Will Aiona veto HB 444?

Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona’s veto of a bill suspending technology tax credits has some civil unions advocates sweating that he’ll also veto HB 444 while Gov. Linda Lingle is away in China.

Odds are she’ll veto civil unions herself after she returns, but supporters take a small measure of hope from the fact that she’s never publicly spoken against it and doesn’t share Aiona’s strong religious views against gay unions.

Aiona is acting governor while Lingle is out of state and has the legal right to take whatever action he wishes, but Lingle specifically said he wouldn’t act on HB 444 in her absence and presumably there’s an understanding given the close relationship they’ve had.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona

The veto of SB 2401, the three-year suspenson of technology tax credits, was a good call by the administration and an apt way to help Aiona look gubernatorial as he revs up his campaign to succeed Lingle.

Because of a lack of transparency, there are doubts that the tax credits have produced the number or quality of high-tech jobs promised, and the law creating the credits deserves a thorough review going forward.

But it isn’t kosher to take away tax credits from companies that have already made investments based on the promise that tax credits would be forthcoming. Hawai’i doesn’t need another black eye as a lousy place to do business.

The Legislature could still override Aiona’s veto, but lawmakers should let it be. The $93 million the bill was supposed to save likely would be tied up in litigation, and improving state tax collections seem on track to make up the difference.

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29 Comments on “Will Aiona veto HB 444?”

  1. Hawaiino Says:

    Yeah, Duke can “rev his engine” on SB2401 but the only way he get’s any traction, with his base or fence-sitters wondering if he has a pair, is on HB444.
    This exposes him to the former, and will probably confirm the latters suspicions.

  2. shaftalley Says:

    targeted tax credits/cuts is corporate welfare.it gives certain industries special privileges at the expense of everyone else.if we want to really stimulate hawaii economy,let people and businesses keep more of their own capital.

  3. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    Ainoa’s veto is mostly political theater … he fights for the MOST WEALTHY while dodging equal rights for ALL Americans.

    Act 221 is a government handout to a very small number of privileged individuals and groups, i.e, wealthy investors, insurance companies and banks.

    David writes, “But it isn’t kosher to take away tax credits from companies that have already made investments based on the promise that tax credits would be forthcoming.”

    Instead our kosher public policy is to take away income from hard working, middle class public servants. They signed contracts years ago that established their pay levels. They bought homes, purchased cars or sent their keiki to college based on this expected income.

    David claims it isn’t kosher to re-neg on promises to our MOST WEALTHY – who can shoulder the cutbacks – yet accepts that we re-neg on promises to thousands of middle class families who are struggling and have limited financial resources.

    This is why conditions across America and on our islands continue to deteriorate. We protect the MOST RICH at the expense of the poor and middle classes.

    Some will criticize saying I dislike the rich. This isn’t true. I wouldn’t support withholding tax credits in normal times. Yet when facing a budget deficit and mandated to balance our affairs, it simply makes logical economic sense to cut back on gifts to the MOST RICH while supporting the poor and middle class.

    The bottom line is we are unable to create new businesses or grow existing firms until consumers can afford to buy. This is the challenge of a DEMAND crisis.

    Ultimately, we will need to invest in our private sector if we hope to remain competitive in this global economy. Yet we must first shore up our foundation – and this is our struggling middle class.


  4. Seawalker Says:

    Dave, when you say there’s a transparency issue among the tax credits, you are sooooo right. The rationale was to make Hawaii another Silicon Valley, but we all know better.

    If you want to talk transparency, let’s talk about all the money given to OHA. There is absolutely no legislative oversight. Who is monitoring OHA? Duke, if you want to impress us, go after where the real problems are. The ladies might be swooning all over you, but in the world of politics, looks only go so far. And being the LG and Hawaiian, perhaps you could prove your worth by stirring the pot a little.

    Lingle is not a likeable person, but Duke is likable, and someone with serious doubts about himself.

    A*L*O*H*A times 2!

  5. jayz43 Says:

    I just read an interesting article just posted on Civil Beat entitled, “Hawaii Business Roundtable Urges Gov. Lingle To Veto Civil Unions Bill”.

