His record compares favorably to that of his predecessor, Gov. Linda Lingle, in her first session in the 2003 Legislature.
Of the 164 bills she introduced, 62 became law — or 38 percent.
Of course, Abercrombie is a member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii that dominates the Legislature, so that gives him an edge over a Republican in the same office.
Mind you, some of the governor’s major ideas for generating revenue — eliminating Medicare Part B reimbursements, taxing pensions and sodas and increasing the liquor tax, for example — were shot down by lawmakers.
On balance, though, when it came to bills, the governor got more than half of his priorities approved.
(Read a related article about how he did enacting the vision he laid out in his State of the State speech.)
Emergency Funding Approved
Seventeen of Abercrombie’s bills had been signed into law as of May 9, including emergency funding for the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s offices, for brownfield cleanup, for Department of Human Services health care payments and for the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.
Another bill institutes a moratorium on the enhancement of Employees’ Retirement System benefits until the system’s funded ratio is 100 percent.
Some bills are housekeeping measures, like a bill that deletes the Hawaii Criminal Justice Association from the panel that nominates members of the Paroling Authority since the association no longer exists.
Some are narrowly targeted, such as a bill that amends the requirements of licensure for dental hygienists.
Some concern matters that the public at large has little interest in, such as requiring the Committee on Weights to meet “not less than once every odd-numbered year, rather than annually.”
And, some bills that were introduced by the administration were dramatically altered by the Legislature. Case in point: House Bill 200, the state budget.
ERS, ATDC and CIO
But, the state budget aside, other administration measures that passed will impact many. They include these bills that do the following:
• Revise the Employees’ Retirement System.
• Increase the motor vehicle registration fee and vehicle weight tax.
• Make exemptions from state fair housing laws consistent with the federal Fair Housing Act.
• Authorize the Department of Transportation to collect increases in passenger facility charges.
• Update the Enhanced 911 Services Law.
• Amend laws to protect victims of domestic violence.
• Revises the boundaries of the Aloha Tower complex, reduce the Aloha Tower Development Corporation board of directors and place the ATDC under the Department of Transportation.
• Permit the Department of Education to determine alternative routes to certification for principals and vice-principals.
• Repeal the conveyance tax exemption for low-income housing projects certified by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation.
• Allow the Department of Land and Natural Resources to collect fees and costs to cover habitat conservation plans.
• Change requirements concerning defendants that are unfit for court proceedings.
• Move the Chief Information Officer from the governor’s office to the Department of Accounting and General Services, and pay for the CIO’s operations and staff to revamp the state’s antiquated IT systems.
Full disclosure on that last item: The administration’s newly formed Office of Information Management and Technology is funded in part through a $3 million grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation.
The foundation is using money donated by the Omidyar Ohana Fund, which was established through the support of Pierre and Pam Omidyar. Pierre Omidyar is publisher of Civil Beat.
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