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Hawaiʻi Gov. Green issues intent to veto 11 bills passed by Hawai‘i State Legislature

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Gov. Josh Green today notified legislative leaders and stakeholders of his intent to veto 11 bills passed by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature during the 2023 session.

While Green is not required to issue a veto for every bill on the intent to veto list, all bills not included in the list will become law by July 11.

“These decisions are not taken lightly,” Green said. “My views on the bills listed here are based on legal considerations, impacts to the public and residents, and efficient government operations.”

The governor has until July 11 to issue final vetoes.

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki said House members will need to caucus to discuss the bills identified in the governor’s veto list.

“At first glance, it does not appear that these vetoes would necessitate an override vote,” Saiki said. “The Legislature may continue its work on these bills for the 2024 Legislative Session.”

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The 11 bills submitted to the legislature are listed below, as well as Green’s reason for veto:

HB153RELATING TO STATE WATER CODE PENALTIES

Bill Description: Adds a minimum penalty of $50 and a maximum penalty of $60,000 per violation of the State Water Code, assessed daily. Requires the Commission on Water Resource Management to determine the amount of the penalty based on the circumstances of the violation.

Veto Rationale: If enacted, these fines may curtail and discourage housing developments across Hawai‘i. Boards of water supply across all 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.

HB475: RELATING TO THE STATE FOUNDATION ON CULTURE AND THE ARTS

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Bill Description: Establishes the Art in Private Places Pilot Program and Special Account. Clarifies the scope of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ responsibilities to include administration of the pilot program. Requires annual reports to the legislature.

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 may 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, the enaction of this bill into law may compromise the state’s tax-exempt bond program, negatively impact our bondholders and the state, increasing debt service costs and tarnishing the state’s financial reputation.

SB814: RELATING TO ELECTRONIC INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACCESSIBILITY FOR PERSONS WITH LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY

Bill Description: Requires 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. Appropriates funds for one full-time equivalent (1.00 FTE) position.

Veto Rationale: This legislation requires branches of government and entities outside of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services’ (ETS) authority to follow ETS standards. However, state agencies need discretion to provide language access in a cost-effective manner. Across the State of Hawai‘i, there are approximately 600 Information Technology (IT) systems. Implementation for this effort would lead to increased costs and impede modernization efforts across our state’s IT systems.

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SB945: RELATING TO SPECIAL PURPOSE DIGITAL CURRENCY LICENSURE

Bill Description: Beginning January 1, 2024, establishes within the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Financial Institutions, a program for the licensure, regulation, and oversight of special purpose digital currency companies. Extends operations of companies in the Digital Currency Innovation Lab under certain circumstances. Appropriates funds.

Veto Rationale: The bill does not provide funds to enact the legislation’s purpose, as has been requested by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA). Funds would need to be allocated from the Compliance Resolution Fund (CRF), which is not typically used to start new programs. Regulatory and oversight provisions of the bill may not be sufficient to provide consumer protection for residents.

HB964: RELATING TO THE CERTIFICATION OF DOCUMENTS

Bill Description: Establishes a fee of $10 for the issuance of an apostille or non-apostille certification and establishes the apostilles and certifications special fund. Authorizes the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to expend moneys in the fund for operational expenses. Appropriates funds into the special fund. Effective January 1, 2024. (CD1)

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.

HB999: RELATING TO THE HAWAIʻI TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Bill Description: Amends 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. Adds the Chairperson of the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaiʻi, unless the Chairperson, with the approval of the Board of Regents, designates another Regent to serve. Establishes a public policy framework that addresses state goals in the area of economic diversification. Appropriates funds to the Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation to implement specific projects that address those goals. Requires the Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation to submit annual reports to the legislature.

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 HTDC Board of Directors are too substantial. This administration remains supportive of the HTDC’s commitment to economic diversification.

SB1079: RELATING TO EXPUNGEMENT

Bill Description: Requires courts to, upon application, to expunge records of convictions, if the sentencing occurred before 1998, for first-time offenses involving: (1) operating a vehicle after consuming a measurable amount of alcohol while under the age of 21 years; and (2) certain property offenses. Takes effect July 1, 2025.

Veto Rationale: According to the Attorney General, this bill intends to expunge records of sentences imposed prior to 1998, but the two laws referenced in the bill were enacted after 1998. Therefore, the bill has no impact for expungement.

HB1088: RELATING TO DECLARATION OF WATER SHORTAGE AND EMERGENCY

Bill Description: Amends the conditions, manner, and areas in which the Commission on Water Resource Management of the Department of Land and Natural Resources can declare and provide notice of water shortages and emergencies.

Veto Rationale: The existing powers of the Hawai‘i Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) are sufficient to address emergency situations. In addition, CWRM is still developing a Water Shortage Plan, which is a critical foundation for any future strategy concerning water shortage emergencies.

HB1090: RELATING TO OCEAN RECREATION COMMERCIAL PERMITS

Bill Description: Specifies the methods by which the Department of Land and Natural Resources can issue new ocean recreation commercial permits and renew existing ocean recreation commercial permits. Specifies 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. For renewal of existing permits in ocean recreation management areas and facilities where a permit limit is implemented, bases renewal of a commercial permit on seniority, until the limit is reached.

Veto Rationale: Hawai‘i must strategically regulate commercial uses across our shared ocean for the perpetuation of our natural and cultural resources. While the recreation commercial permitting system requires reform, our state needs to take a balanced, concerted approach so that fishermen, hundreds of local jobs, and several businesses across our islands are not adversely impacted by the sudden change in ocean recreation commercial permits.

SB1518: RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Bill Description: Provides procurement exemptions for the Department of Education for certain goods, services, and construction. Sunsets June 30, 2026.

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 which it believes should not apply to competitive procurement, then existing statute and administrative rules already provide guidelines for such exemptions. If enacted, this bill will decrease efficiency, create administrative burdens, limit competition, and open unfair advantages to certain vendors.

SB1586: RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII COLLEGE OF TROPICAL AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN RESOURCES

Bill Description: Appropriates funds to the University of Hawaiʻi to establish five administrative, professional, and technical full-time equivalent (5.0 APT FTE) positions at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Veto Rationale: While the intent of the bill is supported, there are logistical issues with this legislation. This legislation may conflict with statutes related to classification of employees at University of Hawai‘i because the positions proposed in the bill are inappropriately listed as administrative, professional, and technical (APT) positions, when positions of this type are faculty-level positions.

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