    I wonder why the SA hasn’t posted an article on this letter?!

  6. Kolea Says:

    Because of Jayz comment, I searched for the Business Roundtable’s letter to Lingle. It is posted in Chad Blair’s article on Civil Beat:

    I am disappointed to read such a poorly reasoned letter coming from a business organization I have generally found top be pretty reasonable. Each of the objections in the letter are groundless. They are essentially “blowing smoke,” which can provide cover for Lingle to do what she wants to do anyway, ehich is to veto the bill.

    I guess Don Horner and Mitch D’Olier are unwilling to sit back, but have decided to use the BR as another tool in their efforts to impose their religious conservative agenda on society. Shaftalley sometimes uses the term “ruling class” pretty carelessly. In Horner and D’Olier, we have prime examples of politically active, business executives who try to pull the strings behind the scenes.

    “Round Table”? I hadn’t thought of it in that way. Are these the knights, the armed warriors of the feudal order, riding forth to dominate the peasantry?

    As I review the list of members of the RT, also posted in Blair’s article, I notice executives of companies with whom I routinely do business. Why should I shop at Foodland, when there is a Safeway not so far away? Should I continue patronizing City Mill, when I can either go to Ace or save a few bucks and go to Home Depot? I had always LIKED City Mill, but why should I give my money to businesses working to deny equal rights to my gay and lesbian friends?

    Or perhaps these companies do not need the business of gay and gay-friendly customers?

  7. jayz43 Says:


    You might want to switch banks if you use BOH, First Hawaiian, ASB, CPB, cancel Oceanic cable, turn off your electricity, cancel your medical coverage and go back to that little grass shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii.

    Boycotting to make a point is fine until you realize the umbrella of businesses is far-reaching in the Hawaii community.

  8. Ross Says:

    My question. Did all those companies sign onto the Roundtable letter? So far the coverage says the letter came from the Executive Committee of the Hawaii Business Roundtable.

  9. Kolea Says:


    Yes, a boycott strategy would be more effective if there were meaningful competition between these businesses. In many cases, there is not. Welcome to the world of non-competitive, oligopolistic capitalism.”Free market”? That would be grand!

    I expect business leaders to have an interests in the economy, even broadly speaking. For example, BR has promoted “education reform.” I get that, even I disagreed with their model. But they are over-reaching here. First, their letter is poorly reasoned. They claim the bill passed without adequate debate. Nonsense. There is NO BILL in recent years considered by the Legislature which received MORE debate and testimony. And where were these “responsible” business leaders at that time? Of course, they don’t expect to have to wait in line to speak at a public hearing when they have back door influence?

    I mentioned Mitch D’Olier and Don Horner specifically, because they are two of the prime players with BR and because they are both committed rightwing activists. In this case, they appear to be abusing their position with BR in order to use BR as a tool for their own, non-business agenda.

    The “business-related” aspects of civil unions have been discussed at a much higher level than this letter implies. The economic impact on the state and businesses is actually expected to be minimal, contrary to the nightmarish projections of rightwingers or utopian dreams of those wanting to promote gay weddings as a niche industry.

    If Don Horner wants to use FHB as an instrument for his social views, maybe it is time to start talking publicly about Mormon control of the bank? SO long as the religion of the bankers is irrelevant, I see no reason to discuss it. But once they start using that business to push their religious social agenda, then yes, I think it does become relevant and consumers might well be encouraged to start transferring their accounts. We target the most high-profile banker, in this case, FHB. It would send a message.

    Do FHB, City Mill and Foodland WANT to risk alienating gay-friendly customers? If not, they should rein in D’Olier and Horner.

  10. David Shapiro Says:

    Kolea, I’ve never seriously criticized the manner by which HB 444 was passed because I agree with you that it was fully debated and all opponents were denied was the chance to sit in the gallery and shake their fists.

    However, I think there’s a legit concern about the addition of opposite sex couples, which Senate leaders pulled out of their butts not to improve the bill, but to stall the bill. Legislators had a year between the Senate amendment and final House passage to study and explain the impact of the change, but they didn’t. They just said the bill was dead and not to worry.

