GOP pushes for expanded special session
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau
Senate Minority Floor Leader Fred Hemmings yesterday called on the Legislature to override Gov. Ben Cayetano's veto of a motorcycle training bill, saying lawmakers should "have the courage to defend their work."
Hemmings, R-25th (Kai-lua, Waimanalo), said the bill, which would have allowed military motorcycle training programs to be recognized by the state, is not crucial. But he pointed out that the measure was unopposed in the Legislature and that "the governor should not have unilateral dictatorial powers."
Hemmings' floor speech yesterday was yet another example of GOP lawmakers' attempts at expanding the five-day special session agenda and calling attention to areas where they believe the Legislature has fallen short.
Yesterday, House Republicans introduced a bill to exempt from the general excise tax payments to a professional employment organization from a client company for employees' wages, salaries and benefits. Senate Republicans introduced a similar bill Monday.
But Democratic House and Senate leaders have made it clear they only want to address procedural errors that flawed three bills and two Cayetano appointments.
Hemmings said lawmakers should try to tackle other issues while the Legislature is in the special session.
"We're using the special session to try to have the Legislature function the way it's supposed to according to the constitution and not be a rubber stamp for a one-party political monopoly," Hemmings said.
On the last day of the regular session, Hemmings unsuccessfully tried to get the Legislature to override the governor's veto of a bill relating to interisland vehicle transfers, and said it has been decades since the majority party has overridden a veto.
Senate majority staff attorneys say the state constitution only allows a veto override session on the 45th day after the regular Legislative session ends, which would be July 10. Hemmings said he and other legal scholars disagree and that it can be done this week. The constitution reads: "The Legislature may convene at or before noon on the forty-fifth day in special session, without call, for the sole purpose of acting upon any such bill returned by the governor."
Senate Majority Co-Leader Jonathan Chun, D-7th (S. Kaua'i, Ni'ihau), also said while the Senate is open to overriding vetoes, taking such action would be "a useless gesture at best" because the House does not support it.
"Unless we have some very strong sentiment to override vetoes both in the public and also in the House, it will not do us any good for us to entertain such action at this point in time," he said.
In his veto message, Cayetano said the motorcycle training bill is "unnecessary and may result in undesirable inconsistencies with current efforts of the state Department of Transportation in this area."
Senate President Robert Bunda, D-22nd (Wahiawa, Waialua, Sunset Beach), said Hemmings is "clearly within his rights, but given the fact that we only have five days and cannot override until the 45th day, it's literally impossible to do."
Also yesterday, the Senate Transportation, Military Affairs and Government Operations Committee unanimously endorsed Cayetano's nomination of former Budget and Finance Department Deputy Director Wayne Kimura as state comptroller. The committee received overwhelming testimony supporting Kimura's appointment.
Today, the Water, Land, Energy and Environment Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for former Board of Land and Natural Resources chairman Tim Johns, who has been appointed as a board member.