Posted tagged ‘civil unions’

The veto list lands

June 21, 2010

There was an interesting mixed reaction among leading supporters of HB 444 to news that Gov. Linda Lingle has placed the civil unions bill on her list of possible vetoes.

PFLAG-Oahu obviously didn’t believe the governor that she’s still making up her mind and issued a statement bashing Lingle as though the bill is already dead.

“Hawaii’s Governor has killed the spirit of Aloha and the reputation of Hawaii as a land of  freedom and justice in one death blow to this bill that has passed the 2010 Legislature,” PFLAG said.

“Lingle has said in no uncertain terms that an individual’s right to love and care for another person is of no interest to her or the Republican Party.  She has bowed to Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona and the International Transformation Network that calls for Hawaii to be the first Christian State in the nation.”

Citizens for Equal Rights took a more measured approach, noting with regret that HB 444 is among 39 bills Lingle listed for possible veto. But the group acknowledged that she’s still deliberating and urged her “to consider the significant positive economic impact HB444 could have on the economy at this critical juncture as the state and businesses struggle to rebuild revenue and create new jobs.”

The group then went on to articulate the economic benefits it sees from letting HB 444 become law based on a study by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA.

I certainly don’t know if Lingle’s mind is still open, but having come this far, it would seem to make the most sense for both sides to play it as though it is. There will be plenty of time for bashing later.

Roundtable unbusinesslike on HB 444

June 17, 2010

We’re always hearing that government should be run more like a business.

Well, if the Hawai’i Business Roundtable’s bungled lobbying on civil unions is an example of the ideal, spare us from that.

The Rountable, a normally respected group representing Hawai’i’s biggest companies, came late to the game in urging Gov. Linda Lingle to veto HB 444 based on an array of technical concerns that seemed less than compelling.

Worse, the recommendation was made by the group’s 10-member executive committee with questions raised about whether all members of the committee were on board and the extent to which the Roundtable’s 44 members were polled.

You’d think experienced business executives would know better than to play fast and loose on so emotional an issue.

Gay rights groups that support HB 444 struck back by threatening a consumer boycott of Roundtable members, and not surprisingly, individual companies started backtracking from the Roundtable’s position.

Today, the Human Rights Campaign announced that Roundtable members Time Warner Cable Inc., Aon Corp., Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., and Marriott International Inc. were backing HB 444.

We’re left to scratch our heads about what the Roundtable leadership was thinking by so haphazardly injecting the organization into the controversy. These are heavy hitters who don’t exactly need to issue a press release to get the governor’s ear.

All in all, not very businesslike.

Will Aiona veto HB 444 (II)?

June 11, 2010

Would somebody kindly look at this press release from Rep. Tom Brower and decipher for me exactly what he wants Aiona to do and what his logic is — if there is any.

Isn’t this the legislator who put out a press release calling the House passage of HB 444 a perversion of the Democratic process after he voted for the bill himself?

CIVIL UNIONS: How is Acting Governor Acting?

I wonder, on some political or personal level, might Lt. Governor Duke Aiona be open to allowing the civil union bill to become law?

During Governor Linda Lingle’s two- week absence, House Bill 444 is in the hands of our state’s leading opponent.

Despite public rhetoric against the bill, Aiona has yet to take the ultimate step to stop it: Veto power.

Article 5, section 04 of the Hawaii State Constitution states that “in the event of the absence of the governor from the State… such powers and duties shall devolve upon the lieutenant governor during such absence or disability.”

Aiona has exercised his veto power on one measure during Lingle’s absence (Senate Bill 2401).

If he does not take advantage of this power and (hypothetically-speaking) the bill becomes law, he cannot say he did “everything” he could to kill the bill. Whether he makes a choice or not, he still has made a decision. He would be just as responsible as the Governor and the other legislators for the bill’s passage.

Making the tough decisions and accepting the consequences of his actions—this is his chance to show he is more than a seat warmer.

As one of the 31 House members who supported civil unions, I encourage Aiona’s support. It would send the message to Hawaii that its top government officials understand the difference between civil unions and traditional marriage, and that we have enough safeguards in our State Constitution to protect the sanctity of marriage.


Tom Brower
State Representative
Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako

Will Aiona veto HB 444?

June 9, 2010

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.

HB 444 takes a side trip to China

June 3, 2010

Gov. Linda Lingle is taking all the time available to her to decide on the civil unions bill, HB 444, but the big question is this: Is she really undecided on whether to veto or is she only deciding how to present her veto?

A veto seemed a foregone conclusion as soon as Lingle publicly expressed the opinion that civil unions are just same-sex marriage by another name, which has become standard GOP code in opposing any kind of gay unions.

She’s always said she opposes same-sex marriage and to allow HB 444 to become law with or without her signature would be seen as a slap at her Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, who has made opposition to civil unions a key issue in his campaign to succeed her, and the Republican Party in which she hopes to find a future after she leaves office.

Before leaving on a trip to China that will take her close to the June 21 deadline to signal her intention to the Legislature, Lingle indicated it has become more a matter of how to present her decision.

“This is something that people feel very strongly about on both sides,” she said.  “I’ve had a chance to meet and get to know people on both sides of this, and I don’t want whatever decision I make to in any way diminish one side or the other or make one side or the other feel I’m being judgmental in any way.

“As you know, words are important, they are important to me, and I want to get it right, whatever my decision is.”

At least she’s elevating the dialogue by showing sensitivity to all sides and avoiding the inflammatory political rhetoric that usually surrounds the issue.

If she delivers the expected veto with an uncombative message, it’ll be interesting to see if it emboldens Democratic legislators to try an override.

The conventional wisdom is they won’t after the House came up short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto when it passed HB 444 by a vote of 31-20.

But you never know what can happen if lawmakers call an override session on other bills. After all, House leaders said they weren’t going to take up civil unions at all in 2010 — until they did in a surprise vote at the end of the session.

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