    I know that quick studies have but done to argue the impact is minimal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not significant. I can understand the logic of extending the civil rights of marriage to gay couples who can’t legally get married, but for opposite-sex couples — effectively extending the rights of marriage to unmarrieds — it opens opportunities to game the system. For instance, would surviving spouses be able to enter into civil unions in Hawai’i to enjoy the benefits of marriage while continuing to enjoy the federal benefits of not remarrying?

    I’m not saying these concerns are enough to kill the bill, but they are concerns and the half-assed way the bill was amended was less than businesslike, to use the term of the day.

    And for the record, I think that’s a cheap shot at Horner and others of the Mormon faith at FHB. The Mormons stayed out of the civil unions fight and your dots don’t connect. Gratuitously attacking religion is as bad as gratuitously attacking sexual orientation.

  11. Ross Says:

    Dave: bottom line is that many jurisdictions already offer civil unions to opposite sex couples. While HB444 is the first “civil union” bill in the US to include opposite sex couples, the equivalent “domestic partnership” laws of CA, NV, WA and perhaps OR include opposite sex couples. NV has no age restriction. The others only include opposite sex senior citizen couples.

    Remember, like marriage, exiting a civil union is much harder and requires a legal divorce. HB444 is not just about benefits, but also obligations imposed on the couple. Entering a civil union should be as serious as entering a marriage. I am not too worried about “gaming”. Remember, opposite sex couples can already marry. HB444 doesn’t offer them anything can’t access via the state’s marriage laws. It changes nothing for them or the state. The # of opposite sex couples signing up for civil union can’t be expected to be high. It is an inferior less than equal status not recognized by the Feds.

  12. Ross Says:

    Ps. I personally preferred the same-sex only HD1 version of the bill. I was never a proponent of adding opposite sex couples, but not opposed either. I concur with you for the reasons it was done, but the outcome is that it did get us one more House vote (McKelvey)……but if the Senate just passed HD1 in 2009….all of this would be moot.

    That said, there were some strong advocates in the community pushing for HB444 to include opposite sex couples from the outset…..but they did not “win” that decision at the beginning (Jan 2009) but got what they wanted 4 months later.

  13. David Shapiro Says:

    Ross, I think that what ultimately makes the most sense is to get government out of marriage and put all couples in civil unions for legal purposes, with the churches free to marry who they wish. But this can’t really work until the feds take the lead.

    In the meantime, I can understand the urgency of seeking civil unions for same sex couples state by state since they don’t have the right to marry in most states. But opposite sex couples do have the right to marry and I don’t see any urgency in rushing to give them civil union rights that create an unnecessarily confusing legal hodge-podge without the feds getting in line.

    Again, I’m not arguing that this is enough reason to kill the current bill, but it if does die they should put it through clean next time or make a better case for including opposite sex couples.

  14. shaftalley Says:

    kolea writes in part:”shaftalley sometimes uses the term ‘ruling class’ pretty carelessly.” i like to think that i use the term “tirelessly.” the democratic party is very much in control politically here in hawaii.and they set the policies economically in hawaii.and ironically,the “last minute passage” of HB 444 is ,in my opinion,a positive step for hawaii and the rest of the nation towards achieving liberty and freedom and another small step to becoming a free society.most CEO’S and business people in hawaii are hard working,productive and greatly concerned about the profitability of their companies.there is a lot at stake for them and all workers private and public.some companies and industries in hawaii are definately “rent seekers.” those are companies that trade favors with local politicians with political contributions,side payments and votes in the hopes of receiving generous subsidies,tax breaks,exclusive contract awards,licenses,etc.these are lackies to the ruling class.HOWEVER: to their credit, it looks like the ruling class did the courageous thing to pass HB444.even though i consider HB 444 as gov’t. interference in private business activities,the power of our free market system will allow for business to adjust,in spite of interference by the state in the matter of civil unions.

  15. shaftalley Says:

    by the way, citizens should never seek out the “aid” of a state to solve our problems.including civil unions!the gov’t. will use it to trap and capture the people that it wants to regulate.that’s what the governments exist for these days.regulatory capture!but what else can decent people do?who can they turn to?

