Hawaii Legislature Exhibits Short-Sightedness

by Pearl Hahn

Yesterday, the House convened a special session at 11:30 AM to override several of Governor Lingle’s vetoes. Amie, one of the Grassroot development interns, and I took our video camera and notepads to document the event.

As it turned out, the House was united in its efforts. They wasted no time overriding the veto of HB31, which establishes an employer’s use of an individual’s credit history in hiring and termination decisions as an unlawful, discriminatory practice, and SB695, which requires an employer to continue medical services to an injured employee despite disputes over whether treatment should be continued.

The House also overrode the veto of HB358, which authorizes the placement of offenders in drug treatment facilities, and HB982, which establishes a new data collection system for family leave and appropriates disability benefits.

When it came to HB989, which would extend Keiki Care, the failed children’s ‘free’ health care program, until June 2012, Representative Pine spoke out against overriding the veto, citing statistics that indicate several parents with the ability to pay dropped their insurance and took advantage of Keiki Care, which failed to attract the majority of the targeted “gap group” children.

Her colleagues chose to overlook her argument and promptly overrode the veto. Similarly, they overrode SB423, which appropriates money to match federal funds for Medicaid disproportionate share hospital allowance, HB1504, which creates the Hawaii Health Authority to develop a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care in Hawaii (I’d love to see the cost analysis on this one), SB266, which establishes a climate change task force (I recall seeing several of these bills floating around, despite the fact that outside contractors are already working on similar projects), and SB1665, which enhances the workforce development capacity of Hawaii’s community colleges.

For the full list of veto overrides, check out the state capitol website.

Whew! I wonder how much each of these bills costs, and whether any of the legislators would have overrode the vetoes with such enthusiasm if there were fiscal impact statements attached to them.

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