June 28, 2009

The wait is almost over – vetoes announced tomorrow

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 6:24 pm

Long time, no posting. Sorry. This post has been on my back burner for quite some time, and now it is finally time for me to act.

Back in early May, the Governor issued a press release seeking public comment and input on the bills transmitted to her by the 2009 legislature.

As she has done in prior years, the Governor is seeking comments on bills from the public, including individuals, businesses, industry and professional associations, nonprofit groups, and community organizations statewide. In addition, the Administration is soliciting input from the counties, law enforcement agencies and state boards and commissions.

“I am asking the public to stay engaged in the process,” said Governor Lingle. “My Administration values the public’s input regarding the impact the proposed laws will have on residents, businesses and the future of our state.”

Engaged? That’s me, in spades!

Days earlier, in her veto of a few tax increases, the Governor chided the Legislature for its lack of transparency, suggesting a contrast with herself:

The Governor plans to issue her vetoes in a public forum with the opportunity for members of the community to fully see and understand the basis for her decisions. This compares to the practice of the Legislature who render their decisions late at night, frequently behind closed doors, and without the opportunity for public scrutiny.

A few weeks later, in the Honolulu Weekly wrap-up of the completed regular session, Governor Lingle wrote:

The general public may not be aware of how many critical decisions by the Legislature are made behind closed doors during conference committees, instead out in the open during public hearings. This means that when a bill fails to pass at the last minute, we often have the same questions as the public: “What happened? How come?” Several innovative measures introduced by our Administration, and which had broad bipartisan support, suffered this fate this past legislative session, and were killed during secret sessions and with no explanation. Until this process is improved and made more transparent, I fear that the Hawaii public will continue to be kept in the dark on issues that affect their quality of life.

A few chinks in the Governor’s “transparency” armor have appeared since then. Before her speech about the budget crisis, the Governor and her administration engaged in closed-door meetings all weekend. Hmmmm.

Is the Lingle administration on or off the transparency wagon at this time? June 29 is the last day for the Governor to signal if she intends to veto any of the still-pending legislation.

UPDATED: Here is the list of measures the Governor intends to veto.

So, here’s where I go to work. I have made a UIPA request to obtain all the incoming and outgoing communication and records related to the veto (or approval) of the still-pending legislation. If the Lingle administration is as good as her word [wink], then with this information we will know, “What happened? How come?” If individuals, businesses, industry and professional associations, nonprofit groups, community organizations, counties, law enforcement agencies and state boards and commissions actually participated in the process as she requested, then there should be plenty of records to disclose. I’m sure the Lingle administration will respond promptly, but even if a response takes the entire 10 days allowed by law we’ll have the information before any veto may be carried out.

RELATED: If she does not sign the budget bill by Wednesday, then what? Automatic furlough?

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