  16. Ross Says:

    Actually there are more states with marriage for same sex couples than civil unions or domestic partnerships.

    Marriage: CT, MA, VT, NH, IA, DC plus NY recognizes same sex marriages from other jurisdictions and CA still recognizes same-sex marriages conducted prior to Prop 8.

    Civil Union or Domestic Partnership: CA, OR, WA, NV, and NJ

  17. Kolea Says:

    Hey Dave,

    I agree with you (and Ross) that adding opposite sex couples to the bill was a dumb idea and have said so repeatedly. But we are discussing the objections of the Business Roundtable. Can you point out where in their letter they allude to this? Cause i don’t see it. In fact, they have been AWOL through the entire debate and now want to use their prestige as business leaders to help provide Lingle a cover for vetoing the bill.

    Sorry, Dave. I don’t see Don Horner and Mitch D’Olier fighting against this bill as “business leaders,” but as religious conservatives leveraging their economic positions to advance their socially conservative agenda. They do not make a convincing case that HB444 would be “bad for business>” How is it not obvious to you they are abusing their position with the BR to advance their non-business social agenda?

    If the other members of the Business Roundtable are willing to allow their “business” organization to be hijacked for these purposes, then they bear some of the responsibility. And some of the shame.

    When the US Chamber of Commerce lobbied strongly against environmental policies of the Obama administration, member companies were asked to state whether they agreed or not. As a result of public scrutiny, a lot of businesses feared alienating public sympathy and left the Chamber. Maybe the time has come for more broadminded companies to leave the Business Roundtable instead of lending their names to perpetuating discrimination against the gay and lesbian members of our community. The gay and lesbian, and gay-friendly members of their client base.

    And there is nothing “gratuitous” about pointing out the role of the Mormon Church at FHB. Noet if they allow that influence to be used through “business” organizations to oppose equality. Horner is allowing his Mormonism to prevail over his responsibilities as the president of a major bank. It is heavyhanded and inappropriate. And maybe the bank should lose some customers over it. Not because they are Mormons per se, but because they are combining their religious agenda and corporate activities to promote inequality. I can do business with people of whatever religious backround. But if i contribute to their profits and they use those profits to finacne political movements i oppose, I damn well have a right to shift my business elsewhere.

    Respecting people’s freedom of religion does not mean we should deny the role religion plays in politics and accuse those who point out those connections of being bigots. You say “the Mormons” have stayed out of the fight over HB444. That is not an accurate statement. The Church had remained officially neutral, but many of its top political operatives have been active in opposing the bill. Are we permitted to even discuss the matter? Or is any discussion, and criticism, of Mormon, of Catholic, of Protestant fundamentalist, of Down to Earth “Hare Krishna” involvement to be stricken from the public discourse?

    Th Hawaii Family Forum is currently in legal trouble because they appear to have violated the laws governing lobbying by non-profits. Are we allowed to mention that HFF is funded mostly by the Catholic diocese? Or is that also gratuitous anti-religious bigotry in your book?

  18. Kolea Says:


    I said you use the term “ruling class” carelessly. Let me explain why. And forgive me if I attribute to you the ideas I have heard from talking with, and reading, other Libertarians over the years.

    The “ruling class” is a tough term to throw into a conversation. It sounds harsh and jargony. But I think it can have some merit IF we define our terms. You seem to use it to refer to the Democratic politicl networks who exercise a great deal of politicl influence over state policies.

    Sorry. I thin that is one-dimensional and facile. As a free market advocate, I am sure you have an interest in history, particularly the development of capitalism. Capitalism, an economic system, developed alongside a form of liberalism in reaction to feudalism. Liberalism was the philosophical and intellectual ideology to explain, and justify, the opposition of the emerging merchant class from the control, the domination of the feudal aristocracy, the landed gentry and the absolute monarchs. As well as against the “cronyism” of “mercantilism” which favored those well-connected with powerful membvers of the aristocracy.

