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With a long ‘intent to veto list,’ governor meets opposition for what’s there—and what’s not

Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 10:24 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 5:09 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige’s “intent to veto list” is spurring relief from some — and outrage from others.

Even the number of bills on the list is sparking criticism.

House Speaker Scott Saiki called the list of bills the governor is targeting unusually long, which shows lawmakers had a difficult year working with the executive branch.

Among Saiki’s main concerns is one bill that made the list, and one bill that didn’t.

Saiki was surprised the governor decided not to veto a bill allowing for longer public land leases.

“That was a controversial bill,” said Saiki. “I thought that the governor would flag that in this list.”

Hawaiian sovereignty group Ka Lāhui Hawai’i was also surprised.

“It’s a slap in the face for Hawaiians that he did this,” said Healani Sonoda-Pale, spokeswoman for Ka Lāhui Hawai’i. “And it’s a slap in the face for the people of Hawaii.”

Without a veto, the state would be allowed to extend leases for a wide range of tenants, from shopping centers, to the military, to hotels.

They could get up to 40 more years on top of the current 65-year leases.

“This law will give developers the upper hand not just now, but in the future,” Sonoda-Pale said.

Ige said he does understand the opposition to the measure.

“But I also recognize that providing some mechanism for lease extensions, especially since the process identified would be extensive,” he said.

“Would include opportunities for public comment on any lease extension that would be considered, it would provide for opportunities to ensure transparency in the transactions.”

Saiki was also surprised to see the hotel room tax bill on the possible veto list.

The bill would slash the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s budget by 24%.

“This bill was intended to allow us to begin the process of reforming HTA as well as the way that we allocate hotel room tax revenue with to the counties,” said Saiki.

The bill would also let the state keep $103 million in hotel taxes that was taken away from the counties.

In return, counties would be allowed to charge their own accommodation taxes.

The hotel industry and Hawaii County’s mayor are strongly opposed to the bill and happy it might get the ax.

“I’m very concerned that the changes in this bill would severely damage shift to destination management,” said Ige. “We have heard loud and clear that our community is concerned it’s not about attracting more visitors.”

The governor has until July 6 to make his final decisions.

Any measures not on the governor’s intent to veto list will become law with or without his signature.

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