Green vetoes 11 bills passed during 2023 legislative session
Gov. Josh Green on Friday notified state legislative leaders that he vetoed 11 bills passed during the 2023 session of the Hawai’i Legislature.
The bills Green returned to lawmakers are:
This measure would have added a minimum penalty of $50 and maximum penalty of $60,000 per violation of the state water code, assessed daily, and required the Commission on Water Resource Management to determine the amount of the penalty based on the circumstances of the violation.
Green’s veto rationale: If enacted, these fines could curtail and discourage housing developments throughout Hawai‘i. Boards of water supply in all four of the state’s counties would almost immediately apply such fines to developments guilty of over-pumping water. Without a graduated schedule or a set of guidelines for penalties and fines, this significant increase appears both arbitrary and discretionary.
This bill would have established the Art in Private Places pilot program and special account, clarified the scope of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ responsibilities to include administration of the pilot program.
Green’s veto rationale: The use of state-owned artwork purchased from the Works of Art special fund to support non-state individuals, businesses or entities goes against the original intent of Art in Public Places law. This legislation might violate Article VII, Section Four of the Hawai‘i State Constitution, which prohibits the appropriation of public property for any use beyond a public purpose. Furthermore, making this bill law could compromise the state’s tax-exempt bond program, negatively impact the state’s bondholders and the state, increasing debt service costs and tarnishing the state’s financial reputation.
SB814 would have required the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, in consultation with the Office of Language Access and a working group comprising stakeholders, to develop and publish and periodically review and update electronic information technology multilingual accessibility standards to be implemented by all state entities.
Green’s veto rationale: This legislation requires branches of government and entities outside the authority of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services to follow enterprise tech services standards. However, state agencies need discretion to provide language access in a cost-effective manner. Implementation would lead to increased costs and impede modernization efforts throughout the state’s information technology systems.
This measure would have established a program within the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Financial Institutions for the licensure, regulation and oversight of special purchase digital currency companies. It also would have extended operations of companies in the Digital Currency Innovation Lab under certain circumstances.
Green’s veto rationale: The bill does not provide funds to enact the legislation’s purpose as requested by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Funds would need to be allocated from the Compliance Resolution Fund, which is not typically used to start new programs. Regulatory and oversight provisions of the bill also might not be sufficient to provide consumer protection for residents.
HB964 would have established a fee of $10 for the issuance of an apostille or non-apostille certification and an apostilles and certifications special fund. Furthermore, it would have authorized the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to expend money in the fund for operational expenses.
Green’s veto rationale: This bill’s proposed fee increases apostille issuances and non-apostille certifications from $1 to $10 dollars. This is a large increase to the cost of a public service and disproportionally impacts educational and community groups who rely on this essential government service.
This bill would have amended the composition of the Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation Board of Directors to remove an appointed member of the University of Hawai‘i, or its designated representative; added the UH Board of Regents chairperson, unless the chairperson, with the approval of the regents, designates another regent to serve; and established a public policy framework that addresses state goals in the area of economic diversification.
Green’s veto rationale: Modification of the composition of the Hawai‘i Technology and Development Corporation Board of Directors in not needed. Despite support for the economic diversification measures envisioned through this legislation, the proposed modifications to the board are too substantial.
SB1079 would have required courts, upon application, to expunge records of convictions if the sentencing occurred before 1998 for first-time offenses involving operating a vehicle after consuming a measurable amount of alcohol while under the age of 21 years and certain property offenses, effective July 1, 2025.
Green’s veto rationale: According to the state attorney general, this bill intends to expunge records of sentences imposed prior to 1998, but the two laws referenced in the measure were enacted after 1998. Therefore, the bill has no impact for expungement.
This measure would have amended the conditions, manner and areas in which the Hawai‘i Commission on Water Resource Management of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources can declare and provide notice of water shortages and emergencies.
Green’s veto rationale: The existing powers of the commission are sufficient to address emergency situations. In addition, the commission is still developing a water shortage plan, which is a critical foundation for any future strategy concerning water shortage emergencies.
This bill would have specified the methods by which the Department of Land and Natural Resources can issue new ocean recreation commercial permits and renew existing permits and specified that new permits for ocean recreation management areas and facilities where a permit limit is implemented shall be issued by the method and order set specified until the limit is reached. Renewal of existing permits in ocean recreation management areas and facilities where a permit limit is implemented would have been based on seniority, until the limit is reached.
Green’s veto rationale: While the recreation commercial permitting system requires reform, the state needs to take a balanced, concerted approach so fishermen, hundreds of local jobs and several businesses throughout the islands are not adversely impacted by the sudden change in ocean recreation commercial permits.
SB1518 would have provided procurement exemptions for the state Department of Education for certain goods, services and construction, with a sunset date of June 30, 2026.
Green’s veto rationale: Existing guidelines under a singular procurement code provide for an open and transparent process; procurement should be uniform for all statewide government entities. If the Department of Education has specific goods or services it thinks should not apply to competitive procurement, then existing statute and administrative rules already provide guidelines for such exemptions. If enacted, this bill would decrease efficiency, create administrative burdens, limit competition and open unfair advantages to certain vendors.
This bill would have appropriated funds to the University of Hawaiʻi to establish five administrative, professional and technical full-time positions at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
Green’s veto rationale: While the intent of the bill is supported, there are logistical issues. This legislation could conflict with statutes related to classification of employees at the University of Hawai‘i because the positions proposed in the bill are inappropriately listed as administrative, professional and technical positions when positions of this type are faculty-level positions.