    Libertarianism strips capitalism from its historical circumstances and idealizes it as apart from time. Small-scale, competitive capitalism is indeed a source of a great deal of innovation and creativity. But the captialist system has moved far beyond the “free market” you idealize and is dominated by mega-corporations, whose owners and managers are working to re-establish a hereditary aristocracy of wealth to parallel that of the worst European aristocracies. And todays “Libertarians” are foot soldiers in the ideological battle against efforts by society to restrict the power of these corporations.

    The “ruling class” in Hawaii is not located in the Legislature, nor is it headquartered in the office of the Democratic party. During the 40s and 50s, it was pretty accurate to paint the Big Five, with their interlocking directorates, interlocking families, exclusive clubs and elite private schools (well, “school”– only Punahou qualified in those days), the Big Five WAS Hawaii’s ruling class. It was easy to identify and the names of its leaders were pretty well knbown.

    But Hawaii has been integrated into the world system. Decisions determining Hawaii’s future are as likely to be made in boardrooms in New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong or Tokyo. Even London. Merchant Street is mostly composed of compromised lackies of powerful outside interests. But to the extent there is a semi-autonomous, decisionmaking gathering of the local corporate elite, the Business Roundtable can stand in as a representative assembly of our local ruling class.

    Their “rule” is no longer unchallenged. The politicians, particularly the Democrats, emerged to challenge the unilateral rule of the business elite. The economic elite view the politicians as usurpers of their prerogatives. Why should the owners of society have to cut deals with the elected representatives of the people? Libertarians jump in to lament the loss of freedom the wealthy have suffered through regulation, taxation and accountability.

    The real ruling class, in Hawaii, in the US and around the world, are the corporate owners and mangers. Their power is only slightly diminished by politicians. And most of those politicians are so eager to please their corporate masters in exchange for campaign contributions and favorable coverage in the corporate media, that they will allow the corporations to steal the people blind, without accountability, in exchange for a small piece of the action.

  19. shaftalley Says:

    interesting lecture,professor kolea.and high school and college students struggling in our public school system by really studying history.i am also interested in recent history.this is the period in which our country and the rest of the world has seen the damage to society that a gov’t. can do.the multi-national global corporaton kabal did not create the economic mess in hawaii or the rest of the world.or the human sufferings around this planet.central gov’t.s’ have done and continue to do so.politicians in power create the laws that affect all of us.in hawaii,we are gluttons for punishment by electing the same characters over and over again.certain industries are benefiting by the abuses of local politicians,for sure.i hope high school and college kids really study the role that politicians have played to be where we are today.look to the LEFT or to the RIGHT,but look to where elected and unelected politicians in hawaii and the rest of the nation come from.and where they go after their terms in office.who lines their pockets,and what are their goals?

  20. zzzzzz Says:

    I like that HB444 included same-sex couples. This makes it part of the groundwork for an eventual elimination of marriage as a legal status, replaced by civil unions.

  21. Kolea Says:


    In my judgment, the argument the state should “get out of the marriage business” relies upon a misunderstanding. “Marriage” is not a religious sacrament. Both the churches and the state recognize, and differentiate between ,civil marriage and religious solemnization of marriage. In the Catholic Church, for example, the sacrament is “holy matrimony,” not “marriage.”

    My parents were married in the Catholic Church in order to accommodate the sensibilities of my grandmother. Some religious conservatives go so far as to think a marriage outside of the church is not “married in the eyes of God.”

    To agree that “marriage” properly belongs to the control of religious institutions and that we need to create a secular, civil union as an alternative is to give away too much and embrace that claim of my grandmother that all REAL marriages must be done in a church.

    Nonsense. A judge or Justice of the Peace can perform a wedding and it is just as valid as a religious marriage AND it is as secular as any new-fangled “civil union.” And if the legal rights and responsibilities are identical to those now covered by the marriage law, exactly what will have been accomplished in terms of changing the state’s role? Nothing. Except you will have told the churches they can have ownership of the “word” marriage.” Which might make my Catholic grandma happy, but not changed the content of the law one iota.

  22. zzzzzz Says:


    I think there are a significant number of people who have difficulty with the duality of marriage as a legal concept vs a religious concept.

