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Annual cap on tax credits for film, digital media industry to increase after Gov. Ige backs off on veto

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Gov. David Ige’s vetoes are final as the Legislature declined to hold a special session today in which members could try to attract enough votes to override vetoes of certain bills.

Gov. David Ige allowed two bills that he initially intended to veto to become law today without his signature. One of the bills, Senate Bill 33, increases the annual cap on tax credits for the film and digital media industry from $35 million to $50 million. The other measure, Senate Bill 551, clarifies that condominium associations can conduct non-judicial foreclosures.

Ige vetoed 18 other bills that were passed by the Legislature earlier this year, including contentious measures relating to real estate investment trusts, vacation rentals and civil asset forfeitures. Those vetoes were expected, despite efforts by various parties to change the governor’s mind in recent weeks. Ige announced the bills he intended to veto on June 24.

Ige’s vetoes are final as the Legislature declined to hold a special session today in which members could try to attract enough votes to override vetoes of certain bills. House leadership announced last week that due to a lack of consensus between the House and Senate, there would be no special session.

Other measures that Ige vetoed today include:

  • Transport of medical marijuana: House Bill 290 would have allowed medical marijuana to be transported between the islands for personal medical use. Ige said the law could lead travelers to erroneously believe they are immune from federal prosecution if caught. Marijuana, even for medical purposes, remains illegal under federal law.
  • Compassionate inmate release: House Bill 629 would have created a formal medical release program within the Hawaii Paroling Authority that would permit inmates with terminal or debilitating diseases or illnesses to be released before their sentences expired. Ige said there was already a state medical release program and that the bill imposed requirements on the Public Safety Department and Hawaii Paroling Authority that could be difficult to fulfill. He said that the bill could also open the referral process for medical release to an inmate or inmate representative who was not medically trained.
  • Manele Bay Small Boat Harbor: House Bill 1032 would have allowed the Department of Land and Natural Resources to lease Manele Small Boat Harbor on Lanai in its entirety for the private development, management and operation of its facilities as part of a pilot project. Ige said the measure designated Manele Small Boat Harbor as a pilot program without public input.
  • Industrial hemp: Senate Bill 1353would have established an industrial hemp licensing program requiring the Department of Agriculture to create an industrial hemp plan to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bill would have also removed the cultivation, possession or sale of both licenses and unlicensed industrial hemp from criminal regulation. Ige said that the bill may have created a licensing structure that could not be enforced and that would not meet USDA requirements. He said the bill also created practical problems in enforcing medical cannabis.
  • E-cigarettes: Senate Bill 1405would have required public school teachers to confiscate e-cigarettes from students and required the Hawaii Department of Health to create a safe harbor program for disposing of the smoking devices. The bill would have increased fines from $10 to $100 for people under the age of 21 caught with the smoking devices. Ige said there were significant implantation and cost concerns relating to the measure and that confiscating and destroying evidence of a crime could hinder prosecution of suspects who sell e-cigarettes to people underage.
  • Hawaii Community Development Authority: Senate Bill 1530 would have transferred the source for funding staff positions with the Hawaii Community Development Authority from HCDA’s revolving fund to the general fund, contingent upon HCDA developing a plan to transfer control of the Kakaako Community Development District to the City of Honolulu. Ige said the tight the measure potentially threatened funding for 13 HCDA positions in the third quarter of the upcoming fiscal year.
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