Grammar Mistake Could Cost Cancer Research Thousands

(KHNL) - A bill meant to tax cigarette sales to help fund a new cancer research center could be going up in smoke because of a grammatical error. It's one of several bills that could be placed on Governor Lingle's veto list.

Senate bill 2961 designates a one-cent tax increase every year for the next six years. However, the bill was supposed to say one-cent per cigarette.

"Those things happen -- you're human," said Dr. Carl Wilhem Vogel, director of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii.

But because of mistake, the Governor is considering vetoing it.

"It will be a big problem," said Vogel. "For all practical purposes, it will stall the project."

The tax is designed to raise up to $40 million a year for the research center, and other health services in Hawaii.

Lawmakers have said the wording is a small enough error that Lingle could sign the bill into law, and lawmakers could make adjustments to it during the next legislative session.

The group "save Our Kakaako" is also keeping its fingers crossed on House Bill 2555. It prohibits the sale of public land and the building of condos in the Kakaako Waterfront area.

"By passing this bill and making it law, it would preserve the area for public use," said Ron Iwami, the group's president.

The group has been fighting the planned development for more than a year, and is urging the Governor not to veto the bill it has fought so hard for.

"It's at her doorstep," said Iwami. "It's on her desk now, and we have to show that the people are still concerned."

Governor Lingle has until july 11th to veto any of the bills on her list. After that, all bills will become law with or without her signature.

The legislature has the power to override any of the governor's vetoes in a special session. However, lawmakers have said they don't anticipate to meet in a special session this year.