief” means the preparation for and the carrying out of all functions, other than functions for which military forces are primarily responsible, to minimize and repair injury and damage resulting from disasters caused by fire, flood, tidal wave, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or other natural causes and major disasters caused by acts of man, including but not limited to[,] massive oil spills, nuclear accidents, airplane crashes, and civil disturbances[.]; provided that the term does not include the remedying of periodic or longstanding societal inequities or circumstances that may arise over the course of time that could otherwise be contemplated and remedied through the enactment of law under the legislative process.
“Tangible and measurable harm or damage” means harm or damage that may occur in the immediate future or that has already occurred and that, unless immediately acted upon, would otherwise be irreparable, result in the imminent loss of life, or pose an immediate health or safety hazard to humans or the environment.“
Several state lawmakers said on Tuesday that they wished Abercrombie had consulted them before issuing his emergency proclamation on discarded military explosives, which suspended nearly two dozen state land use and environmental regulations for five years to help with the munitions clean up.
State Rep. Henry Aquino (D, Pearl City-Waipahu), the chairman of the House Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee, was not aware Abercrombie had issued the emergency proclamation until hearing from the news media this week. The governor’s staff posted the proclamation on the governor’s website along with other executive orders, but did not release a public statement.
Aquino said he understands the governor’s concern about the potential dangers posed by abandoned military explosives. “It would have been nice to be consulted, let’s put it that way,” he said.