LIHU‘E — Outgoing Gov. David Ige closed his final legislative session by issuing vetoes of 26 bills presented to him by the state Legislature, and let six become law without his signature Tuesday.
Among the vetoed bills are a bail-reform bill, a ban on flavored vape products, and a bill expanding the investigative powers of the state Department of Human Services Child Welfare Services Branch.
The state Legislature’s Director of Communications Jacob Aki reported that the House and Senate had no plans to attempt to override any of the vetoes.
House Bill 1567 — which would eliminate the use of cash bail for certain low-level offenses — moved too fast for the governor.
“This bill is objectionable because there has not been sufficient time since the Legislature made changes by Act 179, Session Laws of Hawai‘i 2019, to the state’s criminal pretrial system to fully assess the effect of the changes,” wrote Ige in a letter to the Legislature.
He went on to write that the bill does not address the need to secure the appearance of defendants in court, and that the inclusion of Class C felony offenses “poses a potential safety threat to the public.”
The bill passed with broad support from the Legislature, but faced a backlash from the State of Hawai‘i Organization of Police Officers, mayors including Derek Kawakami, and eventually even the lawmaker who drafted the bill.
Criminal-justice-reform advocates have held fast in their support for the measure, pointing to the cost of imprisoning inmates who have not committed a crime (estimated at $219 a day per inmate), numerous exemptions that would require bail for those who pose a danger to the public or a flight risk, and bias in the cash-bail system towards those with the ability to pay.
The vaping bill got the veto because it didn’t achieve its stated goal of banning flavored tobacco products, Ige said. This is due to a late-session addition that would exempt certain products that had received federal Food and Drug Administration Approval.
Ige said the amendment “would benefit the tobacco and vaping industries, and would cede, without principled reason, the state’s authority to enact and enforce a flavor ban to protect Hawai‘i’s youth from the scourge of vaping and nicotine addiction.”
He also said that the bill might violate the state constitution.
Constitutional issues were also the reason for Ige’s veto of House Bill 2424, Relating to Child Welfare Services, which would have allowed for unlimited investigations of foster families in response to DHS complaints without regard to the merits of the complaint and or whether the complaint was ever substantiated.
“I want to repeat that I strongly support the intent of this bill, which is to give more resources and authority to the Child Welfare Services Division to ensure that our keiki are safe,” said Ige.
“The trauma that our community experienced over the loss of a former foster child is real and cannot be dismissed. But the solution cannot and should not violate the constitutional privacy rights and basic dignity of every family that has taken in and provided a former foster child with love and stability.”
The governor said that many of the bills were vetoed for “legal, procedural and compliance issues.”
Two bills on Ige’s June 27 intent-to-veto list ended up getting the governor’s signature after all — Senate Bill 3179, which requires the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife to adopt rules and issue funds to licensed hunters; and Senate Bill 3272, which requires the state Department of Transportation to adopt rules to require tour-aircraft operations to report details of each flight on a monthly basis and establishes the Air, Noise and Safety Task Force.
In all, Ige signed 311 of the 343 bills passed by the Legislature in this year’s session.
The governor also allowed six bills to become law without his signature, which he believes contain technical issues or areas that need to be reworked and discussed more thoroughly with the affected state departments.
The bills are:
• SB2990, Relating to Sustainable Agriculture;
• SB2218, Relating to a Food Hub Pilot Program;
• HB2020, Relating to Housing;
• HB1872, Relating to Sustainability;
• HB2288, Relating to Land;
• HB1932, Relating to Child Welfare Services.
Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or email@example.com.
Source: The Garden Island