    I’ve come to realize that the number of folk with such a difficulty is much lower than I thought. Many opponents of same-sex marriage made arguments that suggested such difficulty. However, when HB444 changed the argument to civil unions, many opponents showed their true colors, and logic had nothing to do with their opposition.

    However, I still believe some people honestly have that difficulty.

    I tend toward favoring the elimination of both marriage and civil unions as legal constructs, and treating everyone as an individual. However, I don’t see that happening, and civil unions (or marriage) open to same sex and well as mixed sex couples seems preferable to what exists today.

  23. Ross Says:

    I agree with Kolea. Marriage is not a uniquely religious institution, though it can be for some. But legally, what makes a person married is the secular gov’t issued marriage license. The problem is that we allow clergy to act as agents of the state and sign these licenses, instead of strictly separating the civil and religious components of marriage. In some countries, all couples must have a civil marriage ceremony and a separatel religious ceremony or blessing is optional.

    In Hawaii, as in all states, there are no religious requirements for legal marriage. One can be a “professed” athiest and still marry in Hawaii simply by going to a Judge or ex-Judge. To get the state out of the marriage business for good and to require “civil unions” for all allows religion to monopolize marriage and then denies marriage to the non-religious.

    Marriage is far more then a package of rights. It is a social instituion with deep cultural and communal understanding. Even couples who marry via a civil marriage ceremony still benefit from these non-tangible social benefits of marriage, benefits that civil unions don’t provide since “civil union” is a new concept, the term was created in Vermont in 2000, and the term does not convey the social meaning of marriage. People do not grow up dreaming of becoming “civil unionized.”

  24. Michael Says:

    It should be the decision of the governor only. she wants the glory let her make the decision of her lifetime. She said her job is to make decisions no one else makes. Asking 2 Rabbis has made this religious when it just a Civil Union issue only.
    lingle was born a Jew but little of her private life do I know that she pratices her life and beliefs as a Jew.

  25. Michael Says:

    Shaking fist. Why not get in a boxing ring and winner gets their way?

  26. Ross Says:

    Point if clarification. Both the advocates of HB444 as well as the opponents sought meetings with Lingle, not the other way around. This applies to everyone, not just two rabbis. Lingle met with clergy from all traditions, however, her meetings with the rabbis are getting more publicity since she is Jewish. Also, Lingle also met with non-clergy advocates of HB444 including labor, legal experts, members of the LGBT community, educators, advocates for the elderly, and youth representatives. I know because I was in the meeting. Having clergy on out side was very helpful SO we can frame this as a civil rights issue. Bear with me here. If all the opponents of the bill are “religious” and all the advocate strictly secular, then this actually reinforces the religious opposition. But by having religious advocates of HB444, we show that there is a variety of religious opinion on this issue……refutes our opponents…….AND….enables us to then focus on the truly relevant issues…..namely legal and constitutional.

    As long as our opponents try to turn this into a religious issue, we have to fight “fire with fire”. Like it or not, religion is a powerful force in our society and some of the most effective advocates for HB444 have been religious voices such as Rabbi Peter Schaktman.

  27. zzzzzz Says:

    Having religious folks strongly on both sides, based on their religious beliefs, turns this into a “my religion is better than your religion” contest.

  28. Michael Says:

    I fight fire with water. Why make a bigger fire than already is? Some people add oil.

    No wonder lingle could not balance the budget, she couldn’t do the math. Instead of subtracting she multiplied.

  29. Michael Says:

    Round table where there are no “sides”.

    Ainoa should veto, Aiona won’t. Not for him to decide. Will this be another HMS TITANIC? lingle decided more important things than what is Civil is dim sum.

    Civil Marriage? I thought this was about Civil Rights and Union? I guess not. Someone like a pop up brings it up and up. I had my pop up control off.

    3rd world thinking, Money is Power, the ruling class has money.

    No religion is better or worst. Religion like government is The People.

    I wish I could attend next meeting, I would love to Shake Dance after. I believe it is a Religion that many people believe in. My belief in such a religion as not to offend the believers. Shakers.

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