Gov. David Ige last week notified Hawaii House and Senate leaders of his final veto list.
The list includes five of six measures that were on his original “intent to veto” list sent to lawmakers Aug. 31.
The bills propose a range of initiatives — from using federal coronavirus relief funds to purchase devices for Hawaii schools to mandating larger state facilities implement cost-effective efficiency measures by 2024. Ige’s listed reasons for the vetoes include liability risks as well necessity when efforts are already underway to do what bills sought to accomplish.
One bill that is no longer on the list from August is Senate Bill 2638, which proposes a pilot program to strengthen the state’s response to domestic violence.
Ige vetoed the following bills:
>> HB 1523 (Regarding use of funds for school device purchases)
This measure provides funding to the Department of Education utilizing the federal coronavirus relief funds to purchase devices for schools with needy student populations.
Rationale: This bill is not necessary since the DOE has already received funds to accomplish this purpose through the governor’s discretionary funding without limitation on the schools that are eligible.
>> HB 1846 (Relating to energy efficiency)
This bill mandates that all state facilities with an area of 10,000 square feet or more (not including Aloha Stadium) implement all cost-effective energy efficiency measures by Jan. 1, 2024; that the State Energy Office be tasked with collecting all utility bill and energy usage data for state-owned facilities monthly and making such information available in a publicly accessible format; and that beginning July 1, if feasible and cost-effective, designs for all new state building construction maximize energy and water efficiency, energy generation potential, and use of building materials that reduce the project’s carbon footprint.
Rationale: This bill creates an unnecessary risk of litigation. The state is already in the process of implementing the energy efficiency changes, with 23 projects valued at approximately $39M committed to energy efficiency anticipated in 2021. The state is also working towards the acquisition of a more energy efficient vehicle fleet. In addition, the state’s public works projects continue to incorporate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building elements in new and renovated public facilities. Finally, Energy Savings Performance contracts are being implemented at state facilities when feasible.
>> HB 2124 (Amends state ethics code)
This measure amends the State Ethics Code to prohibit the governor, lieutenant governor, and other high-level government officials from representing any person or business for a fee or other compensation regarding any legislative or administrative action for 12 months after termination from respective position.
Rationale: This bill is being vetoed because most of the boards and commissions listed in this bill have members who serve voluntarily without compensation yet are treated as employees under state law. This bill would subject volunteers to additional restrictions imposed on board and commission members, and potentially impact their performance in their regular occupations. It would also make it significantly more challenging to attract and recruit the most qualified individuals for service on boards and commissions.
>> SB 2206 (Relating to Homelessness)
This bill authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to issue revocable month-to-month temporary permits for the emergency sheltering of homeless persons on state lands. The permits would be effective up until 90 days after the emergency relief period specified in the governor’s final Supplementary Proclamation relating to the COVID-19 emergency.
Rationale: As written, this bill may expose the state to liability. There are also concerns regarding extra costs in the event of a default where the Department of Land and Natural Resources could incur significant personnel costs for eviction enforcement, as well as expenses for removal of abandoned structures and any remediation required to address the unauthorized land uses.
>> SB 2523 (Relating to Public Safety)
This requires the Department of Public Safety to expend certain appropriated funds during fiscal year 2020-2021 for the community-based work furlough program for female inmates.
Rationale: This bill is being vetoed because payments for the furlough program are made periodically throughout the fiscal year rather than in an up-front, lump-sum payment. The requirements of this bill, therefore, would prohibit all other expenditures from the department’s fiscal year 2020-2021 appropriation because it is impossible to expend the entire $450,045 on the work-furlough program until the end of the fiscal year. In addition, the department would be unable to pay the administrative costs to implement the furlough program itself, which is the purpose of this bill. It is also unnecessary because the governor has issued an administrative directive to the department to continue work furlough programs for eligible female inmates.