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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 2, 2001

Special session must be kept to one issue

Given the enormous amount of work they do under tight deadlines and public pressure, it is understandable that lawmakers will occasionally make a mistake.

Schedules are not met, legal language is inadvertently omitted, votes are not recorded. It happens all the time.

Thus the mixup that put into legal question the new two-year budgets for the state Judiciary and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is understandable. So too is the decision to reconvene to fix the mistake.

While the error was clearly technical, it could open the way to a lawsuit or other legal challenge somewhere down the line. That's a window the state cannot afford to open.

The special session of the Legislature to fix the problem will cost around $15,000, mostly costs associated with hauling Neighbor Island lawmakers to Honolulu, where they have to be housed and fed for the five-day session.

That's not a huge amount of money given the size of the state budget. But it is money the taxpayers didn't expect to spend. Thus there might be a temptation to make use of the time and money by adding other business to this special session.

That would be a mistake. It would muddle two issues into one. Correcting a technical, legal error is one item of business. Revisiting issues that were not handled during the regular session is another. The two should not be combined.